Andrew Watts of AP&C
SINCE taking over as the sole owner of Apple Print and Creative in 2014, Andrew Watts has steered the business on to a new, and very successful, path.
He now has two new women at the top with him – Ruth Pike and Julie Stephens – and is about to increase the workforce by a further 25 per cent.
The firm is also currently going through a soft rebrand and now calls itself AP&C.
“We needed to change the name because it no longer reflects everything we do,” explains Andrew.
“We’ve come a long way from our 1986 roots in printing and our marketing pedigree is now through the roof.
“The business is split 50/50 between printing and marketing and we are growing both all the time.”
But he was keen to highlight that, although embracing the new side of the business, AP&C has not forgotten where it came from.
“We are still investing in print,” he says. “A new Canon 10,000 image press is currently being installed downstairs as we speak.
“This shows our commitment to printing, even though we are growing the marketing side.
“We are still doing what we used to do and we are still doing it very well.”
The introduction of Ruth, in 2015, who is now Andrew’s business partner, and Julie, who is a director of the company too, has ensured the firm has gathered the skills to enable it to open its doors to larger, multinational businesses.
“We are now working with companies like IBM, Lenovo and Arrow ECS,” Andrew adds. “We are running marketing programmes for partner marketing and end-user lead generation.
“We are a hyper local business that has the skills and experience of dealing with massive corporates and we can now bring that experience to help our local customers.
“We have secured those large corporate companies and delivered on those lead generations.
“It has been a wild ride, but we’re really enjoying it.”
For Andrew, that ride started back when he was just 16-years-old.
Arriving in Newbury as a teenager, after growing up in Peckham, London, Andrew was sent to work at Apple Print by Tammera Easterling at West Berkshire Training Consortium.
“I went to Reading College to do a City and Guilds in print and communication and started working at Apple Print on March 24, 1989,” he says.
He started working as a machine printer and general dog’s body.
“Being the YTS boy I had to make all the tea,” he adds. “Some things never change.
“I was a cheeky London character and so my boss thought I may be good at sales.
“I went to visit one company – just turning up at the offices – and six months later we landed the biggest contract we had ever had.”
Andrew, who is 44 years old, then had stints as production manager and also in account management, going on to become production director.
“It was at this time that John [Proudfoot, who set up Apple Print], decided he wanted out,” explains Andrew.
“Because of my print knowledge I was in a perfect position to take over from him.”
In 2008 Andrew bought out John, who had set the business up in 1986.
“We had worked together for 19 years and it was his business from the start,” Andrew adds.
“I bought his shares out and that was really tough.
“I had always imagined John and I would have run the business together, but we were different ages and John was thinking about retirement and security while I was thinking about growth.”
Andrew worked alongside John’s previous partner and they ran the business together until 2014, with Andrew later buying the last partner out.
In November 2012 ,the company moved into its current premises, The Orchard, in Abex Road, Newbury, having been based in Faraday Road since 1988.
The company now employs 20 people, with five new positions to be created by the end of 2017.
“We are going to make people and the local community a real focus over the next five years,” Andrew adds.
“Ruth and I have always believed in making West Berkshire the place that we do the most engagement.
“We are investing on all levels and that includes focussing on leadership.
“We are going to be encouraging staff to improve and employing the best people for the job.”
AP&C is becoming known within the larger corporations for offering innovative ideas and the fact that it has the in-house printing facility means it can offer an incredibly quick turnaround on collateral.
It was recently named as the only marketing agency on the approved suppliers list for a large IT company.
“We are a multi-skilled agency specialising in marketing and printing,” Andrew says.
“Our management team is now so strong, with such good pedigree.
“Add to that 100 years of printing experience and you have the perfect package.”