Mark Lane finds out how a Teesside-based print and design business has transformed itself from a traditional print business to embrace modern technology and equipment in moves which have helped it to double its turnover over the last six years

Teesprint got off to a flying start when it was founded by Gordon Teesdale in 1982, winning a big contract with pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline. The company still works with that client 37 years later.

The Middlesbrough business, which supplies print, design, promotional/corporate gifts and exhibition stands, has grown organically since then, moving premises twice as it has expanded. Investment in technology and workforce has accelerated this growth and Teesprint has doubled its turnover since 2013.

“After our best year ever in 2018 and on target to beat that in 2019, we’d have to say our main aspiration is to keep growing at the same rate as recent years, allowing us to employ more people and develop our customer offering,” says Mark Cullen, sales manager.

Teesprint now employs 18 people, split across its production, graphic design and office departments.

Mark adds: “We were a successful traditional print company for our first 30 years. However, the increase in digitalisation
hit the industry hard and we had to react. In doing so we have experienced far more growth recently than during the boom times of print.

“Because of the changes we had to make, it has altered the whole culture and direction of the organisation. As a result, we now have a roster of high profile customers and blue chip clients that we are extremely proud to work with.”

The business has invested in its IT Infrastructure and a new customer management system. It has also put “substantial investment” into plant equipment. This includes a new litho press, two new digital presses, a new print plate maker, a full suite of finishing equipment for binding, stitching and folding, new Macs and design software, a Mimaki flat bed printer and large format printer, laser cutter and sub-surface laser engraver.

“To keep up and innovate in the design and print sector, we have invested heavily over the last three years in our people, equipment and our infrastructure,” explains Mark.

“Getting the right people in key roles is one of our main drivers. To keep growing and advancing as a business over the last two years we’ve employed four new team members to support our growing client base.”

Digitalisation has brought big changes to the print industry over the past ten years with a lot of print now made unnecessary. Cullen cites the example of signing for goods, which once

required several forms to track everything, but now hand held devices allow more streamlined, cost effective, paperless systems. Inevitably, many traditional print companies have gone out of business. “On the marketing print side, online catalogues with real time pricing and stock listings means we are no longer reliant on vast numbers of printed catalogues,’’ says Mark.

“To continue to be relevant, Teesprint has developed a completely client-focused approach, moulding our offering around what customers need in these modern times. Whereas print, along with TV and radio, were the only forms of marketing, they are now just one part of a much wider marketing mix.’’

However, while high volume print is declining, small run personalised focussed campaigns are on the up, Mark explains. Print runs are coming back, companies which moved everything to email and online are returning, as they realise many people still like to hold a physical product. Promotional gifts are also growing as research confirms it’s one of the most effective marketing tools.

“The sheer number of emails and volume of other digital information people receive means that print, promotional gifts and targeted mail campaigns done right will cut through all the noise and present a company’s message and brand front and centre of the target audience,” he says.

Teesprint has enjoyed impressive growth in recent years, but it is still looking for new business and this is supported by its membership of the North East England Chamber of Commerce.

Mark says: “We were actively looking to raise our profile within the North East and being a member of the chamber allows us to reach a huge spectrum of customers and sectors at the variety of events that are put on, including the Exchange and local events.”

“We have also made great use of our relationship manager, Rachel Thompson, to make introductions to other chamber members that we might have been struggling to otherwise facilitate directly from our side.”