Springfield Solutions is celebrating 40 years this year. Where did it all start?
I started my career as an apprentice printer working at Metal Box on Southcoates Lane, Hull and then moved to City Engraving as a printer and proofer. After 15 years of that I decided to set up on my own. I bought a proofing press and established a small proofing and plate-making operation on Springfield Way in Anlaby. That’s where the company took its name from, and it’s about the only thing that hasn’t changed in the last 40 years.
You provide far more than just proofing and plate making today, what other services have you developed over the years?
The business grew quickly and within a couple of years we had some major, national accounts. We were relying on suppliers to create the films and plates we were proofing. I thought this was an inefficient way of working so decided to launch my own film-making operation.
There’s a funny story behind that actually. We had moved to Wright Street by that point and we didn’t have room to set the operation up there, so I cut a hole in my ceiling at home so I could fit a flat-bed camera, film processor and planning bench in the loft and that’s where it started from.
How did your family react to that?
My wife wasn’t too impressed with it but at the time there were clear divisions between reprographics, proofing and printing which meant clients didn’t always get the most efficient service. By launching the film-making division we were able to bring those efficiencies to the industry. Looking back it was an important step for Springfield Solutions because it was the beginning of our reprographics division, which evolved into our brand management division which works with some of the world’s largest PLCs. So you could say it worked out in the end!
You’re known for digital printing, can you tell us a bit about that?
We were one of the first printers to invest in digital and bought our first press in 1996. Springfield shares its birth year with both Microsoft and Apple and it was obvious by 1990s that we were on the cusp of the digital age. We wanted to be ahead of the game from that point of view. Those first digital printers were OK but not brilliant, but we knew the technology would improve so we persevered and that has paid off very well.
What advantages do digital printers have over analogue?
The efficiencies they provide are the major advantage. There is no need to make plates or set up the presses, which saves time and cost. All design work is stored on a computer so a print run can be set in motion with the click of a mouse. It is a far cry from when I started in the industry.
Also, digital is great for doing short and medium length print runs which helps clients with stock management and more accurately assessing how many labels they will need. We went fully digital in 2012 and we would not be able to complete the work we do today if we hadn’t have done that.
Looking back what is your proudest achievement over the past 40 years?
That’s difficult to answer as there have been so many great moments, but if I had to pick one thing it is that Springfield Solutions has always been a pioneer, from developing the first six-colour printing processes up to the present day with our print-to-mobile app SmartPicture.
Now with our team of my son Matt and Dennis Ebeltoft as joint Managing Directors, and Vice Chairman Steve Forster, that is set to continue.
How does the next 40 years look for Springfield Solutions?
I think we are in good hands. We continue to invest in the best quality equipment on the market and our print and brand management services continue to become more sophisticated in line with advancements in digital technology.
If we bring on the right talent in future years there’s no reason Springfield won’t celebrate 80 years in style.