Catalyst Graphics are a signage display, point of sale, super wide formatting, printing business. Its head office is in Mount Kuring-gai, Sydney. Mark tells us about how Catalyst Graphics got started, how it operates, and what sets them apart from the competition. He also sheds some light on the problems they faced as a new business, how they overcame them, and gives some advice to new business owners.
How and why did Catalyst Graphics get started?
We're a signage display, point of sale and super wide format printing business. We originally started almost eleven years ago when the Director, Sean, left his current employer and set up a business supplied his previous employer. Since then we have grown and moved three times. We moved from Brookvale to Hornsby and from Hornsby to Mount Kuring-Gai where we are now. We have also expanded into the Brisbane market, in Eagle farm. So we have a Sydney and Brisbane production facility. Our head office is in Sydney.
Why have you decided to extend operations to Brisbane?
We have some clientele from Sydney that have offices, or parts of their business based up there. Brisbane has been taking on a lot more events since the Sydney Exhibition Centre at Darling Harbour is being demolished. They usually require a speedy turnaround so there was a market in Brisbane we were missing out on. So we've have capitalized on that.
Well that’s fantastic. Who are your customers and what problem are you solving for them?
We have direct retail; point of sale, display customers and then a lot of our business is coming from ad agency and print buyers. As well as commercial and individual printers who don't have the capability to print at the size we can.
What are your main products?
It could be broken down into several applications, and then we would say potentially substrates. We can print on pretty much anything.
**** Catalyst Graphics - Floor Advertising
“You can have the best technology, but if you don’t have the right resources running those, you can fall short of success”
What were some obstacles you faced early on? How did you overcome them?
So, it’s about having the right fit between technology and personality. You can have the best technology, but if you don’t have the right resources running those, you can fall short of success. Having a strong leader in the business and a hands-on Managing Director that has shifted the business forward is very helpful.
So that’s really exciting. And overcoming those obstacles is obviously being able to drive where the vision of the business is. The way you want to take it and then bringing the team along with you for the ride. Not everyone stays on the bus, and that’s okay, its fine to let people off at their stop and keep going on our path.
Has the "ride" always been so smooth?
No, In fact it’s riddled with challenges. It’s how you manage that, that helps you achieve your goals.
Catalyst Graphics is in the marketing industry. What marketing channels have been the most successful for you recently? And has this changed over the last few years?
Probably the foundation of the business is through word of mouth, referral, which is why networking is so important to our business. So a lot of our clientele, especially our events clients, have increased through the fact that we have treated existing customers well, and that’s really been a great foundation for Catalyst's continued growth. Along the way we have always had smaller segments like agency, print buyer, direct retail, point of sale. So now, the focus moving forward is to grow each of these customer segments to the same level as our events and conferences customers.
****Catalyst Graphics - Exhibition display
Are there any common concerns business owners have when considering a printing solution like Catalyst Graphics? And how do you approach alleviating these concerns?
The advantage we have over others is actually slightly a contradiction of terms. So our niche is that we have everything and well a niche is supposed to be really short and then deep. Specifically it's the fact that we do everything in that super wide format range, and so a lot of guys might have a 3 meter printer, but they don’t have finishing capabilities. Some of them might be able to print a fabric, but they don’t have the sewing capabilities. This allows us not only to be providing supreme quality, but we actually get to test it before it even goes out the door. A lot of others printers are sending it to 2 or 3 parties to fulfil an order. We can handle it all in house and this is a big competitive advantage.
“The only thing that is constant, is change.”
What’s your biggest motivator?
Taking over the world in the nicest possible way [laughs]. So we are very passionate about what we do. We do it very well, everyday becoming a little better at delivering a quality product. So, for me, it’s a continuous improvement, as the old saying goes. The only thing that is constant, is change. And so everyday, every job is different, so the constant is the change and we want to be able to provide a solution. Hence our slogan
“Your image is our solution”
That's really great to hear. What advice do you have for someone who is starting a business?
Off the record, don’t compete with us because you won’t win. [Laughs], but we would like to help you. So if you’re looking for signage and display just partner with us before you have to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars on equipment...
In all seriousness, some general advice is to understand you’re not necessarily an expert in every field. So focus on what you’re good at and let the experts do the rest. That’s where you can leverage through partnerships and get the benefit of valuable experience that the third parties have, to help you grow your business.