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Print: Meet the expert

Meet our print specialist, Matt Brown

Tell us about your work history…

I joined the print trade at 16 and learnt everything from scanning transparencies, to outputting film to an image setter, retouching photos and much more. I also gained a comprehensive understanding of pre-press, offset print and digital printing.

I’ve previously worked as a digital press operator, a demonstrator/engineer and as part of the installation and operating training team for print exhibitions. It was here that I learnt how to operate various Indigo digital presses, which acted as a great foundation of knowledge.

I then worked in sales roles for two manufacturers. A complete understanding of the print workflow was key in these roles so that I could sell the correct solutions. I believe that recommending the right solution is essential when building trust and integrity and I will always do what is right to protect this. When the opportunity came to join Close Brothers Asset Finance it was exactly what I was looking for. This role allows me to build long-term relationships and be of value to businesses throughout their life cycle and during both positive and challenging times.

How does your industry experience help you in your current role as an Area Sales Manager?

Firstly, I can constructively question if the investment is the right fit for the client. In some cases, I have been able to recommend an alternative, better investment that the client has not considered. Understanding the trade, I specialise in also helps when it comes to writing the finance proposal for our internal underwriters. We are proud of our quick decision-making process and understanding the asset and how it will impact on our customer’s business in terms of profit and competitiveness is hugely beneficial when it comes to making the final decision. Finally, understanding the strength of various manufacturers within the market and the true costs of capital equipment can be advantageous when considering investments!

Having 24 years of knowledge, I often have long-standing customers asking for my opinion on certain products. I genuinely love that my customers call me to ask if there is a product which will satisfy their business requirements.

What technological developments have you witnessed in the print field?

In the past 20 years, print has changed completely - at 16 I was scanning transparencies in oil, now images are photographed and saved to a memory stick. I was taught how to output film from an imagesetter and then to create match prints and Ozalid proofs as a form of proofing, now plates are made straight from a platesetter and soft proofed as a PDF! However, the biggest change I have seen is with digital print, when I ran one of the first digital presses people would say things like, “It will never be as good as litho!” You don’t hear that often now, but you do hear green button technology, which is very much how some of the traditional highly skilled jobs have become within the industry. Finally lead times have changed dramatically - you used to see job boards meticulously planned hourly for jobs to be printed for the next four or five weeks, now you speak to customers and they don’t know what they are printing in three days let alone three months!

Which assets are most in demand across the sector at the moment?

Technology has changed so much recently, I have customers that are now replacing two presses with one. The latest presses are so automated that customers are now telling me they can make ready a B1 press with saleable print in 60 sheets, which is phenomenal. You have to ask yourself, unless it’s personalised, where is the digital / litho cut off with regards to margins now? As the market changes and companies adapt, I firmly believe that for companies to survive longer term, you will see more companies forming groups.