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It's hard to imagine that the company we know as DES today has been around for three decades and that its initial 'seed' was sown from within the construction plan sector.
Back in the late 80s Brothers Ian and Tim Clare acquired Drafting Equipment & Supplies, a sensitised (diazo) paper coating plant and paper converting operation which supplied direct to customers as well as through dealer channels in Australia and New Zealand.

The business transformed steadily - over the years, it has embarked on an impressive journey through vast and interesting technological terrain, growing and evolving from traditional drafting to the emerging era of digital proofing, then onto digital printing and by association, into the signage industry.
"From supplying photographic paper for plan printing and manual drafting of plans on tracing paper (which then turned into plain paper copying), CAD for plan generation and printing and original pen plotters, DES moved into supplying inkjet printers and media for end users and print for pay markets," explains Tim, elaborating on the operation's expansion from construction printing into graphics, then photographic and fine arts and ultimately, the sign and display markets.
DES has clearly gained a strong reputation within the graphics prepress proofing market as the colour management experts.
"Advanced technology coupled with a high level of technical expertise in delivering high quality colour matching and profiling provided the formula to become the dominant supplier in this space," he says, pointing out that this expertise has transferred from the graphics markets to deliver high quality results in the photo, fine arts and sign markets.
A national organisation with sales offices, warehouse/distribution centres and technicians in every state across Australia, DES has an impressive line of of equipment, namely:
• MFP printers from Epson, Canon and HP as well as wide format copiers from Ricoh – offered to the CAD industry.
• The Epson SureColor P Series and Canon iPF Graphics range – offered to the Graphics & Photo and Fine Art sectors of the industry.
• OKI ColorPainter, Epson and Roland solvent printer ranges and EFI Rastek and Vutek UV ranges plus Roland - offered to the signage industry.
Standout products that come to mind for Tim include the Epson T5200, Epson Surecolor S80600 and OKI ColorPainter M-64s.
"Epson's T5200 has been an outstanding performer in the CAD market with its high reliability and productivity

Epson T5200a  
The Epson's T5200  

combined with low operating costs," says Tim, also lauding the praises of the recently launched Epson's Surecolor S80600 and OKI's ColorPainter M-64s - both geared towards the signage industry.
According to Tim, the Surecolor S80600 has impressed the market with its outstanding quality and exceptional colour gamut (with the addition of Red and Orange inks plus the choice of White or Metallic inks,)  while the ColorPainter M-64s has achieved outstanding sales. Appealing to a broad customer need, it delivers high productivity, wide colour gamut and exceptional quality and low operating costs.

Epson SureColor S80600b
The Epson SureColor S80600
ColorPainter M 64s
OKI's ColorPainter M-64s

Tim believes that DES's strength lies in its experience in printer servicing.
"Our aim is to partner with our clients to provide the level of support so that they can meet and exceed their clients expectations for product excellence and quality,” he says.
"We have a strong team of breakfix technicians in each state. To support our commitment in delivering quality service for the broad range of printers, we have product specialists in each range. The staff are the 'go to' specialists to deliver advanced support as well as training to ensure our technicians can deliver on our commitments to our customers for service and reliability," he explains, pointing out that the company also has very highly qualified and dedicated Applications Technicians  in the niche areas of colour management and RIP support, supporting its client base nationally.
This does not mean that DES, or any company for that matter can rest on its laurels. Customers are constantly acquiring new skill sets of their own and technology is becoming more and more advanced, leading to a diminishing value in the market. This will always present a challenge.
"Colour Management is a particular case in point for us," says Tim, confirming how technology changes have diminished the overwhelming need for that particular skill set in the graphics market.
However, he is heartened by the fact that as technology changes that same expertise in colour management is now proving its worth as the Sign and Display market matures.
"More often, we see customers who have invested in expensive printers to be disappointed that their production output does not meet the clients expectations. Invariably the problem is less with the printer but more with the expertise in setting up the printer, media and production workflows to ensure the capabilities of the printer are met.
"That is where the DES Applications Specialists are now getting more involved in working closely with our clients to ensure they are achieving the productivity and quality limits of their equipment and printing processes," he explains.
With regard to adapting to the future of wide format printing in Australia, Tim shares with us the following:
"For the past 30 years of trading – our one constant has been change. Printing has evolved from a chemical process, through analogue and into digital print technology. Printers continue to become faster, wider, higher quality, broader colour gamut and lower capital and production costs. Digital printing continues to challenge the boundaries for screen and offset printing as speed and quality continue to improve.
"The current market for printing is seeing the merging of several different markets. But those markets – while using similar technology, still retain the principles of their core market. Whether that principle is based on productivity and job turnaround, high quality in managing customer expectations in corporate marketing or a focus on low production costs, those fundaments remain with each market.
"DES has a long background in digital print production and understands these fundamentals. Our philosophy is on delivering the full solution that is right for each market and customer – not just selling printers and media and leaving it to the customer to sort out how to make it work but working as a partner with our customers in delivering the right outcome," he concludes.