Home' New Zealand Printer Magazine : December 2013 Contents 38
EMPLOYING about 20 people, Total
maintains a sound reputation as a
specialist in the industry.
Dean Stuart, company owner,
says, "If you have an issue, you come
to us. We have back-up from Avery
Dennison, 3M and Arlon: three
distinctive brands. They have been
stalwart in the industry many years.
We created the name Total because that
is what we want to be to the industry:
its specialist supplier. We understand
consumables and we are happy to share
what we know."
Total boasts an impressive lineage
and history. Incorporated in 1963 as
Goodmans and subsequently purchased
by Letraset, it traded under that name
until Esselte bought it. In 2004, Stuart
completed a management buyout and he
has guided the company to its present
He says, "The beauty of coming from
a corporate, as Esselte was, into a small
business, is that we have taken the good
aspects from the corporate side and
applied and left behind the baggage that
doesn't work, especially the issues that
make a business slow."
After the buyout, Stuart took time
to learn how the company could best
serve its clients. He says, "Customer
service is a major issue out there and we
continually work hard for our clients.
We employ a dedicated customer service
team, which in our industry is unusual.
All our dedicated team does is help the
customers with orders and give them
the right information. You can't have
the storeman picking up the phone; our
customers don't have that kind of time
In 2010, Total claimed a major
competitor when it bought Spandex
New Zealand and amalgamated that
into its business. Stuart says, "That
gave us a few major brands including
Avery Dennison. In effect, we claimed
our major competitor. That acquisition
enabled us to become the supermarket
of the sign industry. Basically, it meant
that whatever consumables sign makers
needed, they could get it from us."
The company has sites in Auckland
and Christchurch. He says, "We share
the philosophy that we should have less
locations and more capability. Total
takes orders up to 5pm and we can have
them anywhere in the country the next
Adapt and thrive
TOTAL specialises in wall to foor LEDS
and advertising signage. Stuart says,
"We are always expanding our range.
Signies have had to evolve or die.
"Signage combines creativity,
fabrication printing, and tactile
installation. Printing might be 3000
books but signage is often just one sign
hundred signs for a client, often each
sign still needs to be different.
Although industry knowledge and
expertise runs right through Total,
sales and marketing manager James
McIntosh, believes the company needs
to keep raising the bar. He says, "We
are constantly having to step up and be
better at what we do. While we have a
lot of history and mileage, the learning
curve for what we do is steep, especially
for colour flm. Every substrate acts
differently and with New Zealand's
harsh environment, you require good
As the lines become blurred between
sign, print and packaging, Total has
seen other companies enter its domain.
McIntosh says, "We believe that
trend will continue but we don't see
competition as a bad thing. It makes
everyone stronger and expands the
possibilities of what we can achieve."
Stuart says, "My father was a
tradesman sign writer. While he said
that the industry would never be taken
over by computers. In fact, we were
one of the frst trade-driven industries
impacted by IT.
"In an ever evolving industry, we
need to know where our clients are
heading. We work with manufacturers
to fnd the best solutions. We talk to
manufacturers and we attend to trade
shows so we are always looking for the
best way to serve our customers."
Service consumes Total
Outside the industry, people call it Total Supply but inside,
everyone knows it as Total
THE Total philosophy centres on its clients.
Dean Stuart says, "It is very much about
relationships. Our customers become our friends,
so their business becomes our business. Of course,
you nd out who your friends are when there is an
issue. When there is a fail on a job, we stick by our
customers and help them out.
"For example, in sign making, di erent
substrates have to last in di erent sites in di erent
circumstances. With new entrants, that is often their
biggest hurdle. We can help new entrants with our
expertise. We really specialise in this part of the
market. If it is printed or manufactured sign in any
description then we play a part in it.
"In a service business, it is all about the customer.
We have had some of our customers for 30 years
plus. We haven't expanded our customer base that
much, with the exception of the digital and print
guys coming in. We really focus on taking good care
of the customers we already have.
"So we are not knocking on doors looking for
business. No one likes pushy sales people. We are
here to help. When a print or copy business wants
to get into signage, we can point them in the right
direction and we can help them to understand the
di erences in the businesses."
Concentrating on consumables allows
impartiality. Stuart says, "We will give our clients the
right product for the right machine for the right job.
That impartiality is a vital ingredient for our success.
We aren't trying to lock anyone into an agreement
for deals with machines or other products and
Client-based strategy for success
Total service: Andrew McIntosh (l) and Dean Stuart from Total place customer service
at the top of the list
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