Clegg Media embarks on next growth phase
By Brian Stickland
The Clegg Media success story, like most business success stories only comes after much sacrifice and the overcoming of many hurdles by its leadership. For Colin Clegg, CEO of the business, perhaps the last quarter of 2007 was perhaps one of the most challenging of his career.
Not only did Clegg Media take over SS Signs & Graphics, a specialist vehicle wrapping business, simultaneously making Steve Lambourne (SS Signs & Graphics owner) a partner in Clegg Media. Colin also sold his premises in Cannon Hill, Brisbane and purchased much more spacious ‘state of the art’ premises down the road in Cleveland.
Together with Steve, they bought the building next door to cater for their next expansion phase which they haven’t even planned yet but know it must come.
If that wasn’t enough action for this last quarter, Colin placed the first order in Australia for a new Gandi Jeti 1224 UV Flatbed Printer, breaking away from his love affair with Vutek, citing that the Gandi was the only machine he found that would give him the accuracy and quality required to enter his new niche market – retail.
In an interview with Wide Format Online during December 2007 and only 12 days after Clegg Media moved into their new premises, Colin showed us around the new facilities.
During the tour Colin said the vehicle wrapping side of Clegg Media had been growing steadily over the last eighteen months or so with the bulk of the installations being outsourced to SS Signs & Graphics.
”The fact that the two companies have come together under one roof was a kind of natural progression resulting from an excellent relationship and mutual respect for each other’s workmanship”, said Colin. “In addition I had to consider the fact that I would be bowing out of the business at some stage within the next 5 -10 years and Steve is still young and will form an important part of the succession planning.”
Colin’s son Barry is also part of that long term planning. Twenty two year old Barry started in the business after leaving school and is presently a vital cog in the Clegg Media business. He has worked his way through nearly all departments but has mainly concentrated on production, he is now moving into sales, marketing and customer service.
This success story would be incomplete without the backing and support from the home. Marion, Colin’s wife of 30 years has been an integral part of the business since day one, in fact for the first seven years she even held down another job whilst doing the books for Colin. Today she is the full time Financial Controller of the business.
Colin and Marion’s eldest son Chris, aged 28, does not work in the business but has been successful in his own right with Powerlink (a leading Transmission Network Service Provider).
The new Clegg Media building includes two custom designed vehicle wrapping centres. One for cars and utes and the other for large trucks and buses. At the time of our interview, shortly after the move, there was an extensive queue of vehicles waiting to be wrapped.
”The business started eleven years ago and I worked from home, initially as a consultant, helping clients unravel the mystery of the new digital wide format technology. In those days there were only a handful of digital wide format printers around plus of course the traditional sign writing and screen-printing industries. As you can imagine there was considerable confusion amongst print buyers as to the threats and opportunities the new digital machines represented.
“Prior to that I spent twelve years with Australian Posters in the days when they were a large company before being split up into several divisions. My first five years with them, I worked as New Business Manager in Sydney and latterly as Queensland State Production Manager where my role included organising the production of copy and signage installations.
”We were one of the first to do sign writing onto self adhesive vinyl and then ship finished banners out to the more remote clients who could then do the installation themselves.
”A bit later on when the first wide format machines came along we printed onto the self adhesive vinyl and then sent these out.
”During those years I built up considerable experience with both the printing and the installation of all types of printed product. So in 1996 I decided to go it alone.”
”It didn’t take long for me to realise that I needed to get some printing equipment as I was being let down by suppliers more and more often.
“I started off with just one Encad machine, one of the pioneers of the wide format industry. That installation was quickly followed by another one and then after about five years of being in business I bought the first Vutek in Queensland, the UltraVu 2360 solvent machine.
The rest is history. The second Vutek came along in 2004, this time the 180, an eight colour UV Flatbed/Roll to Roll machine which was the first in Australia and then in 2006 the 3200 UV Flatbed/Roll to Roll 6 colour machine which was the first in Queensland.
All three machines are still producing good quality work and servicing a broad range of clients.
”I never buy a machine without first making sure I have the work for it”, stated Colin. “In my opinion it would be foolhardy in the extreme to buy a machine and only then start to look for the work to keep it busy”
At the time of our meeting in the new Cleveland premises, the Vutek’s were ‘humming’ as they churned out the work, but it was not the shop front that Colin normally has ready for his visitors. “Give me another few weeks and we will ready to entertain’, said Colin.
The state of the art premises are designed with both Colin’s and Steve’s years of experience in the business. Just some of the features of the new facilities include:
* Fully air conditioning throughout- an essential ingredient in the Brisbane heat and humidity which can play havoc with media when printing. Also, of course vital for staff productivity.
* a sunken sewing machine so banners do not have to be lifted on to a table.
* Two new vehicle wrapping stations.
The new Gandi will be installed by March 2008.
With a Mutoh 1604 Valuejet and an Epson 9600 sitting alongside his existing Vuteks, we had to ask about Clegg Media’s involvement with Fine Art Reproduction. To our surprise Colin stated that until recently he owned a couple of galleries, one in Brisbane and the other in Sydney and he traded as Digital Gallery. The Mutoh and Epson still work hard but its print on demand now, he said.
”We formed Digital Gallery in 2003 with the view to providing quality affordable fine artwork reproductions to the public,” he said.
”We opened two stores one in Pyrmont, Sydney and one in West End, Brisbane with the view to opening further stores via franchising with the printing being done at Clegg Media.
”We believed it was an excellent concept however we may have been a little ahead of our time as customers continually commented how good the reproductions were, however sales did not meet our expectations so we decided to close the retail stores in mid 2007 and to only print fine art on demand.
”If I could change one thing in my career to date, I would not have formed the Digital Gallery business as it did cost us quite a lot before we closed it last year. However as the saying goes - It is better to have tried & failed than to have not tried at all!
“I prefer to look forward than back, but probably would not have done things much differently, the one part of having your own business that had always appealed to me was that when you saw an opportunity you could make your own decision to run with it, however as we started the business with $1500 and Marion & I had to share a vehicle we knew we had to crawl before sprinting!”
He predicts that the future of digital wide format printing will be a large increase of static print heads within one machine with the substrate moving beneath the heads. (These machines are beginning to emerge as we have reported before but are in their early development stages.)
What do the Clegg’s do on their days off? “Marion and I like to spend our leisure time at our apartment at Hope Island where I am now taking up golf after playing a lot of soccer, squash & tennis in my younger years.”
Colin will be a part of our industry for several more years, so watch this space for the next instalment in the Clegg Media story.
Clegg Media Pty Ltd