An interview with Ian Strudwick, CEO of Kenads Printers

Ian Strudwick, CEO of Kenads Printers in Worthing, talks about how he started in print, the changes in technology and how adding value to their customer relationships has been core to their business development.

How did you get into print?

I was just 21 and, at the time, my dad was running Kenads Printers together with my stepmother and one other person in the print room. I was just finishing a four-year apprenticeship as a mechanic and had three months of my City & Guilds to complete before I became fully qualified. Not surprisingly, our lives were thrown into disarray when my stepmother eloped with our print worker leaving dad to run the business on his own.

Dad’s background was sales, and I felt duty bound to do my best to pick up the ropes. All we had was a Heidelberg GTO and a Multilith 1250 – so I had to learn the hard way. Most of it was self-taught but my mechanic’s training certainly came in useful. Dad’s friends in print used to pop down after work and give me some extra tuition.

What did you enjoy most?

It was the long hours. I was young, enthusiastic and soaked up everything that was said. I worked all hours to get the jobs done – sometimes until three in the morning. Although, not good for relationships, the satisfaction of starting with nothing and then, at the end of the day, seeing a finished job was very rewarding. You took your time to get it right, it involved a lot of skill and produced great satisfaction and pride.

That’s where Kenads personal service started. We go that extra mile to perfect each job even when customers require a fast turnaround and competitive prices.

How did your wide range of print products develop?

Over the years we have had to diversify as the world of print was continually offering new ideas, papers, inks, formats and finishes. When we first started, items like plates and film were out-sourced to other businesses. Little by little, we increased our knowledge and skills, invested in machinery and offered those services ourselves.

Computers came along and the printing scene started to move quickly. In school, I was in the first year who were taught ‘O’ level computer studies and, came top of the class. In the 6th form, as our teachers knew less than us, I was offered a job teaching years 3 and 4. I could have gone into computing but loved cars and wanted to get my hands dirty and so began my mechanic’s apprenticeship.

What do you think of print technology today?

Over the past ten years it has changed beyond recognition from the days of bromide, film and plates.

We purchased our first digital press around the Millennium. It was an Oki, which printed business cards in colour – a revolution at the time! Digital print is continually evolving and I still love the technology. We have recently invested in a new Ricoh Pro C7100 which we use for short run leaflets, business cards and booklets of 500 copies or less. We can turn these around on the same day if necessary.

The new press also offers a 5th colour, can also print in white (on a black card for example) and print clear. On a brochure, we can add a glossy UV effect, on the cover or, throughout and on selected pages. The digital press will also print on paper weights up to 400 gsm and can print banners 710 mm x 320mm as well as 6-page A4 brochures.

We also have the latest digital poster printer for banners up to 44 inches wide which is larger than A0. An excellent way to reproduce fine art prints, pop-up banners and roller banners.

Are you accredited with any ISO or environmental standards?

We are very aware of environmental issues and operate a carbon reduction strategy. We do as much as we can to help the environment including recycling waste paper, printing plates and ink tins as well as industrial wipes. We use vegetable based inks, our plate-making is now chemical free and we use shredded waste for packaging.

Whenever and wherever possible, we print on either FSC (approved papers from sustainable sources) or recycled papers. As a member of Woodland Carbon our customers have the opportunity to capture the carbon from paper purchases by planting native woodland in the UK.

Just recently we have been awarded ISO 9001:2015 for High-Quality Lithographic and Digital Printing, Design and Marketing.

We are also British Printing Industries Federation members which ensures we keep up with developments in a sector which is constantly evolving.

Do you ever take your foot off the gas?

No, not really – I live and breath it 24 hours a day and, it’s probably not good for my health but, I have a great wife that reminds me regularly to take it easy. I do enjoy holidays much more when I take them.

What makes Kenads Printers different from other printers?

That question is easy and, has to be, going that extra mile. I can say, in all honesty, we have always gone over and above when it comes to offering a personal service and being honest.  I am extremely proud of all of my staff, our ethos and how everyone in the team works together to offer a high-quality end product backed up by good service.

All printers complete on price, but at Kenads Printers, we endeavour to find the right solution at the right price, which is why so many people recommend us. People ask us for advice on the most cost-effective way to design, produce and print their marketing materials. We have an experienced and skilled team whose breadth of knowledge ensures each client receives the very best. We try to work with the customer and adapt to the customer’s needs.

We also include free delivery with all our orders, small and large. Nothing is too much trouble.

How would you describe your typical customers?

In the old days, our typical customer would have been a manufacturing business, particularly for printed manuals but we have diversified to address our customers’ needs which can vary from a single individual to a national company.

Where are your customers based?

We have a considerable number of clients based in and around the Worthing, Brighton and Chichester areas but we have many across other parts of East and West Sussex including the busy industrial centres of Crawley, Gatwick and Horsham. We print and deliver to companies in London as well as the south including Surrey, Hampshire and Kent.

Is it a challenge running a family business?

Yes, more of a challenge than it used to be. Most clients are looking purely at cost comparisons. We need to be highly competitive as well as offer the best service.

What is the most important thing you have learned in your career?

To be honest. I have found that if something can’t be done explain to the customer. Don’t promise something that you can’t fulfil.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

On the print side, I should have gone into e-commerce at the start, but I didn’t initially see the potential. I loved creating websites and technology but, as a family business, we were incredibly busy during that period and there was just no time. The majority of our clients were set in their ways and, it wasn’t until dad retired in 2004, that we began to show more of our work online.

… and looking forward?

Kenads is developing all the time. We now employ ten people, invest in new technology and are always looking to provide more than our competitors.

As printers we offer a vast range of products and the very best service; we can turn around jobs quickly if clients need us to; we can print litho and digital, at superb quality; offer competitive prices and we are the most friendly and honest printers you will find!