Blackmore celebrates award-winning apprentice and solar install

Sapko was recognised at the BPIF's apprenticeship lunch
Sapko was recognised at the BPIF's apprenticeship lunch

Shaftesbury-based printer Blackmore has celebrated apprentice digital operator, Mateusz Sapko, after he took home a BPIF award.

Recognised on 10 November at the BPIF’s Apprenticeship Graduation and Awards Lunch, Sapko has been a real credit to the programme over the past two years, according to Nigel Hunt, the firm’s production director.

He told Printweek: “Mateusz really stood out.

“His mentor left us not long after he started, and the way he adapted was quite brilliant. He really took on the department, and has almost become an operator as a trainee.

“He takes everything on board really well and just rises to the challenge, whatever we throw at him.”

Sapko said: "I am so happy and thankful to Blackmore for recognising my hard work over the past two years, since I started my apprenticeship and employment with them. My success wouldn't have been possible without the people that I work with on a day-to-day basis.

“I didn't expect to be nominated for this award and the fact that I became the winner seems unreal. I just wanted to say thank you again and I hope for even greater successes in the future together with Blackmore." 

Sapko will now take a break, working as an operator on Blackmore’s recently installed Ricoh Pro C9200 digital press and finishing kit, before beginning his pre-press apprenticeship module.

The Ricoh’s purchase in March 2023 was part of a £3.5m investment drive in new, energy-efficient kit, including Komori GL540 Advance and GL540 Hybrid presses.

The drive for efficiency has now been complemented by Blackmore’s switch to fully renewable energy sources, following its installation of £200,000 worth of solar panels on its roof.

The 693 panels are expected to produce 284MWh of electricity annually – equivalent to 55 tonnes of CO2 – and will pay for themselves within three years.

The panels themselves will account for approximately one third of Blackmore’s energy usage. The firm has decided to switch to a green tariff from EDF, whereby all electricity is generated from renewable sources.

Blackmore’s managing director, Andrew Robbins, said: “A lot of thought and planning has gone into the solar project. We have been working on this for around 18 months from initial research to implementation. 

“The key benefit of installing the solar panels is that it will significantly reduce our carbon footprint, whilst providing long-term cost savings. The investment is a sizeable development in a wider drive to limit our impact on the environment alongside being a responsible manufacturer and employer.”

Following a structural survey, Blackmore decided to carry out strengthening work to its factory’s frame and purlins – horizontal beams – to ensure it could bear the load, even with heavy snowfall.

Robbins added: “With the combination of our investments in solar panels, new state-of-the-art technology, energy supply and partnership with greener suppliers, we are well on our way to achieving our goal of net-zero this decade.”