Page 19 - Print 21 Magazine May-June 2019
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much of it was about getting away from “the overalls and having grease under my nails”.
It turned out to be much more than that and over the next 50 years, David Currie transformed his father’s humble printing engineering business into the current powerhouse of Currie Group, a private enterprise of more than $100 million turnover, employing over 100 staff across Australia and New Zealand, the largest single equipment supplier to the printing industry.
A born salesman
David Currie has sold printing presses and finishing equipment for most of his life. Now it’s mostly with HP Indigo, the default digital colour printing press, a brand
and technology that has not only changed the printing industry, but also transformed Currie Group. But it wasn’t always so.
“I first went to Japan in 1976, as part of a company we called IPES with a bloke called Gerard Brandjes. We already had the KBA agency but Gerard was only interested in doing big deals. I wanted to do Shinohara, Shoei, Itoh and stuff like that. We soon split the business and went our own ways.
“I still remember the first Fuji
58 I brought back. We sold it to the Finkelstein family for their Patterson Press here in Melbourne. There was great fanfare. We all believed it could take a sheet size of 600mm for A2 sheets. But it couldn’t. It could only do 580. They sent a team out from Shinohara and we rebuilt the thing in the premises across the road here. We made it into a Fuji 60.
“Afterwards, over the years, we sold 507 Shinohara presses into Australia and New Zealand. When you think that near the end a lot of them were multicolour presses with six colours and so on, it was very impressive.”
Boom years
Memories are short. When looking back over a career of half a century it’s tempting to give it a gloss, to focus only on the good times and the right decisions. But no one’s life is like that and David Currie is first to admit it.
“The 1980s were just boom times for our sort of business. The government supported free enterprise; you ran all your cars, beach houses and boats on before
tax dollars. It was a free for all. We were running all over the world taking customers to trade shows. We couldn’t keep up with the orders for machines. It was an incredible time. Fabulous.
“But by the end of the ’80s, I knew the business was not sustainable. My feeling was that I was never going
to survive unless I had a certain amount of recurring revenue. Selling machinery is not really a risky
game but it’s got its ups and downs. Service, yes, you can sell service, but more and more the manufacturers had good service and we couldn’t get access to service their presses.
“I looked around and thought, I’ve got to have consumables. Bernie [Robinson, now managing director at Currie Group] was a shareholder
David Currie (above) is celebrating the Group’s 70th year milestone with the same strength of character that has sustained and defined
its years of progress.
and sales director of AM International. They’d had Chapter 11 and management bought out the local company. After they lost the AM machines they needed product to sell. They approached me about selling Hamada, which we still
had. Horizon too had a very good range of upmarket office products. For me, they’d a good consumable business with Agfa, DPX, TMK and T&K Toka ink.”
The likeminded pair, Currie and Robinson, saw the obvious benefits of joining together. Before long Currie became the major shareholder and Robinson joined his company. Adding the range of consumables proved to be another transformational decision for Currie Group. But the largest was still to come.
Opposite page:
Where it all began seven decades ago.
Print21 MAY/JUNE 2019 19

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