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Women in Signage

Written by Mel Forbes of the Granite Belt magazine

With the commercial print industry in our country having an annual celebration of the benefits that women have made to that side of the industry (Women in Print), we thought we would look at the wide format industry and put the spotlight on the journey a number of women in our industry have taken in their careers.

For obvious reasons we could not call this Women in Wide Format (as much as we wanted to), so we have called it Women in Signage.

Apologies to all those hard working women that are not included in this short exposé of just four of our outstanding ladies.

Margie Davies

Lauren Davies with owner Margaret Davies
Margie Davies (right) with daughter Lauren

Allow me to introduce to you a woman who has worked in the printing and sign industry now for over 35 years, Margie Davies currently owns and manages Print n Copy in Stanthorpe, (Queensland).
Over the years Margie has had many varying roles from typesetting, graphic design, management of a busy type house to owning and running her own digital print business. Through to dealing with the rapid changes of technology and what that has meant for this printing business owner. Creating and maintaining a number of client’s websites, Margie has moved with technology to deliver for clients their changing needs. Margie loves her Roland wide format printer, which does most of the signage work.

Stanthorpe Print n Copy is also home to The Granite Belt Magazine, a bi-monthly magazine which now has a distribution of 6000 throughout the Granite Belt and is also online.
Keeping with the spirit of running a true family based business, Margie has her daughter Lauren working in the print shop.  Lauren has worked through the Certificate III in Graphic Design and Printing Prepress. With her keen eye for landscape photography and developing skills in product photography, Lauren particularly enjoys creating vinyl stickers on the Roland.

Trish Ladstatter
Trish Ladstatter The Sign PlaceTrish Ladstatter and her husband, Thomas started The Sign Place in Maitland 1998 with just the 2 of them. Nearly 20 years on, they have grown to having 5 people in the business on any given day. In casting her mind back, Trish slightly shakes her head with the equipment they began with, the humble plotter and a computer – having grown to today to now include a variety of wide format printing devices as well as a router for 3D signs. As Trish explains, they develop in house product lines as well as banners, A frames and vehicle signage.

Trish said that the challenges a business faces in trying to keep up with the rapid change of technology are daunting. It can be so tempting to be blinded by ‘shiny new object syndrome’ by wanting to invest in a new piece of technology each year.  However, remaining focussed on the core printing business, whilst riding the changes that technology continues to deliver is the key.
Trish notes that a major change since opening the business has been the lack of customer face-to-face dealings, it’s now all about online. Trish rates being online as the most important piece of equipment in today’s market. Over the last decade of being in business, the Global Financial Crisis in 2007/08 was definitely a difficult period that affected their business with few people wanting to upgrade their signage needs.
Trish loves the Roland, this machine could take out the honours of being the favoured piece of machinery as it has so much commercial scope and flexibility. The Mimaki Printer comes into the spotlight as well, being able to do all the printing on substrate materials for signage.
Being in Maitland, an area that enjoys high growth, Trish looks forward to balancing the challenges of rising energy costs, insurance and work cover to continue to grow their successful business.
A firm believer in training her staff appropriately, inhouse training is a core value provided by The Sign Place.

Ann Alison

Tecnoscan David Piggot Printroom Supervisor Ann Allison OwnerDirector Tanya Cotronese Admin
David Piggot Printroom Supervisor, Ann Allison Owner/Director, Tanya Cotronese Admin

Ann Alison of Technoscan operates from Yeerongpilly in Brisbane and has been a part of the business for the last 15 years when the business was all about printing off architectural plans and being a wholesale paper merchant in its earlier life. Technoscan has been going since 1983, currently employing 2 fulltime and 2 part time employees.
Inspirational Ann, nearly 70 years young enjoys dealing with the daily challenges of running a printing business whose core business is printing. Technoscan began with 2x Ocė TDS800 printers and a black and white copier.

Let’s talk machines and the evolution of what has been used in Technoscan:
Business increased when they moved to Canon wide format printers but now the company operates a Roland VS640i, HPLatex 25500, finishing machines, celloglazes, Fuji Versant 80 copier, Fuji 550 Versant copier, Duplo 616 Trims/Creases/Perforates.

When the business got it’s first colour copier, that was when business started building, the purchase of the Roland saw another boost to business. For many years the business had only one major customer, Ann implemented an advertising campaign and grew the business to develop more walk-in customers, the advertising strategy worked and this is now the majority of the business. As a point of difference to other businesses, Ann doesn’t employ any social media as part of the business strategy and are happily working the status quo which will be under review in 12 months.

Ann takes issue with graphic designers coming out of training institutes, she expresses amazement at their lack of ability to create a print ready file, commenting that there seems to be more emphasis on artistic merit and not on being industry ready.

Francesca Thorne
Francesca Thorne edited 2Let’s now turn to powerhouse woman Francesca Thorne. Francesca has managed to develop some powerful networks for both women and men - the Australian Women’s Network, Australian Men’s Network and International Men’s Day. With her husband Lindsay Thorne, a 40 year veteran of the signage industry, Francesca started Magnum Signs after they met in 2006, a business that is still going strong today both in the digital and traditional aspects of signage.

In the eleven years Magnum Signs has been trading, Francesca and Lindsay have seen many changes in the industry and often think back to the “olden days” when all signs were done with brushes and paints.  Magnum Signs are still one of the few that can still produce signs the old way.
“It’s great to have women in the industry with their skills and talent.” Francesca said. “The Australian Women’s Network have decided that as women leaders, we need to promote positive male role models, not just movie stars and sportsmen. According to the ASX top 200 companies, 76% of business leaders today are men, therefore it is vitally important that these male leaders become engaged on the critically important issues.
Not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it’s the smart thing to do. We at AWN believe that if men take on this challenge, we as a society can achieve the transformative change that our country needs. We are here to celebrate positive contributions to our community, family life, marriage, child care, mental health and to the environment by men. We need to focus on men’s health and well-being, including social, emotional, physical and spiritual. Australia is one of the most diverse countries in the world and diversity and inclusion are an important part of the Australian way of life. AWN, in conjunction with our sponsors, affiliates and White Ribbon Australia, celebrates and embraces diversity in all its forms.”

In her career refocus Francesca developing AWN, AMN and IMD, Francesca looks for the balance both genders bring to any situation. Having worked in Logistics, Construction and Signage for over 35years, Francesca doesn’t believe there are barriers to women participating in Industry and it is wonderful to have women bringing their skills and talent to all areas of Industry.