Thirty Years of Contact – Meet Neil Jones

2022 is no doubt a historic year for Contact Originators, as we celebrate 30 years of successful operation in the packaging reprographics sector.

They say that ‘a business is only as good as its people’, and Contact Originators is a great demonstration – we have some of the most skilled and innovative minds in the print, packaging and graphics fields, combining tried-and-tested experience with truly forward-thinking technologies.

In a year of celebration, we want to showcase the evolution of the business and what better way to do that than with our team members?

Group Systems Manager, Neil Jones, is a long-serving member of the Contact team, joining the business in 2006. With 16 years at Contact Originators under his belt, Neil has seen the evolution of the business first-hand. Originally joining the business as a Studio Operator, Neil progressed to the role of Studio Manager and Technical Services Manager before beginning his current role.

Packaging reprographics is as essential as ever, but few businesses remain purely focused on that – it’s a more complex market and you have to offer more. It’s important to have a range of services; printers tend to be loyal with their choice of repro houses, when they find a good partner, they tend to stick with them.

“That’s certainly been the case here at Contact, we have evolved alongside our own customers and today’s technologies, and the level of precision, efficiency and speed we can access today was almost unthinkable in the repro industry 30 years ago.”

Heading up the Technical Services team, Neil has an extremely wide array of responsibilities within the company, helping to drive the business forward in areas such as application systems and deployment, automation, and workflows.

Helping out across all areas of the business and fixing everything from the coffee machine to complex press equipment, Neil is a great example of what makes the team so effective – expertise and proactivity.

Looking back across the three-decade long history of Contact Originators, Neil believes the biggest singular challenge for the business was its move to Dukinfield in 2020.

“In 2020, we suffered a major fire at our site in Bredbury, Stockport, which destroyed one of the two buildings and cut around 40% of our production capacity literally overnight.

“We needed to move the business rapidly, while keeping our productivity high and delivering for customers that were counting on us. Logistically, it was a huge and very daunting task, particularly as the move took place during the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2021.

“While the fire was devastating, it sharpened our focus on facilities and gave all of us new perspective. Now, of course, after a multi-million-pound investment, we are back and operating better than ever at our Dukinfield facility. We are still on top of our game, but there has been a lot of hard work behind the scenes to get to where we are now!”

The biggest shift Neil has seen over the years is in technology, which evolves to reflect the changing needs of the packaging sector. He believes that technology makes the job very different today than it was when he first began working at Contact, presenting new challenges that always push the business to achieve more.

“We started off in a very analogue printing world and have transitioned through a digital revolution. There’s a high level of automation and use of software or machine tech throughout the business, but it still takes an experienced team to make the most of it. Thirty years ago, the biggest worry for the team would be power cuts or machine stoppages, but now we are also aware of areas such as cyber-security as everything is connected.

“With retail more competitive than ever, customers have high expectations today. Everything has to be faster, with shorter turnaround times, exemplary quality every time and as sustainable as it can be. This balance is something that’s not easy to achieve without thirty years of perfecting your craft. That experience is something that sets us apart and makes us the go-to name for packaging reprographics today.

“Automation, in the way we use it at Contact, is vital to keeping up with the sectors we serve. By taking over a lot of the simpler and more repetitive tasks, it frees up the team to put them on more value-adding tasks for our clients. The industry’s rate of change is phenomenal, and we’re extremely proud to have been at the cutting edge for so long. We have no intention of slowing down now!”

Click here to learn more about the 30th anniversary of Contact Originators and what it means for the business.

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