In the latest episode of ProfileTree’s award-winning Business Leader series, we sat down with Gareth Tipping, Sales Director at Garment Graphixs to talk branding, embroidery and printing a path to business success. Working in a company with over 25 years of experience in the field, Gareth talks us through his own experiences in sales, the value of branding and the impact of digital transformation on his business.
Gareth’s contribution joins a series of interviews with business and sectoral leaders from across Belfast and beyond, recently recognised with the Best Content Marketing Award for a Video Series at the inaugural Irish Content Marketing Awards. Now accessible via ProfileTree’s official Business Leaders channel on YouTube, the interview expands upon the popular series, now featuring discussions on a range of industries including tourism, hospitality and marketing.
A family-run business for over 25 years, Garment Graphixs was established by Gareth’s father and uncle before successive family members joined the business, including Gareth, his wife and his brother. Kicking off our discussion, Gareth shares some insights into his own career background and his path towards entering the family business: “Whenever I left school, a lot of my friends were entering apprenticeships and various trades. My dad had a few shops, and we used to go up to Nutt’s Corner Market and trade there on cold Sunday mornings,” he recalls.
For Gareth, these early experienced formed the bedrock of his career in sales. When the family established the print and embroidery business, a door-to-door salesperson was required. “I put my hand up, and that’s how my career in sales started,” he shares. “It was more of a service-based business, rather than a product-focussed. It grounded me, helped me respect people’s time and made me respect how difficult it is to go out and earn a living. It really was a ‘University of Life’ experience.”
The business of Garment Graphixs has undergone significant change over the course of 25 years, with the company gradually evolving into a professional branding service. “We are able to supply and offer a service that runs from front of house to back of house. We don’t like to outsource anything, as we like to have full control and oversight over our own promises,” says the Sales Director. “It’s very customer-focussed, and we have tried to build that into our own ethos. We heard the motto that ‘if you don’t look after your customer, somebody else will’, and that’s absolutely true.”
According to Gareth, it is essential that branding is consistent from back of house to front of house. “A uniform can tie in with branded vehicles, their website, their stationary and their signage – it can be all-encompassing in one corporate identity. Sometimes it adds a little more personality to the brand, and our clients are often surprised at the results. This has led to great social media promotion for our own business, and getting that recognition makes a real difference,” he says. Indeed, it is this reputation combined with digital transformation which has allowed the business to flourish – even in times of economic downturn.
“We found that when the recession hit, a lot of competition would be specific to one industry. When the construction industry took a nosedive, we had clients who may had previously ordered 50 jackets, and that was then reduced to say, 13 jackets. There was no surplus in the economy at that time,” he shares. “We didn’t lose any customers, but what we were able to do was add value to the customer experience. We would offer a cheaper garment, but also a higher quality garment. This means that a lot of the clients we have gained over the past 25 years have actually stayed with us.”
Much of the work carried out by Garment Graphixs involves understanding a client’s vision and assisting them in producing something solid and in print. “We are able to walk each customer through the process and the pitfalls of what is required. We will offer clients two or three options in either category, and when they find something they are happy with, we have done our job,” shares Gareth.
Years of industry experience prompted Garment Graphixs to narrow down their business offering, focussing instead on what they do best. “Some time ago, our company offered keyrings, mouse mats and a variety of plastic-based products manufactured by an outsourced company. We sat down and asked ourselves whether this was a valuable addition to our business. We decided to abandon that to focus on their best assets,” he continues. Gareth explains that when they outsourced products or services, the company placed their reputation in the hands of a third party. “We always felt uncomfortable about that, and it took us a long time to make the decision to end that.”
Moving into the digital sphere has represented a significant learning curve for the team at Garment Graphixs. “We decided to invest in some camera equipment and an idea around our own story, rather than simply copying what everyone else is doing. That started with social media, showcasing products, logos and the services we offer – as well as injecting a little fun into it. It was incredible, and we could show that to thousands of people. The online side of our business is now really valuable, and we can communicate things to our customers regularly, rather than waiting for the next company brochure or newsletter.”
Social media has been particularly responsible for the growing digital success of Garment Graphixs. “With social media, we can target people 4-6 weeks before they might consider our services. It allows us to forward plan with our suppliers, using data to make transactions as smooth as possible. We are also investing in a lot more video marketing, case studies and a new website that will help our customers walk through the journey.
“Branding is the most important part of business. If people don’t know who you are, they’ll never buy anything from you. Branding opens the door, explains who you are and shows your clients and customers that you are trustworthy. It tells your story for you, and branding is absolutely the key,” he concludes.
Gareth Tipping’s Business Leader episode is now accessible via ProfileTree’s official Business Leader channel. To discover what video and content marketing can do for your brand or organisation, get in touch with the expert team today.