Octane Digital started life a year ago and, and those 12 months have seen it go from strength to strength. So, how can a business do so well when it started up just before the world economy tanked?Simon Taylor and Richard Nugent, co-founders and directors of Octane Digital, weren’t joking when they began their business on April Fool’s Day of last year. Taylor says, “We never noticed the date. We certainly weren’t trying to be clever about it.”
Joking aside, one thing the pair succeeds in being clever about is printing. Taylor started his career in a small print company in the early 90s. Initially, he learned desktop publishing, scanning and film imaging. After Soar Printing purchased the company at the end of 1995, Taylor stayed on and, over 12 years, he managed the prepress, plate room and digital print department there, as it set up its prepress systems, computer to plate, digital printing department, online ordering and web to print systems.
Nugent possesses some 50 years experience in the printing industry, in letterpress, offset and digital printing. Over the last 35 years, he has owned two large offset printing companies.
Pride of place at Octane’s central Auckland premises belongs to a seven colour HP Indigo 5500 press. Taylor considers the machine a major strength for Octane and says it is interesting how Nugent, with his vast knowledge of all facets of the industry, is so taken with digital printing and, in particular, with the Indigo. Taylor quips, “He runs the machine more than me.”
The small company offers a range of digital print options including labels, letterheads, personalised cards and invitations. It specialises in personalised marketing collateral, image personalisation and web to print sales force collateral and it receives a lot of high-end agency work. Taylor finds that these customers really have a clear idea of what they want and often how they want it done. He says, “They ask for the Indigo, which is good as I still consider it the best machine. We also do work for other printing companies and small designers. They appreciate the fact we have an Indigo.”
Taylor and Nugent have moved the company as quickly as possible to full automation in most facets of its operations. Taylor says, “I’d like to see more online jobs. With the software we have, customers can quote jobs online receiving information about different stocks etc. They can upload their own file online, check their own pdf, even pre-flight their own pdf. The online option means the customer can impose it and send the file directly to the press. It cuts out the estimating and prepress. A while ago, we thought we needed another person for estimating but now the software does it for us. About 70 per cent of our work can be quoted online.” VDP gives Octane the opportunity to explore short run personalised printing further, coming in handy for companies or individuals whose details change constantly.
Despite the rush to automation, Octane’s staff list has grown from two to five in a short time. However, Taylor believes that the savings that automation provides in relation to estimating, prepress and wages are worthwhile and can be ploughed back into the business. He says, “We’ve bought a little platen because we’d like to keep as much work as possible in house. It won’t be too soon that we’ll have to move to a larger building, but we want to stay in the same area.”
Taylor finds Octane’s central location useful in several ways. Its proximity to the city and transport routes comes in handy and, when he ever needs to talk to his old boss, Soar Print is a couple of minutes up the road. Taylor says, “I live a few kilometres in the other direction to Soar Print from here. When I told Fred (Fred Soar, managing director of Soar Print) that I wanted to go into business for myself, he asked why and I replied, ‘I want to move closer to home.’ He got the joke.”
While a detailed knowledge of digital and offset printing, IT and desktop publishing software gives Octane an edge, Taylor doesn’t dwell for long on considering why the company keeps growing in such a tough and competitive economic climate. He admits there may be too much press power in Auckland and across the country but expresses a straightforward philosophy in dealing with that. He concludes, “People are starting to shop around and budgets are getting tighter but if you perform your service well and price it right, you’ll be okay.”