Like many of us across the industry, Appeal Media has felt the impact of 2020's COVID-19 pandemic. Every graphics business has had to adapt to survive the trying trading conditions, but Appeal Media - founded by lifelong friends Stephen Matthews and Scott McCabe in 2008 - appears to have thrived. The secret seems to be all about the attitude: always say 'yes'.
Say 'yes' first
Falkirk-based Appeal Media started as a paper business and evolved in direct response to market needs. Scott explains: "Customers would come in and ask if we could print this, can it be a little bit bigger, can you print me a poster, a window vinyl, so on and so forth. People continually asked us to add more products to our gamut, so that's exactly what we did."
As demand for larger format work grew, so did Appeal Media's equipment: "We got into large format in around 2010, because at that point we realised we had an opportunity within the automotive trade, producing vehicle livery. In 2020 we grew again with a Ricoh Pro TF6250 UV flatbed bought specifically for a new business, Aroc Compliance, launched to service the construction sector. We were already well connected there and were frequently asked for site signage, flat panels, and other graphics."
Aroc Compliance was founded in 2019 by Scott and Steve, along with Cora Zonfrillo and Duncan Lowry, and is another example of responding to opportunities that came along.
Scott comments: "We have an attitude of always saying 'yes' and working out how to do so afterwards!"
However, not all opportunities present themselves; sometimes businesses have to find them. In late March 2020, Appeal Media and its sister company Aroc Compliance reacted quickly to COVID-19 and its restrictions with a new application and a new campaign to promote it: sanitiser stations that combined visual instructions and stickers, printed on the Pro TF6250, along with a hand sanitiser dispenser. In just a few months over 300 schools and the whole of Glasgow City Council were engaged in the project.
"The school opportunity opened up for us by thinking outside the box, being creative and looking at what we could do," says Scott.
Scott also advises on planning ahead to maximise productivity and efficiency. Appeal Media and Aroc Compliance moved to new premises to accommodate the new Ricoh Pro TF6250, not simply the machine itself but an end-to-end free-flowing workflow with the flatbed printer at the centre.
Embrace technology and show what you can do
As the owner of a company which evolved from a different market, Scott is aware of misgivings around investing in new kit: "People can be scared of technology but there's no reason to be. These things aren't designed to confuse, they're designed to aid."
He explains that the ease and speed of printing jobs on the new direct-to-substrate technology of the Ricoh Pro TF6250 has significantly improved turnaround times - 'productivity has gone through the roof', he comments - but being able to wow customers is as important. He gives the example of a set of signs for a cleaning company designed to make people aware the floor is wet.
We created the 4' x 4' aluminium panels and printed spot UV on the 'wet' part in the design. Without saying it's a wet floor, the design tells you it's a wet floor. It's all about getting creative and showing your clients what you can do. We have a lot of customers who don't really know what they want but they know they want something different, so using technology that lets your creativity flow can make a really positive impact on your business."
Appeal Media and Aroc Compliance are set to continue to survive and thrive into 2021, thanks to Scott and Stephen's approach of embracing large format technology and the opportunities it can create.
You can view the interview from which some of the above quotes were taken below: