This article by Patrick Howard appeared on the Print 21 website in October, 2017
Source: Print 21 www.print21.com.au
The iconic Melbourne trade printer blew into town this week taking over the bespoke print business of Lindsay Yates while keeping principals Paul Richardson and David Shoppee on deck for at least four years.
Andrew Cester, managing director, and his sales director, Gis Marven, hosted their new customers and staff at the Art Gallery of NSW on Monday night, consummating a prolonged courtship between two very different printing businesses. Declaring it a Marriage Made in Print, the union is one of the most strategic deals between printers in recent memory.
Whirlwind is known nationally as a leading trade printer, recognised for its fast turnaround delivery, expertise in gang printing and willingness to invest in the latest technology. Ambitious to expand its footprint, the Melbourne-based printer has been looking for a Sydney beachhead for some time.
Lindsay Yates on the other hand is a printer that prides itself on craft origins and a traditional approach to the market. Richardson and Shoppee have owned it for the past nine years, with former owner Ian Lindsay still occupying a small office at the lower North Shore factory.
Despite stepping up to a HP Indigo from Currie Group in 2015, the business was in need of strategic direction and investment, a classic case of ‘get bigger or get out.’ Reluctant to invest to the extent required the two owners began looking around for likely partners. They admit a number of suitors were vying of the respected brand. The protracted negotiations became one of the worst kept secrets of the industry.
For Whirlwind the consummation provides a gold-plated entrée to the larger Sydney market. A customer list that includes almost all of the lucrative high-end real estate business in the city is enhanced with a number of marketing and advertising agencies.
For Lindsay Yates the marriage is likely to spark further investment with insiders hinting at the possibility of a new 10-colour perfector to match the Melbourne business. Originally a Heidelberg house, Whirlwind has turned to Komori HD UV for its recent investments, while the Sydney business has retained loyalty to Heidelberg. Both brands were represented at the Art Gallery nuptials: David Gunn for Print & Pack, the Komori agent, and Savas Mystakidis, northern region manager for Heidelberg.
Richardson told me he believes the Lindsay Yates name will continue indefinitely while others on the night were not so confident. He’s taking on the role of NSW state manager, while Shoppee is in charge of operations; the two former principals will participate in daily 10-minute management meetings via video, apparently at 10.33 precisely. He professes to be very pleased with the outcome but it’ll be a major change for the two of them after running their own race for so long.
There’s little doubt that Andrew Cester sees ownership of the Sydney business as a stepping stone for further expansion up the East Coast. Initially he’s looking at pushing Whirlwind work through the existing equipment, but more investment will transform the business.
The ‘for trade’ sector is hugely competitive with Whirlwind perhaps the last of the first rank players to retain a single production site. CMYKhub is in almost every state while Hero has both Sydney and Perth. LEP is in Brisbane and Melbourne. The arrival of Whirlwind in Sydney gives it an advantage in terms of delivery times. It has always operated a sales office in the city but its energetic owners will now be looking for more.