The company held a special dinner and party for its employees on Saturday with special guests former Konica Minolta president and now senior adviser Akiyoshi Ohno and global sales manager Hiryasu Endo attending from Japan.
Ohno presented Corall with a commemorative plaque and a large ceramic maneki-neko, the Japanese beckoning cat thought to bring good luck to the owner.
Ohno spoke about how important IIJ, which was established as a European distribution business for Konica Minolta’s industrial inkjet heads, was to the Japanese company. The two manufacturers are collaborating on a demonstration at Drupa but no details are yet available.
Dinner was followed by a disco and dancing. It was, according to managing director and company founder John Corrall, “a lot like a wedding”.
He said the best thing about IIJ’s first 10 years was its 43 members of staff.
“My team is my highlight. The team I’ve got is great and I’m very proud of them,” he told PrintWeek.
Corrall said growth had been steady over the past decade but 2016 could be IIJ’s “hockey stick year”.
“We are hopeful that a lot of these markets that we’ve been working on for some time will really start to ramp up, such as security and packaging. We’re in so many markets. Track and trace, just looking at the print examples, that’s gone up this year, for example. And geographically we are in lots of different places.
“We’re known for direct product decoration but that’s so much hard work. Every machine is custom. I’m not looking for explosive growth there. We’re looking for is the hockey stick where sales rise at a much steeper angle.
“Inkjet had several boom and bust cycles. 10 years ago wide-format was the thing. Konica Minolta didn’t want me to do wide-format but it suddenly took off. You get two or three years of boom and the market is saturated, the big question is what’s going to happen next and getting ready for it. Everyone in the industry is trying to make sure they are bidding on the right horse.”
Corrall said 2015 had seen the second big jump in inkjet speed in just a few years, to 200m per minute and quality had also improved. Thinking about developments in 2016 he added: "It's been a while since anything radical happened on the ink front. That would be my prediction."
Swavesey, Cambridgeshire-based IIJ uses Konica Minolta inkjet print head technology to build custom systems for clients ranging from niche companies to global giants in sectors such as pharmaceutical, security printing, labels, packaging, confectionery, flooring and laminates.
IIJ is also the official sales and technical support centre for Konica Minolta products outside of Asia.
Corrall started the company in December 2005 over dinner with then Konica Minolta president Ohno.
“Five minutes into a conversation at dinner Ohno-san asked me to run industrial inkjet sales and technical support in Europe,” said Corrall. “I said I was going to set up a company anyway, so we shook hands. And it has just grown from there.”
From providing expertise and parts for machines, in 2007 IIJ made a new label-making system that was launched by Konica Minolta at Drupa in 2008. After that show, it began making its own complete industrial inkjet systems.
The company had a turnover of £4.7m and made an operating profit of £357,806 and a pre-tax profit of £360,720 in its financial year to December 31, 2014. The company said it had seen an increase in sales this year.