In this INKISH film COO Jon Bailey from ‘Precision Proco Group’ talks about how the group was founded literally moments before the total lockdown last year. The advantages of working together and create a printing group with similar values and value propositions being the foundation for future growth. This is an exciting story, so see it before your neighbour.

Precision Proco Group was formed late last year during the pandemic. But it’s been a long time in the making. My business was Proco. That was twenty-seven years old. Focusing on dynamic data, in general commercial print. But I’ve worked strategically alongside Gary Peeling at Precision Printing for many years as well. And a few years ago, and over a few beers, like many of the best ideas, we kept coming up with the idea that we really should do something together. And our businesses were incredibly aligned. We have gone our different routes with regards to customers, in regard to technology. But actually, from a cultural perspective, which I think is the most important thing in a business to align. The cultural business with very, very aligned. Our technologies were very, very similar. We have both worked in the advisory councils for HP. And so, our businesses were very aligned. But we were going in different routes. And so, we kept talking about it and talking about it. And a few years ago, we decided to stop talking and actually see if it made sense. We got together, looked at our businesses. And on every level, bringing our businesses together just made perfect sense. And it made perfect sense for a few reasons. One for our staff and our teams. To give us stability and sustainability and growth. But also, from a customer perspective and industry perspective. The alignment of bringing them together just made complete sense. So, we then also engaged Jon Tolley – Prime. And also, our friend’s e-commerce business in Newcastle – Climb. And we brought all of them together to create Precision Proco Group. And it’s really about looking at different foundations of the industry. And really being able to live in the new world and thrive in the new world. We believe the market was shifting quite rapidly. Corporate customers are becoming consumers. So, the whole consumer corporate model is merging together. And if you combine all of our different expertise, we end up with a real key skill set in mass customized. We have now a really strong upload and print function. And also we can work in the corporate DM and data world as well. So, it was about covering all bases. 

Was there a lot of emotions going through your mind when you decided to merge just before the lockdown? 

I think there’s a whole world of emotions that went on in all of our minds. And I can’t speak for the other two specifically. But all I know is this the pandemic was an incredible learning experience, a very humbling experience. We announced to the staff about the leadership team, about the merger. Literally one week before we went into lockdown. We then… The panic set in and everybody froze. As you know, with the initial lockdown. And we had a really serious decision to make at that point. Do we do what we set out to do and really become stronger together? Or do we go back to what we know, hunker down and get through it and then revisit it? And we and we just thought, no, we’ve come too far. And if we’re going to do it, we’re doing it for the right reasons. And even though we haven’t signed the legal paperwork to officially become one company, we committed to the cause at that point there and we worked together to get through it. 

How important is HP as a part of your business objectives? 

Well, we’ve worked with HP personally now for nearly 20 years. And they’ve been a strategic partner to our business since day one. And they’ve also strangely been a strategic partner to my new colleagues and our group businesses over the similar period. And one of the main reasons is not only do they innovate. But the key point is they continue to innovate. And they continue to grow. And they continue to add value. So, they don’t just provide technology. They provide insight and forward thinking into the industry. And if you want to stay ahead of the game in what we do, as we’ve touched on about the group and about all that stuff, you have to be working with partners who are thinking ahead as well. You can’t just wait for it to happen. It’s interesting how long we’ve worked with those guys. And how important they are to us. Now I haven’t even been involved. But like I say: Look across the group and everyone’s been saying. It tells a big picture, really. 

So, they understand that this is not just a box moving business? 

Yeah, a hundred percent. I mean, if it’s just purely box…then anyone can do that, right? So, you have to be able to put the box in and you have to be able to support it and grow it. And the business support tools, and we talk about Dscoop in a bit. But now that kind of innovation surrounding the actual technology is what makes the real difference. And what separates them from the other people. You know, our reviews and our relationship with our account management at all levels. So, the operator engagement, the senior management engagement, the business ownership engagement. It’s across all levels. And I think that’s what then makes it a really strategic partnership. And you’re right is you carry on. And the investments are big. So, if you’re making these kind of investments and our margins are squeezed, so you have to get to repay your machines quicker than you can. So it’s all about making them sweat. And sweat in the assets. Working with a strategic partner that can help you do that and help you continue to add value to your technology suite whilst at the same time helping you grow your business is really critical. 

What can you tell us about Dscoop and your involvement with the organisation? 

Dscoop, is an amazing organisation. It’s an amazing organisation. Because it’s made by the members for the members. So, it’s completely independent. But it’s basically a lot of people who love HP’s graphic arts technology and what it can do for their business. So, it’s grown and grown over the years. I’m now being coming global chair, which I’m humbled and privileged to be offered that role. I’ve been involved with Dscoop for over 10 years now. And I still absolutely love what it stands for and what it does. You know, it’s an incredible asset. And for printing companies who own HP technology, it is the best asset that they can have. It’s a complete learning environment. And if you imagine going to an event where you are surrounded by like-minded people. All of which are there to learn and to open and to share. And then you add to that our partners who are there to educate and to share what they do. And you have HP is our main sponsor to come in and show the latest technology. So you get access to things that you wouldn’t get access to before. And this is just a three- or four-day event where you are surrounded by people who are all focused on growing the industry. And growing their business. And you get some amazing opportunities to meet people. Some amazing nuggets of information. You always come back with two or three golden bullets that would just really change your business. And more importantly than that, what it does for business owners and for businesses. Which in an industry that’s tough, that’s fast moving, that’s changing, it’s fun. And you come back reinvigorated, full of energy. That you can then take your business to the next level. And you realize you’re not alone. I mean, it’s never been so important as in the last 18 months with the pandemic. And the calls I’ve had with the other members throughout. It has literally been a lifeline for us as a business. And for them. And being able to talk about the problems and share the fact we were shut and open, and the volumes and to discuss how people are getting through it. Genuinely has been a lifeline in this last 18 months.