New year predictions: Kevin Creechan, J Thomson Colour Printers

J Thomson Colour Printers managing director Kevin Creechan enjoyed a combination of sporting and business highlights in 2017, and hopes that 2018 will be a year when the industry does more to communicate the value of printed products.

What’s at the top of your Christmas wish list this year?

Health and happiness for my family and friends is always at the top of the list, however in addition to that I would like some magic formula to lower my golf handicap, pills to reverse the ageing process, the ability to consume more alcohol before getting drunk… and can I have a young Debbie Harry please!

From a business perspective I would like (a) a guarantee that in 2018 all our equipment will run at 100% capacity and at maximum speed with no breakdowns and (b) to be given the power to reverse the increasing “print is just a commodity” trend.


What trend do you think 2017 will be remembered for?

2017 was probably the year when the industry realised just how powerful the internet printers have become and how powerful they will be in the future. It’s a step-change and an irreversible one at that.

It will also be the year when those in the industry became full aware of the benefits of LED UV technology and how for certain businesses it can be transformational.

J Thomson has seen first-hand the benefits LED UV technology can bring and it hasn’t disappointed.


What do you think will represent the single biggest opportunity for printers in 2018 and why?

I don’t think that there is a single big opportunity out there at the moment although I suspect that there will be a huge interest in LED UV technology. It’s probably too soon for ink-jet to go mainstream and press technology has advanced to the point where each step is now small and incremental.

Maybe we’ll get a surprise though and the government will back a new ‘Buy Print’ campaign. Daft thought but with this government you never know.


What do you think will represent the single biggest threat for printers in 2018 and why?

There are too many businesses which limp along in our sector with no means of investing in plant and equipment. This causes overcapacity and price wars and that remains the biggest threat to those in the industry that are innovative and do invest.

The continued uncertainty caused by Brexit won’t help either – did the majority of English people really vote for this?


What’s the one thing that the industry should do more of, or do better, in 2018?

For an industry that produces hundreds of millions of pounds worth of marketing collateral each year we are extremely poor at self-marketing.

Prices will never recover and indeed will be driven lower on a continuous basis by internet printers and print management companies. However, we must try to find a way to properly market our industry and communicate the benefits of the printed product. 

We are trying to do that at J Thomson and slowly but surely we are seeing the benefits.


What was your biggest disappointment in 2017?

Not reaching number one in the PrintWeek Power 100.


What was your highlight of 2017?

Spending three days in Lisbon in May celebrating the 50th anniversary of Celtic becoming the first British team to win the European Cup, culminating in watching Celtic win an historic, invincible treble on the last of those days. 

Oh and J Thomson winning the Koenig & Bauer 1814 Performance Award of course.


What are your hopes for 2018?

Continued success for J Thomson in an extremely challenging market place, continued growth for Print Scotland and another treble please Brendan – not necessarily in that order!


What was the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

As with most youngsters I was desperate to find a way to make money and to make it quick. One of my relatives took me aside one day and said in a broad Scottish accent: “Son, never chase the cash, chase the power – the cash will follow”.

Simple, but effective advice which I took on board and I have no complaints about how my career has developed.

I still would rather have played centre-mid for Scotland though…


What was the most important thing that you learnt in 2017?

That my wife is always right… And to beware of machine manufacturers who try to sell you a solution which suits them and not you – you know who you are!


What if anything will you do differently in 2018?

Listen to my wife more…


What’s your favourite Christmas cracker joke?

Did you hear the one about the Scottish lamp-post? It peed on the dog.

Juvenile but made me laugh.


What was the best Christmas present you ever received?

Don’t know about the best one but I definitely remember the worst.

My mum, God rest her, was a very simple and practical present giver, you know the type – fresh shirt, nice tie etc. However, this particular year she decided to buy me an assortment of things she thought I might find useful and included in the pack was a lovely brown comb.

I think it must have escaped her notice that I had lost most of my hair about 10 years earlier but as you can imagine it gave my family a right good laugh.

And every year at Christmas time I get reminded about it.


Are you making any New Year's resolutions? If so, what?

I stopped making resolutions years ago as they never last, although a few years ago I vowed to stop drinking alcohol throughout January and February and I actually carried it off.

Never again though…




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