Singapore Slinging

A few months back we were sifting through our enquiries we get through the website, and we came across an intriguing email. It read…

“Good afternoon from the UK. I am writing because I have a request. I work for a company called FESPA, we are a federation of associations in the Screen and Digital print industries. We also arrange events and exhibitions for the industry. In October this year we have an exhibition in Singapore (FESPA Asia Having identified your company as being the leader in online screen printing in Australia, I would very much like to have a conversation about the potential of your CEO/Managing Director being able to present to other screen printers in the Asia Pacific Region at our event. I look forward to hearing from you.”

Now…we do get all kinds of spammers through the website, so initially I put this down to some sort of Nigerian scam, but it certainly stroked the ego a bit so I had to check it out.

Low and behold it turned out to be legit!

I thought, “What an awesome opportunity!” and was stoked on the idea. But as the show gradually got closer, anticipation gradually turned to flat out fear. I hadn’t spoken in front of people since school, and that was 20 years ago.

I hurriedly prepared my slides for my presentation titled, “The 8 Key Secrets to Growing Your Screen Printing Business Online”, and while getting the “keys” down I started thinking, “I’m going there to give give people these keys, and we haven’t even mastered them yet”

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a bit of a perfectionist and I don’t like to start or do something until the process is perfect. This was a real challenge for me, I was going there to share this stuff I “knew”, but also knew that we weren’t as good at it as we could be. I felt a little hypocritical I guess.

But I pushed on and the day came to jump on the plane to Singapore.

Once I arrived at the show, I met everyone and then nervously awaited my turn to present. I had a 45 min slot and was a little worried about filling the time.

Then it was my turn…eek!

The MC was very generous with his introduction making it sound like I had accomplished a lot more than I thought I actually had, (as you can probably tell I’m not that comfortable with being talked up!), and as I approached the stage my heart felt like it was going to jump out of my chest! I got up there looked, around the room and blurted out some Aussie greeting that I don’t remember but was probably something like “Hey, How ya’ doin’?”

Through a shaky voice I started talking…and the rest was a bit of a blur. After the initial minute or so, I really started feeling more comfortable and by the end was really amped. I actually said to my wife later on, “I think I could actually do more of this.”

After the presentation I got the opportunity to sit on a Q&A panel with a couple of other business leaders, which was great too. It was cool to see that what I had spoken about raised the interest of the attendees and generated a bunch of questions, which also gave me the privilege of being able to share everything I had learned over the years.

Making new friends and catching up with old ones…

The other great aspect of attending one of these shows is the friendships you develop with other people doing great things in the industry. We had the privilege of sitting down a couple of times with Mark Gervais who runs the print department in  China’s largest vertically integrated garment manufacturer Shenzou International. Vertically integrated means that they do everything from start to finish, knit the fabric, dye the fabric, cut the fabric…I think you can see where I am going here. They do this for companies like Nike, Adidas, Puma – all the big guys.

The company has 48,000 staff and Mark has 2,000 staff in the print department with 54 automatic printing presses. That sounds like a big job!

Something he said to me was interesting though, He said “Look in reality, you and I, we are doing the same thing. We are taking a design, separating the artwork, shooting some screens and printing some t-shirts. We both face the same problems and issues, ours are just scaled up.”

I guess that was him explaining what he does humbly, but it really made a point with me. At the end of the day we are both performing the same actions for the same end result – Making our customers happy!

We also got to sit down and discuss what they are working on and also how we can implement structured research and development time, into our procedures, to keep in front of the game here in Australia.

Someone who also reinforced this concept with us was Charlie Taublieb. Charlie is the industry’s leading print consultant. We had the privilege of spending an evening with him talking shop and trying to figure out how we can get him out here to work with us.

One thing we learned from him was that we should be working on developing our skills on producing specialty printing and finishes. A lot of printers are scared of them but when you can grasp the basics its not actually that difficult.

So we have implemented weekly R&D time to start testing and measuring everything we are doing and working on. This will continue to put us ahead of the pack, and help us achieve our goal of being the premier t-shirt printer in the country.

What would you like?

With all that said…what specialty finishes are you looking for? Are you trying to achieve a certain result that you haven’t been able to?

Let us know and we’ll do everything we can to make it happen for you.