30 Eventful Years
Celebrating 30 Eventful Years of Image Display & Graphics
The first of February 2019 saw us meet a milestone, 30 years in business. What an 'eventful' time it’s been, full of so many memories. From lunching with the Queen and Prince Philip at the Sandringham Horse Driving Trials “not once but twice”. Jumping in a limo in Monaco one Saturday evening to find I was joining Stephen Hendry and John Parrot for dinner when we were building sets for the European snooker. Finding out truly what a gentleman Terry Wogan was at one of the many shopping centre openings we worked on...or to being totally ignored by Jeremy Clarkson at one of the very last London International Motor shows.
Over the years we’ve worked with many celebrities, lots of interesting stories there. However more importantly we’ve been privileged to work with some fantastic clients. So we would just like to take a minute to say thank you to all of our clients past, present and future. We really appreciate your business and support over the years and we are honoured to be still working today with clients that we began working 30 years ago.
1989 - 1994
When we launched as Image Development in 1989, we commenced trading from a small city centre office in Cathedral Street which was home to our design studio and admin facilities. Meanwhile our modest production facility for sign-making and graphics (my garage), was located in Swanton Morley with a further exhibition carpentry workshop (my father in law’s garage), based in Dereham. By June of the same year we had moved to our newly built, 2 unit premises at Hellesdon Park, on the Norwich north-west ring-road. It wasn’t anytime at all until those two units had grown to 4 and as they say the rest is history. We incorporated as Image Display & Graphics Ltd in 1996 and here we are today, some 30 years on, and still at it.
Over the past 30 years we’ve been pleased to have won many awards for our stand design and build prowess. Moreover we’ve been happy to have gotten so many of our clients noticed with our graphics in the high street, in stores, on billboards and vehicles. We’ve helped them get their products to market and connect them with buyers and consumers at exhibitions. We’ve been there to create environments and sets, and assist when they entertain or motivate and communicate with staff, management and customers at conferences. We’ve managed to keep their visitors informed, amazed and fed them at hospitality events and outdoor shows. In short for 30 years we’ve helped communicate our client’s brands and values in personal, relevant and memorable ways... and we have no plans to stop yet.
Ringing the Changes
We’ve seen a lot of change over the past 30 years; in ourselves, the industry, the work we do and of course the world we live in. It would be impossible to revisit all the changes that have influenced and changed the way we work, however we’ve reminisced over a few to briefly highlight our journey so far.
By now we had expanded to 4 industrial units...
At Hellesdon Park, one of which was a dedicated sales and exhibitor centre. Our sales force had grown to a full time staff of 3 and we had introduced a trade division. We’d achieved that must have “ISO BS 9001 accreditation for conceptual design and manufacturing and in 1997 incorporated as Image Display & Graphics Ltd. (The name 'Image Development' was already taken). As a result of digital technology the Pop Up display was having its day and the banner stand had arrived. New, faster, better quality digital printers replaced our old HP’s and bigger and faster finishing machines added. We took on further distributorships which included an exclusive UK deal for rights to import and distribute the original Swedish designed Pop Up. Marler Haley, the biggest and oldest manufacturer of modular displays at the time appointed us as regional distributors, which was a big feather in our cap. Now there wasn’t anything on the market we couldn’t sell and the whole country wanted DIY portable displays. Not surprisingly our focus changed from traditional custom build to being much more modular and graphics led. Meanwhile our involvement in county shows had grown; we were installing stands at up to 60 county and royal shows a year, not just building award winning show stands but manufacturing and operating our own fleet of exhibition trailers, which we also offered for sale. Little did we realise that the bubble would burst before the end of the decade.
The internet had taken hold and exhibitions and events were a thing of the past...or were they?
The internet had taken hold having gained popularity since arriving around 1995. By now the media industry was besotted and everything that was anything just had to be “On Line”. We were told we didn’t need brochures, print was dead and of course exhibitions and live events were a total waste of time., everything could be achieved “On Line”. Of course we would later learn that this wasn’t to be the case but just like the theatres and cinemas exhibitions and live events took a downturn as we ended the millennium and things started to slow down. Having seen the writing on the wall we had thankfully already began to make changes. The advent of technology had seen staff levels already decrease and as our leases ended on three of our units at Hellesdon Park we moved everything under one roof in new premises in Bowthorpe. We were still in the wake of the county shows being destroyed by an outbreak of foot and mouth when the country was brought to its knees by of all things the world cup of 2002. Dark times for a while and many associate companies had by now gone to the wall.
Our business took on a whole new order as we approached the mid 2000s
Our modular and portables business was being hit very badly by poor quality imports and everyone and their sons seemed to be offering digital print solutions all be it at the bottom end. We invested in still bigger and better digital print technology adding outdoor eco solvent to our repertoire. This opened up an entirely different area of possibilities and enabled us to expand our environmental credentials which were becoming increasingly important to many of our customers. Fortunately the internet hadn’t killed exhibitions; cinemas, theatres and yes trade shows, exhibitions and live events were becoming more popular. With this renewed interest in exhibitions came a greater level of understanding. We found our clients didn’t have money to waste at exhibitions but were prepared to spend measured budget for an appropriate return on their investment to win more business. Music to our ears, this refreshed thinking fitted perfectly with the way we had restructured our business in an effort to encourage and support our clients. Our custom/modular approach to construction was a perfect solution and suited the reduced budgets available. Meanwhile our involvement in other events such as conferences, launches and alike had increased and our role in the corporate signage market had strengthened.
Our investment in new technologies continued as we left the noughties
We outgrew large format alone and expanded into “grand format” adding a new eco solvent machine which prints at widths up to 2600mm wide. The number of events delivered each year by our talented and dedicated team continued to grow both in number and variety. Although our core focus remained mainly on exhibitions and events signage, quality graphics had again become an increasingly important part of our day to day workload. Having outgrown our rented Bowthorpe premises and with the lease coming to an end we purchased our own unit in July 2012. This was refitted and refurbished during the following months to provide an energy efficient, purpose built premises ready for our relocation to Fletcher way in December 2012. One year on we had settled in. Investment continued in computer and print technology, upgrading to a new large format Canon printer added in December, ready for the varied projects and opportunities on the horizon.
30 Years, Still Eventful...
We grew into our bigger premises very quickly following our move in December 2012, picking up new momentum as the projects we continued to work on made a return to more bespoke builds with a much greater creative flavour. Clients have grown much more “objective” focused again with emphasis on making their events more successful rather than just “economic”. We’ve always had the ability to manage budgets effectively and when engaged, deliver much more than just a stand build. Our years of industry experience, creative prowess, innovation and attention to detail were becoming in increased demand which has set the standard and style for the majority of projects we now deliver. As a result our events calendar has been kept pretty full year on year with the lion’s share, some 80%, being exhibition focused. As for the remaining 20% workload, this has continued to be diverse and reactive to the needs of our clients, largely creative or graphics led. This included the launch of “Your Castel” a brand we introduced in early 2017 which focused on bespoke wall coverings and interior décor for both business and residential use. This built on the innovative textiles and graphic treatments we incorporate at exhibitions providing us with additional design work and print production and installation.
We're so thankful to our wonderful clients, who have allowed us to be part of their events and trusted us to create something truly extraordinary. We can wait to see what the next 30 years has in store & we hope you will be a part of it!