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Venture Banners

Upon returning to The Print Show 2019, Genevieve Lewis talks to Scott Conway, sales and marketing director at Venture Banners on its ten-year journey and plans for the show this year

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Scott Conway is one of the founders of Venture Banners, alongside Wayne Bodimeade

In the face of adversity

Venture Banners began its life in amidst the turmoil of the financial crisis that shook the entire globe in 2008 – a fact that founders Scott Conway and Wayne Bodimeade declare ‘interesting’ when opening the company in 2009.

However, despite what seems like a strange time to set up a business, it has been an obvious success with the company now boasting a 21,000sq ft premises with three floors in Braintree, Essex and a team of 40 people. The savvy pair of Conway and Bodimeade have managed this in just ten years – and do not planning on slowing down.

 

Venture Banners now has a team of 40 people

Even the production facility has been thoughtfully designed with a humidity-controlled floor for textile printing, and on top of that (literally on top) there are 176 two-metre solar panels fitted to the roof to generate its own electricity. Conway and Bodimeade are savvy and eco-friendly, then – a great way to be when supplying their customers, counting themselves and their business as a true trade only supplier, working away in the background. 


We at Venture Banners have always looked at ways we can apply our economies of scale to parts of the large-format market that enable our customers to increase their product offerings

“We at Venture Banners have always looked at ways we can apply our economies of scale to parts of the large-format market that enable our customers to increase their product offerings, and in turn their revenue streams,” says Conway.

“There is no downside to this business model – our customers can offer a complex array of large-format and exhibition products without huge investment but with plenty of margin. We work on large volumes of these products but with small margins and this works well for us.”

Continuing with the theme of thriving in the face of adversity, Venture Banners and its owners decided to go on a sort of learning journey – this took them 18 months but resulted in key knowledge that can only benefit its customers. Conway explains: “With textile and soft signage becoming more and more popular in this country over the last couple of years, we decided we wanted to offer our customers our considerable economies of scale in this sector as well. So, at the beginning of 2017, we embarked on an 18-month capital expense exercise that turned
out to be the steepest learning curve we had ever faced in our ten-year history.”

He continues: “We’ve learned about the advantages and disadvantages of inline ink fixation, how humidity – or in this case, a lack of humidity – can have a disastrous effect on your ability to print literally anything. We learned about different materials, their different applications and then we had to learn their individual stretch and shrinkage properties.”

Not only did the team learn important information to help their business, but this also then turned to research and how to improve operations. “We vigorously researched the various different types of sewing machines available that do vastly different jobs,” says Conway. “Single needle, twin needle, overlock – there was a lot to take in. And I don’t care what anyone says – people who can sew properly are few and far between. Finding someone who can join two pieces of material together without it looking like Eeyore’s bottom has turned out to be a huge challenge for us.”


Sewing has been a dying art in this country over the last few decades and as textiles become more prominent in our product line-up, it has become clear we need to act to bring in more young people to train

Leaving Winnie the Pooh and its characters aside, Conway recognises that this skill is sadly petering out, but it leaves the opportunity to train young people – giving them a valuable skill and brining them into the print and sign industries. “Sewing has been a dying art in this country over the last few decades and as textiles become more prominent in our product line-up, it has become clear we need to act to bring in more young people to train in this skill set,” states Conway.

Maintaining the Disney theme – Conway uses Disneyland in Florida as a way to describe what a humidification system is like, one other area  that Venture has invested in: “So, our kit list has expanded considerably to include seven sewing machines of various types, a production-wide humidification system, and if you’ve ever been to Disney in Florida, think of those fine mist sprays you get around the park.

The 21,000sq ft building boasts 176 two-metre solar powers to generate electricity
 

“We’ve bought an MTEX 5032HS 3.2m high-speed dye-sub machine with inline fixation for our flag production, as well as an EFi FabriVU 340 3.2m machine and a separate Klieverik calendar unit for backlit, display and stretch materials – which incidentally, gives the best print quality I’ve ever seen on a large-format machine – as well as a 3.2m-wide Zünd with a textile cutting system to make sure that after we’ve printed all this stretchy stuff, it gets cut out accurately.”

With a clear concentration on quality and making sure its customers are truly happy with the service, Venture Banners has continued to expand, grow and invest – not only in technology but also in the next generation to hopefully maintain a dying art. With all this going on, you may wonder how does the team have time to head to the NEC in Birmingham for The Print Show this September? Conway concludes: “We are retuning to The Print Show this year – showcasing our textile range as well as our traditional product line-up. We always have a great show, and myself and Wayne will be manning the stand so it will also be good to catch with some old customers as well as meeting some new ones.”


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