A firm which was badly hit by the floods at Christmas is now back in business after six months of repair work.
When Storm Desmond struck Lancaster in December, commercial printer Pagefast Print and Publishing Ltd was badly affected, as more than three feet of river water and sludge flowed into the works in Caton Road after the Lune burst its banks.
The water washed out most of the firm’s equipment, including a new machine installed just two months prior to the deluge.
After assessing the damage the Pagefast team decided to rebuild, and six months on, the business is finally back on its feet, putting ink to paper once more.
Throughout the disruption, support from Shanleys in Bolton, MTP Media and Kent Valley Printers in Kendal meant that Pagefast’s regular work could continue. Most importantly every member of staff remained employed throughout the rebuild and refurbishments.
Managing Director Keith Simpson said: “The storm devastated our systems, machinery, production and building, but everyone played their part in doing whatever was necessary to get the company up and running again. I am thrilled to have been able to retain all our staff through what’s been a terribly stressful time. Happily we can now start to move the business forward.”
Fortunately, some of the key production processes were housed on the first floor and survived the flood. The main presses and support equipment on the ground floor were in effect drowned, but design, admin, digital print, estimating, mailing and some of the print finishing operations were happily above the water line and stayed dry.
Emerging from the trauma, the company is equipped with a new plant that is as good as, if not better, than before. The main Komori press in particular is a state-of-the-art machine. Able to print faster, cleaner, and in a much more energy-efficient manner than its old press permitted, Pagefast has also been able to introduce a more competitive pricing structure.
From its conception in 1987 by Norman Burr and Henry Hicks, Pagefast has grown to be the largest lithographic and digital printing operation in the Lancaster and Morecambe area. The company still works with some of its customers from the mid-1980s, including its very first client, the British Microlight Aviation Association (BMAA), for which it produces a monthly magazine.
Keith, a grandfather-of-five, joined the company in 1988 and by 1991 had turned it from being a desk top publishers, to printing litho, with clients all over the country. With 11 staff, it produces anything stationery, business cards, letterheads, ncr pads, books, magazines and newspapers and also publishes many monthly magazines for companies, such as Microlite flying magazine and Keer to Kent for The Landscape Trust.
In 1965 Keith was an apprentice for Dance News, which was printed by the Visitor Group at Morecambe Press. In the 1990s when the Visitor Group came under Johnston Press, Dance News didn’t fit in the profile and Keith got the job of producing the paper.
Keith added: “Over the last 30 years we’ve fulfilled the commercial printing requirements of many local and national clients. With great new equipment, our same loyal staff and working to exacting standards, we plan to be around for many more years to come. Barring any more floods, the future starts now.”
Despite being 67, Keith has no plan to retire, saying: “It’s just getting interesting.” And outside of work, he is a keen cyclist and recently pedaled 114 miles, raising money for Lancaster Rotary Club, Unique Kidz and Headway.