UK-based creasing technology specialist Tech-ni-Fold has revealed that it was able to expand into a range of new markets during the nationwide lockdown earlier this year.
Like many other businesses active in the print sector, Tech-ni-Fold felt a heavy hit in the early days of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown, with many of its customers putting orders on hold, while it also lost a major US distribution deal.
However, as owner Graham Harris told FESPA.com, he was keen for his business to use this as an opportunity for expansion, and set his staff the task of coming up with new ideas to help the company.
“This included emailing out offers for significant product discounts and allowing customers to pay over a longer period,” Harris said. “One employee focused on finding distributors in Brazil and Japan by offering reduced lockdown dealer discount, and it slowly began to work.”
For Harris and his son, they set their focus on the CreaseStream of the business – which specialises in creasing and perforating technologies – and expanding this so they were selling directly to the end user, rather than dealers.
“This plan worked amazingly well and it’s gathering momentum,” Harris said. “I feel that over the years we have been let down too many times by most dealers who don’t bother to learn about how customers can get the most out of our solutions. Lockdown forced us to react and we haven’t looked back.”
This change in approach also saw Tech-ni-Fold support other people who had been negatively impacted by the lockdown, including those placed on furlough in a range of industries.
“We jumped on trends we saw opening up,” Harris said. “For instance, so many furloughed people were printing greeting cards and selling through the internet, so we created a strategy where we filmed cards creasing and cutting on all our range of solutions, from manual to automatic.
“We posted on social media and sold to designers, copy shops, funeral directors, as well as more digital printers. Because dealer channels seized up, we could offer a 30% discount and free shipping for a period of time and it took off really well.”
Such was the success of this expansion that Tech-ni-Fold also developed a new folding solution to integrate into its automatic finishing equipment. The first FoldStream solution is now on trial with Harris saying it speeds up creasing and folding digitally printed cards.
“I still think the rest of the year, is going to be very tough but there is opportunity out there; you just have to work harder to find it,” Harris said.
“I spend most days working on European sales, then spend at least three evenings a week talking to US prospects and customers, and we do everything to take the worry away relating to buying from England.
“We stay close to the customers by offering support through telephone, Zoom or Skype, if required. They understand the new world we live in and actually commend us on our innovative approach.”
by Rob Fletcher