Originally featured in the August edition of ProPrint magazine.
20 years in print, a time to celebrate and reflect. We talk with Andrew Cester, Managing Director of Whirlwind Print, about how the last two decades in print has brought the business to where it is today.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone who visited Drupa is missing the snitzels, kransky and steins, after such an amazing trade fair this year. I’ve returned from the fair inspired by so many great print innovations on the horizon. It can be easy to lose sight of how exciting the print business is when you’re busy with general operations, so it’s great to experience Drupa first hand and see the fair breathe new life into the industry. I’m already looking forward to 2020 when they do it all over again.” Says Cester.
Drupa has also given him renewed confidence that the company is doing a lot right at Whirlwind. Rather than focusing on the somewhat isolated nature of operating down under, he is looking to the future needs of their clients. “With our distance from the US & European markets, you can be forgiven for thinking Australian printers may not have the latest and greatest tech. I assure you the machines we’ve got on the floor are at the leading edge internationally, but above and beyond that it’s how we use our tools that put us head and shoulders above the rest in our local market.”
Cester strongly believes that if you did business with them five years ago, you’d almost not recognise the Whirlwind of today. They’re a leaner, smoother, more agile version of themselves.
“Our operations are leaner as we’ve committed ourselves to an ongoing, bottom up reorganisation of the business. This process has touched everything from optimising the layout of our factory floor for maximum efficiencies to how we manage jobs from quote/order, through pre press to print ready, finishing and finally dispatch. Our customers are already seeing the benefit of our streamlined operations with 99% of jobs dispatched accurately and on time.
“Our investment in the software driving our operations has completely smoothed out any bumps associated with being an early adaptor and now we have the benefit of years of development. Every component of our software is tailored to the unique needs of our customers and Whirlwind operations. Our commitment to deliver the best possible solutions to our customers means that not only do our operations need to be flexible, we’re helping our clients become more agile players in the market too. The introduction of our web-to-print software w3p allows our clients to tap into the online market, or to meet the needs of their clients who require online print portals.”
Cester’s passion for print and the company is clearly visible. That passion has been bubbling for 20 years at Whirlwind, in fact it’s their 20th anniversary this year. “We take great pride in this significant milestone, it’s testament of being agile & ever evolving; a necessity in the print landscape now and in the future” Cester adds.
“Fast-forward to 2016 and we’ve got the best technology available, we’ve clocked over 1,000,000 jobs and we’re powering through thousands of jobs per week.”
Speaking of evolution, they’ve come a long way in the past 20 years. In 1996 Whirlwind was formed as a design agency, and as any printer knows, design clients have high expectations! “We were no different and it was our frustration with the quality of print available at the time that drove us to first produce our own print with the purchase of a Heidelberg CD74 5 colour machine. Word got out and within two short years our print work overtook our design work and we decided to solely focus on trade printing. Fast-forward to 2016 and we’ve got the best technology available, we’ve clocked over 1,000,000 jobs and we’re powering through thousands of jobs per week. That really puts the 99% accuracy into perspective – it’s no small feat!”
Behind the scenes the Whirlwind team of over 140 people stretches across Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. At the forefront is the Account Management team, who directly support their customers every day. “This is a major point of difference, with no other trade printer offering such a comprehensive account management service. Our account managers are backed up by our Estimating, PrePress and Production teams, who ensure the work flows smoothly from quotation, print ready artwork to dispatch. Our team is so important when it comes to delivering exceptional customer service, and our success can be attributed to investing in our staff. Happy employees equals happy customers and we see a direct commercial benefit. Fresh fruit daily, filtered water, onsite gym, a new recreation room on the cards, training opportunities both onsite (with a company wide Cert 4 initiative) and offsite activities. Not to mention the coffee machines, or the coffee van that’s here every day – we know what’s important! A physically & mentally healthy workplace and people creates the optimum platform to deliver world-class service.”
“To understand how to better service our customers, we love it when we’re invited to visit, to see where they work and how their business functions. We often reciprocate with tours of our production facility, it’s the best way to demonstrate how jobs flow through & visually highlights what we can deliver: A warehouse full of indented stocks (providing cost efficiencies on even premium stock choices). Our imposition room churning out plates – showcasing our world-class print optimization, which saves clients time and money. And our lean manufacturing principles at every machine point across the floor, from the HUV 8 colour to the stitching lines, ensuring our stringent quality control and swift TATs are adhered to.”
The buzz on the floor, the hum of the machines and the methodical approach of staff as they work embodies what Whirlwind is all about. “To maintain our service levels – from our customer connections to our print deliveries, we’re always investigating what new opportunities lie ahead. We talk to our customers, analyse job data through our MIS and attend industry events and trade shows such as Drupa (the highlight of 2016 to date). “Drupa provided some much needed invigoration to the industry and provided some great insights as to what the future holds for printers in Australia,” says Cester. “We’re investigating new machinery from print to finishing, anticipating the needs of the local market and determining where our next point of growth and competitiveness should lie.”
Whirlwind is currently measuring the company performance through their biannual customer survey, which will identify any areas where they may better serve their customers.
New hires: Operations Manager Peter Milburn, who brings to the business extensive management and print experience.
Promotions: Preprint Operations Manager Melanie Wallace, who has considerable experience in PrePrint and has been an asset to Whirlwind for over 10 years. The 10-colour Komori Lithrone  Managing director Andrew Cester  Promoted: Preprint operations manager Melanie Wallace  Sales director Gis Marven advising the sales team