CIM looks to the future with new hires

CIM Signs & Graphics is bouncing back and is optimistic for the future after increasing its headcount by a third just prior to lockdown with five new hires.

Lake got under the skin of CIM quicker as a result of lockdown
Lake got under the skin of CIM quicker as a result of lockdown

The wide-format specialist’s most recent hire was Tom Lake, who joined the business in mid-March as business development manager. He was tasked with growing the Norwich firm’s sales across interior and exterior signs, store facias and, predominantly, wall coverings.

“Lockdown has given me the chance to really get under the skin of CIM,” said Lake.

According to managing director Mark Baker, the business has largely grown over its 20-year history through word-of-mouth, but Lake’s appointment was driven by the desire to add wallpapers to its offering and expand into new markets.

“We took on three people just before the lockdown, we felt horrible. We were really going for it this year. We invested in a Canon Colorado 1650 to really push wallpaper products and everything was buzzing and then the wheels came off,” Baker said. 

“We also took on two junior fitters on in the month before lockdown, so they fell lucky and could be furloughed.”

However, all three March hires are now back in the business, Lake, a production trainee and an additional installer, and staffing is up to 18, with one more member of the team due to come off furlough shortly.

The firm installed a latest generation 1.6m-wide Canon Colorado 1650 just before Christmas as part of plans to grow its wallcoverings business.

The 159sqm/hr, 1,800dpi Colorado runs Canon’s patented UVgel inks and FLXfinish LED UV curing system which enables it to automatically switch between gloss or matte finish.

The four-colour roll-to-roll joined a print battery consisting of a Roland DG, two Mimakis and an Agfa flatbed supported by a range of finishing kit including Rollsroller finishing table and a Blackman & White cutting table.

“That poor thing [the Blackman & White] has been working 24/7 for the past two months and has been a Godsend, cutting floor graphics and screens,” said Baker.

The firm, which celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year, offers the full gamut of wide-format products from signs and banners through to vehicle wraps and instore graphics.

“We’re good at what we do, but not so good about shouting about it,” said Baker.

The business closed for around four weeks at the start of lockdown to “do the right thing”.

“After a few weeks of just chilling in the garden with the kids and a couple more worrying about the finances and figures, we started to see work coming into the market for social distancing and we didn’t really like what we saw [in terms of the designs].

“So, we designed some bespoke social distancing graphics and put it out there and started talking to a few of our retail customers and it just took off and everyone wanted a piece of it luckily.”

As result of its work with its pre-existing clients, which include regional retail chains, garden centres and furniture retailers, the business has also picked up a significant number of new clients as lockdown restrictions have eased across various sectors.

“People were finding out about us and contacting us from all over, which was really nice. We’ve made a lot of new contacts,” said Baker.

“We had high hopes for this year, but it is what it and everyone is in the same boat. We feel really lucky. We’ve learned a lot about the team, as far as their commitment and putting in the hours, the hunger was there. So, it felt good. We’ve just got to hope that come August or September business is still buoyant.

“Hopefully we’re in good stead for when the market picks up. We’ve noticed over the past week or two that a lot more ‘normal’ signage is coming through. So that will feel nice to print something that isn’t yellow and black.”


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