Hope Technology - the Barnoldswick based manufacturer of high end bicycle components - put its recent decision to invest in a wide format Mimaki inkjet printer/cutter down to a desire to replicate its production efficiencies within its print department. With around 100 staff employed across its highly focussed operation, the company has been a proud supplier to the cycling industry since the late 1980s.
Marketing manager, Alan Weatherill has been with Hope since the very beginning and with ultimate responsibility of how his brand is portrayed in bike shops and at events around the country, the quality of output from his department's new printer was a key factor in Hope's decision to change brands with the new investment. "We need to show the Hope brand off at its best," he says. "I'm responsible for producing prints that will be seen in thousands of cycle shops around the country so it's important they're an accurate reflection of the brand."
Weatherill is quick to point out where his company's strength do (and don't) lie. "We're not a print company!" he asserts, "so ease of use was important too." Referencing the minimal maintenance required on the Mimaki CJV30, he also recognises that a varied demand for output combined with the productivity of the printer/cutter means they're not running the machine all day, every day. "We needed a machine that was reliable, had low maintenance requirements and that we could use when we needed to."
Hope invested in its Mimaki CJV30 from Granthams Graphic Technology - a long standing supplier to the company, who, according to Weatherill, easily convinced them it was the right move. "Our old printer/cutter couldn't accurately produce long runs of decals, but the demo we had with Granthams ensured we were confident about making them ourselves." So cost effective is the process that the company has now ceased to screen print its stickers, preferring to mirror its low product inventory with a minimum amount of marketing collateral held in stock too.
"Our dealers - who are primarily independent bike shops - can request any form of marketing resource from us," says Weatherill. "Hope's premium 'Tech Shop' dealers get even more support and we're now supplying personalised Hope collateral for them to use in their stores to promote our product ranges."
That customer list extends to some 1200 accounts in the UK alone and with export making up around 60% of the company's business, it's a considerable number of shops to look after, but it doesn't stop there. The burgeoning cycle industry now includes many races and events and Hope's consistent presence at these requires branding to be produced too. "We tailor our support for particular events, but the collateral is usually in the form of banners and signage that's created in-house on the Mimaki," Weatherill confirms.
Beyond the corridors of the beautifully renovated cotton mill (and former printers - ironically) that house Hope's offices, its manufacturing facility is equipped with an enviable arsenal of CNC milling equipment, laser cutting, anodising and engraving machinery. Raw material is brought in as billet and products leave in gleaming anodised finishes, machined to perfection and ready to hang from the bikes of discerning cyclists the world over. With the majority of Hope's staff living within cycling distance of the company, understandable warmth is felt within the community for the company that does an awful lot for it. Even though the machines run 24 hours a day, there's still plenty of time for staff to relax - whether it be riding out on one of the numerous test bikes the company makes available to its employees, or sitting in its relaxing coffee bar and breakout room - decorated in part with digitally printed wood cladding and mountain scenes to make anyone feel at home.
Even as a champion of communication for the company, Weatherill has one admission to make; "Our dealers don't realise how easy it is produce our own printed output!" The next task for his team is reprinting the many beautifully shot photographs that adorn the corridors and the enthralling museum that houses showcases of its current and former products, memorabilia and on-loan race bikes from the many pro riders the company has sponsored over the years.
"Window stickers for one of our dealers, personalised bike wash banners for Mountain Mayhem, perfectly cut out slat-wall branding for a Tech Shop or a shot of one of the Hope Factory Racing riders out in the hills - we'll run it all on the Mimaki," concludes Weatherill.
Hope Technology, its product range, information on its manufacturing processes, dealer network, team riders and more can be found at www.hopetech.com. Authorised Mimaki reseller Granthams Graphic Technology can be contacted through www.granthams.co.uk