Page 23 - Print 21 Magazine Nov-Dec 2018
P. 23

calendar, there are 35,000 out there on the walls; it’s marketing for them 365 days a year. There are certain things that are better online and certain things better in print.”
Acquisition is a way
One thing Wanless has always known is that progress has avenues other than investing in technology. He
has a good history of buying other companies to advance an agenda.
It’s still very much an option.
“The question is, do you spend four
million dollars buying a new press with no new customers or do you
buy a business that has four million dollars in customers? We’ve bought
a few businesses over the years, three since 2012, two before that.”
He began by buying prepress companies. The first one was Steve Haas’ Atrium Studios, followed by Eclipse Graphics. This was before CtP was widespread, when prepress was
a more complicated business. It was mostly for the business, the customer lists, rarely for the equipment.
Then came PrintWize, again basically for the customer list. Wanless still retains many of the customers from the deal and he notches it up as a good buy. Next up was Allardice Prepress. “We acquired the customer base along with eight staff and a specialised market segment. Again it was a good buy.”
John Wanless is a fan of the power and flexibility from his Heidelberg Speedmaster 12-colour
Perhaps the most significant, certainly the largest acquisition came in 2015 with McKellar Renown. The well-known Melbourne-based family printer came onto the market with enough information to make it seem like a good buy on paper.
“We were still settling in the Allardice business when it came
up. We took on twenty staff, which was perhaps a bit too much of a mouthful. This was also the first
one where we were taking on any owners. Previously when we bought
a business the owner was stepping away from it. Steve and John Norgate were retiring, but we still had their kids, Kerry, Chris and Adam.
“Looking back, I don’t think we handled the transition very well. Fitting twenty people into this shed was challenging. We got up to eighty- five staff at one stage. It was a bit of a Japanese fit getting everyone in.”
At first it all went very well, the revenue grew nicely. McKellar had a contract to print stamps for Australia Post. The 400 line hybrid screening and stochastic printing was another quality benchmark and leap forward for Bambra. Then 18 months later the stamp contract went up for tender. The motive was to reduce the number of suppliers from three to two and Bambra lost out.
“Overnight we dropped a million and a bit in sales. And we had all these people. We also had some
equipment that was specific for stamps. Had the stamps continued I’d have said the McKellar acquisition was a good one as well.”
Wanless is candid about the results. “We lost our way a little, it proved too big. They had good people and a good culture, just very different to our way. In the 18 months we were printing here our quality was good, our service was good and our pricing was good. It was just one of those thing. Nothing to do except get up off the ground, brush the dust off and move on.”
A printer’s progress
“One thing we’ve done just over 12 months ago was put on a CEO in the business. Steve Haas. We’ve known Steve for a long time and the first business we bought, Atrium Studios, was his prepress business. He’s had a love affair with the industry, in and out, different places, different times. We stayed in contact.
“He was managing Bannershop Australia, which was part of a $100 million business. He happened to be across the road from us here so we still saw him on an ad hoc basis. He was looking for a different challenge. We had lunch with him one day and said, ‘we’ve got a bit of a challenge too.’
“People were moved around into different roles within the business to fill gaps. They probably weren’t well trained. Steve’s got better skills
plus coater.

   21   22   23   24   25