From Grange School to Red Bull, Aylesbury entrepreneur expands after Print Lab success
The Rabans Lane-based independent printing firm was set up by the ambitious former Grange School pupil with the aim of taking on the industry big guns.
Ian has seen Print Lab grow from providing uniforms to local schools to having its own schoolwear arm and becoming the go-to place for everything from work wear to business cards and flyers.
As a result he recently moved from his original unit on Rabans Lane to another much larger base on the industrial park with two floors to cater for the ever expanding operation.
The most popular part of his production line, though, is undoubtedly work wear with Print Lab even doing jobs for the likes of energy drink giant Red Bull.
“We do work wear for local traders and business all the way to larger companies like West Cornish Pasty Company, Cosine and Red Bull to name a few,” Ian said.
“Work wear is the foundation of our business and what we do. We are also very busy with signs and paper products such as flyers, business cards, posters etc.
“Since we started five years ago in half a garage we have moved three times. We have been in a unit at space business centre then moved to unit 16 and 17 Edison Road which was about 1,100 square feet. Now we have now moved down the road to 56 Edison Road to a unit that has 3,500 square feet.
“We really needed the space as it was becoming increasingly hard to organise in a space that we had outgrown. This unit is ideal as we have a reception area, separate production area, upstairs showroom and offices. It was a bit of jump in size and cost but after looking at our options it was the only choice if we wanted to expand and grow.”
Growing a business in this tough economic climate is something of a success story and Ian acknowledges it would not have been possible without hard graft and the backing of the people of his hometown.
“Moving offices means we have the space to grow our client base,” Ian added.
“We can add new services by buying new machines and bringing all services in house under one roof. We currently have eight embroidery heads which is the largest in the area and enables us to cope with large runs. But these machines take up a lot of space too so the move was a must.”
Print Lab also runs print and cut services which are ideal for garment printing, signage, banners and window displays but Ian says his focus is still very much on the local community in Aylesbury, a trait he feels sets his firm apart in the industry.
He said: “I think it’s the local service, home deliveries, the chance for the customer to come in and feel the products as well as try them on. The fact we work hard to offer great pricing without dropping quality. But first and foremost I hope they get a helpful and friendly customer service experience.
“This is the main objective for us, to make the process easy and allow people to access the products they need in a fast and professional manner. We have customers who have bought garments online and haven’t been happy with the fit or quality but they know if they come to us they will have the chance to try the garment first.
“I honestly believe without local business and the community it would have been impossible for us to succeed. We value every customer that comes to us as it has been their loyalty that has helped us to grow. We try and support local clubs and community projects by giving them orders with big discounts or completely free to help out in any way we can. We support local PTA with prizes or free uniform to help them raise money for their school. It goes hand in hand, they trust us with their custom and we want to show them that this is appreciated.
“I would like to say a huge thank you to all customers, parents, schools, businesses and staff who have supported The Print Lab and PL Schoolwear over the last five years. It is really appreciated.”
Ian hopes is own success story can inspire budding young entrepreneurs in Aylesbury too.
He added: “My advice would be to build a solid foundation, financially and customer base. It takes a huge amount of the risk away when you know what you have to earn each month and how you will do that. Then get out there and talk to people about you and your business. Word of mouth will spread and fingers crossed your business will start to grow.”
And it hasn’t all been plain sailing either, Ian admits you learn more by your mistakes than anything else.
“I have made lots of mistakes in the first five years which have cost us money and time but I have tried to learn from them all and kept to the belief that if you look after staff and customers then it will all come together.”