This month we thought you might like to hear from one of the founding directors, Ian Briggs, who set up Croft Printing over 30 years ago alongside his wife Marilyn.
Having established the company from a start-up, as you can imagine Ian is a very hands on Managing Director. He is always itching to get back in the thick of things and simply can’t resist a shift on the factory floor whenever an extra pair of hands is required.
Describe a typical day?
Oh blimey, if only there was a typical day. The last few months have been very tricky and each day has been different as we responded to the needs of our customers who, in turn, were battling to meet surges in demand for essential products.
Like most businesses, we’ve faced the issues caused by COVID-19 and we were incredibly busy to start off with and therefore did not need to furlough any staff. Fortunately, we now seem to have settled into a more regular pattern of work so I am back to managing operations.
What are your main responsibilities?
I am a very versatile Managing Director because over the last thirty years there isn’t really a role I have not carried out or a machine I have not operated. Mostly, my main role involves ensuring the company operates efficiently and meets customer needs. This includes helping staff deal with technical queries on orders and managing relations with key suppliers.
What do you like best working at Croft?
Knowing we satisfy our customers’ needs and deliver high quality self-adhesive labelling solutions is my main motivation. We have a great team who I know I can rely on and trust. We are like one big family.
What has changed
The printing process has not really changed much recently, albeit slight technical improvements have made it easier for us to provide more creative and cost effective self adhesive labelling solutions, not much has changed from a production point of view.
In my humble opinion, the biggest change has been in the buying process. Work won through word of mouth recommendation has been replaced by the need to be on approved supplier lists and communication replaced by emails rather than face to face to telephone conversations. The work involved processing an order has become a lot more technical and the overall pace of business is much faster and deadline driven.
Whilst we still have a very loyal client base, I think the impact of the necessity to be on a preferred supplier list and use buyer portals can be restrictive both for us and the customer.
Buyers tell us they sometimes find it very frustrating and time consuming to complete their internal paperwork processes in order for them to get authorisation to buy from us. I share this frustration because as a BRC Certified company we have had to prove to independent regulators that our business has the required compliance processes in place and I think this certification should be recognised more.
These bureaucratic scenario’s can sometimes be quite annoying, particularly when both the buyer and ourselves know we have a solution they want and need that also saves time, reduces recycling waste and helps companies avoid penalties for not having stock on shelves. However, we have to accept this is how current day business has to be conducted.
What do you enjoying doing out of work?
My wife, children and grandsons are my life and I simply love being with them. I hated lockdown as Marilyn and I, like everyone else, were not able to see family and our young grandsons. We live in the country and are fortunate to have a nice big back garden so now we are all part of a family bubble, we play lots of games and enjoy outdoor eating together – subject, of course, to the English weather, but we have wellies, umbrella’s and a gazebo!