Page 24 - Print 21 Magazine Nov-Dec 2018
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People in Print
at running businesses than I have. My skills can be better used meeting customers and trying to win work. As for titles, I’m MD and he’s CEO, big titles for a small business.”
In the process of refining the business operation it became obvious that Bambra lacked that essential mantra of modern business – a
mission statement. While there was
an emphasis on growth as well as maintaining quality, planning was short term. Wanless and Haas set about gathering input from all management levels within the company.
“We’ve worked on strategy. All the managers worked on strategy. We realised we didn’t have a purpose statement or a mission statement. You can say that’s a crock but at the end of the day all the managers put in their submissions saying what they think we offer the printing market. At the end of it our mission statement came out ... Do it now, do it fast and do it better than anybody else.”
Growth is an
As far as the investment cycle goes the next technology for Bambra is in software. The 12-colour Heidelberg XL 75 as well as the HP Indigo 1200 are both running in good order, bedded in and productive.
“We need to grow. Businesses that don’t grow go backwards. We know we can do more than we’re doing at the moment. Our sales have declined
over the last couple of years due
to one reason or another. Part of Steve’s role is to work on building sales. He’s going to be rewarded on performance of the business. He feels we can grow organically.
“We don’t have any online ordering system. There’s an element of our work that can go online but not much. Part of the plan is to give our customers the option to buy online and make it easier to transact with the business. There might be work we’re missing out on, but we don’t know if we don’t have it.”
by relationship and reputation, Wanless is clear-eyed about the need to be price competitive. He believes automation is the future.
“We have the ability to produce work that other printers can’t. Just the ability to finish a lot of jobs internally that other printers would have to outsource. We’re a B2 format printer. We can still perfect at a pretty good speed doing CMYK and a special. We can do twelve colours in a row, if you want. We once did print a series of business cards that were ten PMS colours.”
Towards the future
No profile of John Wanless would
be complete without mentioning
his engagement with the industry, specifically the National Print Awards. As a paper rep he was on the committee even before Bambra. In 2009 he was appointed chairman, the same year Bambra won three golds. He stepped down five years later. More significantly he was one of the founding members
of the Melbourne Print Club, the informal, invitation only grouping that is such an important and influential feature of the southern capital. There are now 13 members still meeting on a regular basis.
There’s no doubt that John Wanless is proud of his company, proud of the work it produces, proud of its ethos. The genial printer is emblematic of contemporary printing, its strengths and its challenges.
“We’re pretty honest and easy to deal with. We try to make it easy
for our customers. Deadlines are challenging, its difficult to do good work in short deadlines, but the only option we’ve got is work out how to do it, because that’s the way it is, no point fighting it. We still get a buzz out of printing a nice job.
“The commercial printing market is declining. And it’s competitive. We used to joke there were three things and you could have two of them; service, quality or price. Now you have to have all three. You don’t get a better margin if you do a job quickly, you don’t get less quality if it’s done quickly, and if you do it cheap it still has to be good quality and on time. “We’re dealing with print buyers who are largely uneducated. We’ve got to interpret what they want. They don’t know the terminology. It’s up to us to educate them and work with them to get it right. The print business owner has a lot of skin in that game. He’s the one who has to make sure it all happens.” 21
Wanless approached the need for a software refresh with caution.
It followed a fairly disastrous experience in 2011 with German software, Hi Flex. Bambra bought it from the USA, spent 18 months and $600K on hardware and software, travel and training.
“You don’t get a better margin if you do a job quickly, you don’t get less quality if it’s done quickly, and if you do it cheap it still has to be good quality and on time.”
“Then we got a letter in the
mail, after we had it for a couple of months, that HP had bought the product. A few months after that HP decided to close it down. End of life was a few years later but it was an experience.
There is more to Bambra’s engagement with printIQ than web-to-print. Automating and streamlining production workflows comes first as part of a strategy to drive costs from the business. While much of the company’s work is driven
Bambra was an early adopter of HP Indigo 12000 B2 technology.

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