Wed, Jul

Making Ideas Happen

This month we kick off a series of ‘Innovators’ features with a look at how Mal McGowan is putting his company’s motto into practice.

Dublin-based McGowans has its motto plastered across the building’s façade: ‘making ideas happen’. And for owner/MD Mal McGowan the big idea for 2016 is to extend the company’s presence in mainland UK and into Europe as quickly as possible. The search is on for “sales reps with a difference - ones that can properly promote the company to the end user as well as the print management community” to help it fill capacity that has been brought on-line via a £3m investment programme over the last 18 months or so.

McGowan is using all means at his disposal to recruit the right people to help him take the business forward, but it’s not just the actual recruitment drive that will likely do that, it’s also the way the company presents itself. Go to its website for instance and yes, you’ll find all the usual information you expect of a print company - and put together in a very attractive manner - but moreover, you’ll also find a section dedicated to ‘ideas management’. Not a lot of PSPs do that kind of thing, but it’s becoming increasingly important for a sector trying to reformat its image and attract bright young things from beyond print’s usual bounds. What this section does is say “hey, talk to us - we’ll listen. We’re about people and views, not just kit and production.”

Over 25 years McGowans has grown from being a small shop with a rare colour copier on City Quay in Dublin to a point where it’s one of the go-to digital printing companies in Ireland, with its base in Dublin home to 85 staff, and a predominantly direct mail focused operation home to another 25 in Belfast. Its chief, always eager to be ahead of the rest, pretty much started the digital print revolution in Ireland, and the concept of ‘ideas management’ is one he embraces and extols. Hopefully, it will help the company attract the new blood it seeks.

Strategos chairman Gary Hamel once said: “There is no way to create wealth without ideas. Most new ideas are created by newcomers.” It’s a comment that has been picked up by McGowans, and taken to heart. “Many companies are really bad at idea generation and management. But there should be no excuses for companies to mangle the process any longer,” according to the company, which is happy to explain the why’s and how’s on its website.

McGowans itself has it seems heeded its own teachings, particularly when it comes to extending its credentials and philosophy to those that will help grow the company - to potential new clients and employees both. Ideas management is not the only thought provoking issue to be covered on its website, now a company’s face to the world. Other commentary includes things like ‘How to create a great retail experience’, ‘Benefits and challenges of using fabric in print’ and ‘Benefits of outdoor advertising’. All present McGowans as a company with a much wider focus than just print production.

“We have developed into an operation that handles everything from idea generation through to installation, and we have a structure that enables us to constantly evolve as new ideas are taken on board. It’s important that we get that message across to customers, and also to those we want to attract into the business,” says McGowan, who now has export markets on his mind.

“We do a lot of work with big brands, many just for their work in Ireland. And they’re starting to ask us why we don’t get involved in their work in the UK, so we see scope there. But also, we want to reach out to brands not yet using us and promote our services to them, and that means finding people who can speak to them in the right place and in the right way,” stresses McGowan. “That means presenting ourselves as more than the run-of-the-mill print company.”

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