The UK large-format digital print industry has now hit 20 years of existence, during which time I have personally witnessed enough skullduggery to last a lifetime. It still goes on now, with salesmen overpromising on a daily basis and business owners too concerned about earning money today to worry about the longer-term impact of the quality of product and service that they are providing.
However, there is also a much greater maturity developing and those that have worked within this industry for a long period of time are now starting to reap the benefits of all the experience and knowledge that they have gradually accrued.
The recession of that past few years, which is now behind us, really did weed out the weak amongst us but at the same time allowed the more committed business owners to streamline their companies, focus on their strengths and to really establish themselves as credible companies with good turnover, healthy profits and in most cases an enviable collection of clients to match.
For the first time, a lot of companies operating within the large-format print market are looking not a month ahead but one, two or even five years ahead. Some have ‘exit plans’, others have acquisitions in mind. But most have plans laid down and are working hard to achieve them.
The same can also be said for suppliers. Manufacturers of print equipment have definitely ‘upped’ their game over the past few years and are fully focused on providing great kit with support to match. The ones that couldn’t deliver on promises seem to be in the background now and most people I know are definitely focused on purchasing reliable machines from proven suppliers. I think we’ve all found out the cost of purchase goes way beyond the initial price of a printer but incorporates speed, efficiency, reliability - and support too.
The next few years will provide a sea of opportunities within our trade and are definitely exciting times for everyone. Make hay and enjoy the days in the sun!