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In March 2021, former Heidelberg executive Anthony Thirlby and his Venn Holdings partner Andy Rae acquired JDP, formerly known as John Dollin Printing. Since then, they have been constantly improving the business and the sales philosophy.
“Having bought the business during a pandemic, it was tough, but there were also some great opportunities. The business was making a third of what it made pre-covid, but it had no debt so we decided to treat it as a start-up despite the fact that John Dollin has been trading since 1976.” Anthony Thirlby, Co-Founder of Venn Holdings.
When taking over JDP, Venn Holdings needed to review all aspects of the business both operationally and commercially, including the company’s MIS software. JDP had been a customer of Tharstern for many years, but before the acquisition the system was used purely for estimating, job costing and invoicing. Thirlby and Rae knew it would need a refresh, but they also knew they wanted to stay with Tharstern based on both the functionality of the software and the people behind it: “One of the reasons we stuck with Tharstern after the acquisition is the people behind the system. Keith McMurtrie, Lee Ward and Andy Strand know me very well and know my vision for workflow and automation in a print business, and with John Murphy sat behind them we knew we would have perfect support for what we wanted to achieve.”
Within a few months the MIS has been completely reimplemented from scratch including new data and cost policies. They also removed 17 different machines from the company to simplify their offering to the market.
Thirlby’s strategy for the business has resulted in a complete overhaul of their Tharstern MIS system, which now sits at the heart of the business with all other software and equipment built up around it. This strategy has turned their 15 job a day average, into 167 within 3 months, this is without increasing any headcount in the administration and pre-press areas of the business.
“It’s been amazing to be part of such a huge transition by Anthony and his team in such a quick period of time, they’ve shown what’s possible with Tharstern, and other partners, if you have the vision and drive to achieve it. It can be a demanding project to undertake but you will really reap the benefits if you put your mind to it and have a supportive and enthusiastic team behind you.” Lee Ward, Chief Revenue Officer at Tharstern.
During previous consultancy roles at other print businesses around the globe, Thirlby completed similar workflow implementations, but it often took a prolonged period, rather than months, “Back then, the print industry wasn’t ready for what we were trying to create. The acceleration into digitization and automation over the past six or seven years has given us the information we needed to achieve our goal with JDP and we were able to do it a lot faster due to our very clear roadmap." states Thirlby
“We have recently invested in HP Indigo technology with our purchase of the 100K. When investing in highly capable production kit it’s important to not lose sight of the workflow that needs to feed it. With Tharstern we know we have an MIS that can handle the diverse nature of how our orders are won, placed with us and decide the appropriate production route they need to take in our multi-vendor facility. We have Heidelberg, Enfocus Switch, HP and Sage software platforms that all need to be pulled together to create an automated workflow from sales to delivery and Tharstern is the glue that does that. Without this workflow it would not be possible to average 140 jobs a day through our HP Indigos or 25 jobs a day on our Heidelberg presses. Tharstern makes it possible to do all this with minimal touch points and receive all-important job costing feedback irrespective of what vendor equipment it was produced on.”
But that’s not it for JDP; Thirlby and his team have a lot planned for the near future. They have a new Heidelberg XL75, the first of its kind, arriving in 4 weeks time and there’s a strong possibility they will order a second in the coming months. The plan for Venn Holdings is to increase revenue ten-fold in 9 months through a targeted growth and acquisition strategy.