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Growth sparks printer’s UK move

IN 10 years, CJ King and Co Pty Ltd has grown from a small annex behind a North Beach home to what it claims is the biggest full colour printer in the Southern Hemisphere – a $1,500 investment that is now turning over $10 million a year.With the assistance of Austrade and the WA Department of Industry and Resources (DoIR), the company is taking on the UK market, already with some success.One of the remarkable things about this success story is that it has been achieved through a consummate belief in a philosophy to use standardised, leading-edge technology and to supply just the print trade and other on-sellers. The company employs 64 full timers and casuals, runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is the only ‘trade-only’ printer in WA.Founder Chris King concedes his company’s success has had little to do with business plans.“Since the day we [with wife Urszula] started, turnover has exceeded our expectations every year. It’s really been a matter of trying to keep up. I never thought we would grow to the size we are today,” he told WA Business News.The most recent innovation has been the $250,000 adaptation of software, originally developed for Toyota, to allow clients anywhere in the world to get quotes, supply artwork, have that artwork checked and for the job to be printed and dispatched. The system also allows the job to be tracked from acceptance, through production and delivery.CJ King is currently providing door-to-door UK turnaround in four working days on jobs that would normally take two to three weeks in the UK.By implementing a high level of integration and standardisation over the whole prepress, print and finishing process, the company is able to run large jobs over multiple presses achieving identical results, as well as short runs without delays in changeover and make readies. “It’s all about streamlined efficiency, while maintaining exemplary quality. We are a volume printer – large volume, low cost,” Mr King said. “But you need about $9 million worth of print, finishing and front-end equipment to do that.”CJ King has 3,800 clients throughout Australia, New Zealand, UK and a small number in the US, another new market. Seventy per cent of its business comes from the eastern states, 20 per cent from WA and the rest from overseas.It is a proud boast that a product CJ King sold eight years ago – 500 full-colour business cards for $149, the company is now selling for $15. The company prints about a million business cards a day.It is a similar story throughout the broad range of others products, including brochures, catalogues and corporate reports.Such growth has not been without its problems.Expansion has meant six complete moves in 10 years and after being at Balcatta just a year, there is a need to move again – to more than double the size of just the print operations to more than 2,000 square metres. The last move from Leederville cost more than $250,000.“I swear, I will never move again. But I’ve said that before,” Mr King said.He wants to keep the print operation in Balcatta and is negotiating new premises. “I’ve tried brokers and real estate agents, but the area in which we operate is pretty small so we have just shopped around ourselves.”Bad debts were a problem until a few years ago, when the client base had grown to the extent that the company could afford to pick and chose. Newer clients without a trading history now operate on a pre-pay system, with the remainder on account, roughly a 50-50 split. Bad debts fell from about $150,000 a year to about $3,000 a year.“We were a bit late recognising that one, but it’s done wonders for our cash flow,” Mr King said.The company recently appointed business development manager Chris Temov, who has been working closely with Austrade and the WA government, which are currently providing free market research, with an emphasis on comparative pricing and delivery in the UK.The research is provided under the company’s status as a new exporter. Austrade is providing funding on a dollar-for-dollar basis after initial expenditure of $15,000. There were additional charges for future in depth research.New CJ King products on the way include 3D printing onto plastics for a whole range of applications.

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