Imagine the scene: it’s a Saturday morning, and you’re feeling a little fragile. You’ve left your wallet at home, but you have managed to scrape together enough coinage from the depths of your jeans pockets to buy the only thing that will make it all better – grease, and lots of it.
But then disaster strikes. It emerges, when you go to order your jumbo fry-up, that the price on the menu is out of date and you’re a pound short. Never, you resolve (perhaps a tad irrationally, through an addled hangover head and expectantly churning stomach), will you visit this pub again.
And never again, perhaps, will the pub chain in question order from the printer that has failed to deliver their up-to-date menus on time. Pub chains alter their food prices on a regular basis and update all tills at the click of a button, explains John Paterson, managing director of Stirland Paterson, a company well-used to catering for the demands of pub chains. So, he explains, it’s important that any printer wanting to court this kind of work can offer very quick turnarounds.
And it’s not just the printing of menus that needs to be done often within the same day that a job is ordered, he explains. Finishing, too, must be carried out in next to no time. This is where a printer outsourcing their laminating, as Stirland Paterson used to do, may well run into problems.
"We were getting great service from our suppliers," says Paterson. "Some were picking it up at four in the afternoon and we were getting the jobs back at nine the next morning. But the trouble was that we were finding more and more that we were getting jobs in at eight in the morning that had to go out at four that afternoon. We’ve even had situations where people were stranding waiting for things in our reception."
The solution, Paterson decided, was to bring laminating in-house. And the machine chosen for the job was Autobond’s Mini 76 T laminator.
"Everyone seems to have an Autobond laminator. They’ve got a great reputation," says Paterson, explaining that because of this reputation, going with Autobond was a no-brainer. "Having seen lots of different laminators over the years, the Autobond would seem to be the only real mainstay of laminators," he adds.
And it wasn’t only quick turnaround demands from the pub trade that spurred Stirland Paterson to make this investment. Established in 1996, the company has always prided itself on its ability to cater for a wide variety of sectors, both private and public, and produce a wide range of commercial print products. It is this diversity which has ensured the survival and success of this £7m turnover and 67-staff company, says Paterson.
The fact that customers across the company’s whole range of industries – not just pubs – demanded shorter turnarounds, then, cemented the case for bringing laminating in-house.
"In our modern day and age, turnarounds need to be next to nothing," says Paterson, explaining that this is particularly the expectation with digital print. And so Stirland Paterson’s acquisition of digital division CRI Digital before Christmas was also a crucial factor motivating investment in the Mini 76 T, he explains.
The move quickly proved to be a very shrewd one, reports Paterson, and has already won the company more work. "It certainly helps us win work when the customer has a choice of perhaps three or four different suppliers, and is under such strict deadlines that it’s basically a choice of who can do the job the fastest," he says. "They need it delivered the next day to 50 or 60 addresses, and now we can say ‘yes, we can do that’ with confidence, whereas in the past we were relying on somebody else. Whenever you’re relying on somebody else things can go wrong."
And bringing laminating in-house means the company, able to keep prices the same, now enjoys a larger profit margin on laminated work. "Although the cost of outsourcing was less of a problem than the longer turnaround times, we were spending around £150,000 a year on outsourcing laminating," says Paterson.
And the company has also saved through no longer having to pay for their own same-day couriers where turnarounds were particularly tight. "Most of the lamination companies who did work for us did do a service where they would include pick-up and delivery of the print in the same price," he says. "But work was coming in that thick and fast that we were having to send out either our own vehicles or same-day couriers. It was probably costing us £15,000 or £20,000 a year in same-day delivery just to keep the clients happy."
Of course, key to the success of introducing laminating to Stirland Paterson’s already extensive finishing department –which includes, among other machines, a Muller Martini Prima saddle stitcher, two Polar guillotines and two Heidelberg SRB2 cylinder – has been the ease of use and reliability of the Mini 76 T.
"It’s dead easy. Anyone with a bit of common sense can get the machine going pretty easily," says Paterson. "It’s easy to set up and it’s easy to change over from matt lamination to gloss lamination."
This enables the company to utilise several different members of staff, explains Paterson. "We’ve got about five people who can operate the machine," he says, explaining that Autobond provided three or four days of training for one staff member who then passed on this know-how. "We’ve trained as many people as possible so we can utilise everyone. Everyone can muck in – it’s great."
Impressively, for a machine that has now been installed for around six months, the Mini 76 T has never been down, reports Paterson. "There’s nothing you can really fault with the laminator," he says. And Paterson feels safe in the knowledge that, if any service issues arose, Autobond would be there quickly.
"Autobond have always been very helpful," he says. "And it helps that they’re only five miles down the road from us – that’s great for both parties," he adds, explaining that this is fortunate not only in view of any potential service issues, but also because managing director of Autobond, John Gilmore, often treats the workers to his legendary home-reared sausages when the laminate Stirland Paterson also buys from Autobond is dropped off.
So the future for the relationship between Stirland Paterson and Autobond looks very bright, particularly as the printer plans to buy a perfecting module for the Mini 76 T from the manufacturer. "If we find that we’re laminating a lot of things both sides then we’ll invest," says Paterson. "That’s one thing we’re looking at already. It would allow us to do double-sided pieces in half the time. All the gubbins is already on the machine. It’s just a case of them coming in and fitting that on."
Paterson does not have a definite timeframe for when he would have this fitted, however. For now he is very happy with the speed with which the laminator processes jobs and the faster turnarounds it allows the company to offer.
"It’s immediate now really," he says. "If a job comes off the press, which is instantaneously dry, that can go straight onto the laminator and straight out of the door to the customer."
Max sheet size 760x1,020mm
Min sheet size A4
Max speed 45m/min
Stock weight range 90-650gsm
Film range 24-75 micron
Price £45,000; perfector unit from £15,000; magnet unit from £5,000
Contact Autobond 01773 530520 autobondlaminating.com
Established in 1996, Stirland Paterson Group now comprises three companies: SP litho, CRI Digital and a design division. Diversity of market sectors and products has always been key to the success of this £7m turnover and 67-staff company, reports managing director John Paterson, with the company today catering for both public and private sector work including retailers, pub chains, and major brands.
Why it was bought...
Stirland Paterson invested in the Autobond Mini 76 T laminator to bring all laminating work in-house. While the company was very happy with the level of service provided by their laminating suppliers, demand for extremely tight turnarounds and the potential savings to be made by bringing this process in-house, spurred the company to invest.
How it has performed...
Paterson reports that the laminator has performed superbly since its installation around six months ago. The company has experienced no downtime with it, he reports, and has been very impressed with the level of service provided by Autobond, whose HQ is just five miles down the road. "There’s nothing you can fault with the laminator, really," says Paterson.