ImagesMagUK_June_2024 JUNE2024images 33 IS DECORATOR PROFILE packaging and water-based inks. From builders and other sole traders to sports clubs through to companies large and small, Printigo has a broad customer base, mostly within about 10 miles. Some regular customers are served by web shops such as schools and colleges for leavers’ hoodies. “We do ones and twos but we can do 1,000 or 2,000 items,” Brian says. “We can outsource for anything bigger, but we like to keep control.” Investment plans With plans to seek larger orders, Printigo is investing in new machinery. Its embroidery set-up, overseen by Tammie Pearson, has just added a second six-head Tajima, supplied by AJS and using Wilcom digitising software, while the two original Brother singleheads are still in working order, albeit kept out of the way in a purpose-built cupboard to minimise noise disruption. Brian hopes to invest in more new machines, including an eight-head Tajima. “We’re looking to get more crammed into here, but we are also looking for another production facility within the next two years where we can do larger orders while continuing to do smaller orders here.” A new automated order tracking system is already being developed, customised to the company’s needs. Printigo was an early adopter of direct-to-film (DTF) technology, investing in a Resolute R-Jet Pro DTF, using DuPont inks, over two years ago. “It has been a game-changer in terms of man hours,” Brian says. “We can get full vibrant colours and gradients and produce 100m of print an hour. Without it, we would be struggling, we wouldn’t be where we are.” He now hopes to invest in newer DTF systems, which can print even more quickly, alongside adding to the company’s line-up of heat presses. As an early adopter, Brian gave direct-to-garment (DTG) a try 12 years ago. “We were one of the first – it was an absolute disaster. The model did not print consistently and the quality was not up to our standards. I gave the whole thing to the scrap man. Nowadays, the technology is better but DTF is fantastic. We love it.” He adds that there is still a place for vinyl at Printigo, sourced from Grafityp, although it now accounts for less than 10% of work. “It’s hardwearing and you’ve got the colours and reflective effects,” he adds. While most of Printigo’s work is in garment decoration, it continues to offer paper print and large-format printing such as banners, posters and stickers. It still uses a Roland VersaCamm printer/ cutter (nicknamed ‘Little Steve’) bought 15 years ago but has since added a large-format Roland TrueVis VG-640 printer/cutter (inevitably dubbed ‘Big Steve’). Other print services range from mugs, coasters and water bottles to business cards and orders of service. “We see paper printing and largeformat printing as a natural ally of what we do and we do it well. We want to be able to offer add-ons like mugs or quality business cards. We have great designers here so we can say to customers, ‘Why not use them to create some flyers?’” Talented people Building the business over the past 15 years has not been without challenges, including most recently increases in the cost of doing business. Coming out of a fixed rate on electricity, Printigo has seen its monthly bill shoot up from £1,000 to £1,800, while its business rates nearly doubled last year although the annual increase is capped at 25% through transitional relief. However, Brian says the company has benefited from good relationships with its garment suppliers. “We are very fortunate that we get very good rates from them.” While recruitment of skilled, motivated staff has been another challenge, Brian says Printigo is thriving from finding “experienced and talented people who have a creative side”. Some employees have been with the business for some time such as graphic designer Matt Draycott, who joined 11 years ago, and Matt Evans, who has been at Printigo since the start and was appointed as managing director two years ago. Aside from incentives such as a good pension scheme, Brian says Printigo is committed to going beyond minimum wage to pay above the London Living Wage which is £13.15 per hour. “We want to say to our staff that we value you and not just pay them what we can get away with.” With growth plans focused on workwear, Brian says there is enough potential business within the Midlands. “We’re still a small business, but we have ambition. We’ve been through the learning curve and the setbacks and have the finances and equipment in place. I’m now looking to take the business to the next level.” Hard at work on the Adkins Omega heat press from Xpres The company was an early adopter of DTF printing Printigo’s showroom, which includes a fitting room In spite of DTF, there is still a place for vinyl from Grafityp The original six-head Tajima embroidery machine from AJS