Civic Media sees the writing on the (construction) wall
Sometimes adversity can lead to better things. It often takes just a push in the right direction and a dose of confidence.
In 2009, at the height of the GFC, Adam Middleton lost his job, but shone a positive light on his predicament and decided to set up his own business. In just three short years the company, Civic Media, has become an industry leader in construction site branding and signage, with a reach that extends across the country.
|(From the left) Lawrence Yeomans, Digital Print Operator, Civic Media Adam Middleton, Director, Civic Media Steven Howland, Digital Business Development Manager, Fujifilm Australia Toby Brown, Production Manager, Civic Media|
“I formed the company about three years ago, with my partner Lauren, when I was made redundant from my last job. I'd been working in the print industry for 14 years, so I decided it was about time I utilised my skills and started a company of my own,” said Adam. “The idea was to make my own way by hard work, selling service and quality. I was very positive starting the company, and it must have rubbed off on clients.”
Civic Media began supplying construction site signage and banners, with a focus on high quality imaging and colour to provide a more arresting advertising space for clients.
“We noticed that the printing on construction sites was poor quality, so we marketed our products as similar to point of sale quality, and we won a lot of work from that,” Adam recalled. “We ran one machine and scored a couple of big contracts to kick us off in the first year, and it started growing from there.
“In our first year, our New South Wales sales were about 80 per cent of our turnover, but we’ve turned that around so Queensland is now about 80 per cent and the rest of Australia is about 20 per cent.”
Addressing the challenges That business growth, while welcome, eventually created production bottlenecks for Civic Media. The company invested in three more printers, but the hard grind of constant production and client demands for shorter turnaround times took their toll on both machines and staff.
“We had four machines, which we ran 24 hours a day, six days a week, and we noticed that the two UV machines weren’t up to the job, breaking down constantly and costing a lot of money to maintain,” said Adam. “Those machines were flogged!”
Adam knew he had to find a solution for the company’s lack of printing capacity, the attendant quality and maintenance demands of its overworked equipment inventory and its reliance on outsourced finishing for products. He also wanted to address pressing demands for shorter turnarounds.
Finding the solution
After extensive research, Civic Media invested in a Fujifilm Uvistar 5m super-wide format printer. Capable of printing onto standard production papers, PVC, PE, textiles and backlit films, the Uvistar 5m offers production speeds up to 350m2 per hour in a single pass. The Piezo drop-on-demand inkjet system delivers a true resolution of 600dpi, with an apparent resolution of 1200dpi. Fujifilm Sericol’s Uvijet QK UV curable inks provide vivid colour rendition, and cure instantly.
Building on the benefits
With the Fujifilm Uvistar 5m installed, Civic Media decommissioned its four older printers, yet still noticed an immediate surge in productivity. Three shifts have been reduced to one, with a second shift running temporarily to meet Christmas season demand.
Adam Middleton was surprised by the difference the Uvistar 5m made to the company’s operations.
“Our initial pitch was quality, but now it’s quality and turnaround times,” he said. “We scrapped our old machines for the Fujifilm Uvistar 5m, and now our output is so high we can turn jobs around in days, instead of more than a week.”
Civic Media is able to use the Fujifilm Uvistar 5m for printing multiple jobs at once, taking advantage of its five-metre width to triple production levels.
Adam Middleton explained, “We always run three rolls up — that shortens turnaround times, and is cost effective for us. We’ve convinced clients to go with the 1.6-metre width, because it makes it a lot cheaper for us to print, and it sits better on fences too.
“A construction site job of, say, 400 metres of mesh used to take us over a day to print, and about a week to have it finished, but now it would take about 80 minutes to print it and about two hours to finish it. It’s changed our production dramatically.”
At the same time the company was able to provide its own finishing services, so there was no longer a need to outsource them. That not only improved turnaround times but had a welcome impact on the company’s bottom line.
“We were outsourcing our finishing as well, but now we’ve pulled everything in-house. We’re now making more profit by having it all in-house, and having greater control of turnaround times and quality,” said Adam.
As a result, Civic Media has expanded its sales force and is considering new markets with a greater variety of products.
“We’ve just taken on extra salespeople, and we’re training them about our products and how we work. We can’t rely solely on the construction industry, so we’ve started going for the Royal Queensland Show and other shows — we’re targeting events because they will always happen. We’ve also started moving towards the point-of-sale market to grow our
business some more,” Adam said.
One thing Civic Media shares with its owner is an abundance of confidence. Adam Middleton knows where he wants the company to go.
“We don’t want to be a huge company; we’d rather stay quite small, and profitable,” he said. “We have a couple of things in the pipeline for a greater reach in Australia and in New Zealand too.
“We’re happy, keeping on with the Fujifilm machine we have, and have a lot of ideas for more products. We’re always looking to expand into a higher quality market. We’re hoping that by February or March next year we’ll be at close to full capacity and will be ordering another Fujifilm machine. We’re looking at another style of Uvistar at the moment, called the Pro8, because we have a lot of flatbed work now.”
Civic Media reflects Adam Middleton’s own ambition for a secure future, founded on drive and meticulous planning. He considers a little risk as part of running a business.
“I think a lot of people are scared at the moment to invest in new equipment so they use their old equipment to do the job, while people who do invest in new equipment are capitalising on the opportunities. I’m a strong believer in if you take a calculated risk, it will pay off. We want to push the company as hard as possible, because we’re still young, and take a little bit of risk. We’ve already seen it pay off, so I think that path is the best way to go.”
For more information, please contact Nadine Lafleur, PR & Marketing Manager at FUJIFILM