Topping the list of PrintWeek's annual run-down of the industry's most influential individuals, is York Mailing's Chris Ingram - signalling the return of a printer to the number one slot.
Why "I’m probably more excited about the prospects for print today than I have been for the last 20 years." So said Chris Ingram towards the tail end of last year. Eight months on we can see why, and it’s also why York Mailing’s chief executive has vaulted to the top of our ranking. York Mailing is flying high, having gained £10m in backing from the Business Growth Fund. It is the first and so far only printing company to secure funding this way, and it’s a measure of both the firm’s successful track record and its future ambitions that the investment gained was the maximum possible.
Colleagues say chief executive Ingram’s passion for print is infectious: "He’s absolutely emphatic about printing and he puts that enthusiasm over to staff and customers very well. You can’t help but be inspired by him. He’s a great ambassador for print."
Five years ago when York Mailing won PrintWeek’s coveted Company of the Year Award, turnover at the business was £38m. It’s now double that, and set to breach £100m with the acquisition of Lettershop Group.
Ingram is described as "a real, professional, results-oriented chief executive", who has a great sense of humour, but is also firm but fair, and adept at resolving sticky situations when necessary. He has the ideal foil in chief operating officer Mike Newbould, who brings his military training to the fore with "meticulous" planning. "It’s the perfect combination," says an associate.
Ingram’s devotion to York Mailing is matched by his devotion to his family. He also has something of a passion for fast cars – his everyday runaround being a BMW M3, and we understand some more exotic horsepower of the prancing variety can be found in his garage.
What’s notable about York’s trajectory is that it has been achieved from relatively ordinary beginnings, through focus, a visionary reinvention of the company’s offering, sound business judgment and being open to the opportunities that have arisen along the way, such as 2011’s acquisition of the Pindar web business.
We’d like to think Ingram’s inspirational approach has the potential to spread beyond his own empire. As he says: "It’s easy for people to think the printing industry is in decline. The reality is, if you’re focused on very specific markets, it’s actually quite the reverse."