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Ahead of the Curve


Rob Fletcher talks to Kevin Lee, operations director at Deanprint, about the key to the company’s longevity and its ongoing commitment to new investment

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In 2015, Deanprint reached a landmark anniversary, celebrating 125 years in business

And the rest is history

Too often we hear about companies going out of business, not only in the print industry, but also in other markets. Often the main reasons behind closures are down to the company not keeping up with the pace of the sector in which they had been operating.

On the flip side, we are hearing of many other businesses going strong, thanks to their commitment to investment, change and innovation. One such company is Deanprint, a stalwart of the printing industry having been in operation since 1890.

Deanprint has been based at its current site in Stockport, near Manchester, since 1920

The firm celebrated its 125-year anniversary in 2015, a feat that should leave many companies green with envy. Deanprint has been based on its current site in Stockport near Manchester since 1920, making it one of the most historic print companies still in operation in the UK today.

But with all of this said, how do you sustain a business for so long, especially in a market as changeable as print? Operations director Kevin Lee puts this down to one key focus: investment.

The old view of replacing a tired piece of kit with a slightly less tired version has gone

“Since our management buy-out in 2012, we have worked on our programme of investment to replace and renew all major items of equipment central to our business,” he says, adding: “The old view of replacing a tired piece of kit with a slightly less tired version has gone.

“We now buy new and ‘top spec’ as much as possible. Replacing a major item of machinery each year, paying off each machine as we go, so our case making, sewing, perfect binding and casing in equipment have all been replaced.

“We also ensure we never stretch ourselves financially, we endeavour to pay for each item before we move forward again.”

Adapting to change

This statement certainly rings true when you consider Deanprint’s most recent market activity—the purchase of the first MBO K80 full automatic combination folder in the UK. Supplied by Friedheim International, the machine joins four new Baumann Wohlenberg guillotines, a Quickbinder and Trim-Tec three-knife trimmer from Wohlenberg, completing a six-year upgrade programme.

Features on the new MBO include a patented slitter shaft cassette, which allow the shaft to be slid out, removed and re-installed. All tools and strippers can be adjusted quickly at minimal strain to the operator, which Friedheim says helps to reduce set-up times by almost 60 percent in a multi-up production.

Lee adds: “The MBO K80 is a superb machine; it beat the competition due not only to the level of automation, but the slitter shaft cassette. This has been a great hit with the operators. It means make readies are incredibly fast, so we can improve efficiency in the fold area, helping us to improve customer services and turnaround times.”

The company runs over 100 pieces of machinery at its facility, but upgrading to new technology such as the MBO is critical to Deanprint, due to the company’s diversified service offering. The firm specialises in three main business areas: wiro-bound education products, government contracts, and commercial print finishing to printing companies across the UK, turning printed sheets into case-bound or perfect-bound books.

Lee notes that Deanprint is also the UK’s largest supplier to the hairdressing market, selling direct to the wholesalers for appointment books and 28 other lines, thus showcasing its drive to reach out to customers across a wide range of markets.

Winning attitude

In among this investment and activity, what is it that makes the company stand out from the crowd? Lee gives a simple answer—the way Deanprint treats both its staff and customers.

We always treat our staff and customers in a manner in which we would want to be treated

He says: “We always treat our staff and customers in a manner in which we would want to be treated. You can be nice in business, and both our staff and customers appreciate that attitude. Things do go wrong but it’s the way in which you respond to the problem is what can set you apart.

“We have coupled the latest technology with items of equipment that can do sizes or finishers that others have long discarded. This has given us a niche to offer what others can’t.”

Lee leads on from this to explain that investment will not stop with the MBO. The company has plans in place to bring in a new case-making machine to support its existing Kolbus DA260 in order to further expand its ability to meet the demands of both new and existing customers in-house.

He goes on to say: “As well as improvements in our wiro binding department, we are also looking at upgrading our Tharstern Management Information system to the latest version, as we use this to its full from the first sales enquiry through to the final invoice.

Stockport Labour MP Ann Coffey visited Deanprint to congratulate the firm on its 125-year anniversary

“Our IS0 9001:2009 certification was also updated to the ISO 9002:2015 version in January. I believe we were the first in the country to achieve it. This has been a great tool for us for many years to improve and monitor our quality control and forms an integral part of our production process.”

With a high level of uncertainly currently surrounding the industry, mainly due to ongoing concerns regarding the UK’s precarious position with Brexit, it is refreshing to see such a high level of optimism and positivity from a company that has been through much change over the years.

Deanprint is a firm that stands for what all print companies should be aiming for; one that is open to change, but sticks to its core values of treating customers and staff with respect. The modern-day print industry is all about adapting to the constantly changing demands of the consumer; but at the same time, it is critical to remain true to what has served you so well over a business’s lifetime.


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