The history of Printgraphics

In 1967, 20 year old Ray Keen arrived in Melbourne as a ten pound migrant from England. For a while he struggled to find work – any work!! He was devastated when down to his last 20 cents, he was told he was too intelligent for a job in a shoe factory. The next day he was offered a job as an office clerk at Leigh-Mardon – a large printing firm, and so began his love affair with ink on paper!

Ray was so fascinated by the printing process, he took himself off to night school to study the Theory of Printing and eventually became an Estimator. He moved on to Morphet Press as an Estimator, then later as Production Manager.

In 1974, Ray answered an ad for a general Estimator/Production Manager at a small printing company called District Offset Printing in Thornton Crescent, Mitcham. This company was owned by two Dutch migrants whose main business was architectural model making.

When Ray joined District Offset Printing in 1974, the pressroom consisted of a KORD, a Rotaprint and a Heidelberg Platen (letterpress). Ray answered the phone and did Estimating and Production.

In 1975, it was decided to establish a plate making room and a French photographer tourist was employed to set up the Camera Room. His wife worked next door in the model making factory. Peter Norton was later employed as the full time camera operator.

In early 1979, the owners of District Offset Printers decided to sell off the printing division of their business and concentrate on the architectural model making only - then called Techshape, now Scale Models.

Ray Keen and Peter Norton bought District Offset Printing in March 1979. Ray was the Director doing accounts, admin and sales. Peter, also a Director, operated the camera room, plate making and some sales. Kevin Mills was employed in Estimating, Purchasing and Production, along with 2 printers, one guillotine operator and a bench hand – 7 people in all.

When Ray and Peter brought the business, Ray’s father-in-law, Miles Schofield, gave valuable advice to establish various systems that ensured sufficient reports were at hand for the correct management of the company. Most of these systems are still in use today. Miles is still the chairman of the Board of Directors and keeps an experienced eye on the overall health of the company.

In 1982, in order to grow the business, District Offset Printing merged with another small print shop – Naismith Printing. This merge added an additional client base and the business changed its name to Printgraphics Pty. Ltd.

Shortly after this, Printgraphics acquired its first contract for a monthly magazine (The VACC Journal) so an SORD was purchased (a single colour A1 size press). To fit it in the factory at Thornton Crescent, the Heidelberg Platen was sold and a new printer was employed to run the SORD – George Coulter.

It soon became obvious that bigger premises were needed, so in 1985 a factory was leased at 5 Mary Street, Blackburn. As the business grew over the next few years, the Admin, Sales and Bindery Departments were moved into premises in Railway Rd Blackburn, while the press, plate making and art departments remained in Mary Street.

In 1986, Peter Norton wanted to open his own small printing business in Tanunda, South Australia, so Ray purchased his 50% share and became the sole owner of Printgraphics.

In 1989, the “recession we had to have” was biting hard. A 4 colour Akiyama had been purchased in Nov 1986 and with many clients facing financial difficulties, the cash flow was extremely compromised. Consolidation was necessary to keep going.

Design technology was rapidly changing and very expensive. Typesetting machinery was obsolete before it was paid for. So the Art Department was closed down, the Bindery, Sales and Admin incorporated back into 5 Mary Street and the Railway Rd premises was let go. This enabled the company to keep going, but things were very scary for a while.

Later in 1989, a Roland 5 colour press was purchased. Having two multi colour presses allowed increased production, but all machinery ages and newer presses were much more efficient.

In 1999, the decision was made to trade both multi colour presses for a more efficient 5 colour Komori printing press, a far more efficient machine.

Around this time the brilliant, efficient young Production Manager, Mark Terrill expressed an interest in buying into the business, so in 2002, Mark joined Ray to become a shareholder of Printgraphics.

Over time, the sales team was growing and work was filling the one machine. This began to create a feeling of vulnerability as any extensive breakdown would be disastrous. The factory in Blackburn was too small to fit another 5 or 6 colour machine.

So in 2002, the decision was taken to move the company to Hardner Road, Mount Waverley. The one machine looked so small in the large area of the new factory! Once settled in, the hunt was on for a second machine to compliment the 5 colour. So a 6 colour Komori was purchased in September 2004. It was shipped to Hardner Road in three 40 feet containers, taking 6 months from purchase to full installation in 2005.

With the new press, the bindery needed to grow, and technological developments have required the establishment of the adding of a perfect binder and the establishment of the Computer to Plate (CtP) area.

Keeping up with technology is important if you are to remain competitive in the marketplace, so in mid 2009 it was decided to replace the 5 colour Komori with a new 10 colour Komori. This magnificent machine arrived in May 2010.


We are very proud at Printgraphics to have many long term employees, some you may know –

Peter Dearing (1986) 
Mark Terrill (1991) 
Gilberto Ceroni (1995) 
Mary Giblin (1996) 
Nicholas Raftopoulos (1999) 
Joanne Nicolaci (2000) 
Paul Kilgour (2000) 
Rod Cutajar (2002) 
Michal Chwalinski (2003) 
Wayne Kretschmer (2004) 
Nigel Quirk (2005)


13th July 2016

30 years on!

Thank you to Peter Dearing for 30 years at Printgraphics Printgreen.

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