Startup printer supplier turns over £1m in pandemic

Ross Cracknell owner of Evolve Business Solutions in Ipswich Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Ross Cracknell, managing director of Evolve Business Solutions in Ipswich - Credit: Archant

The 'buy local' mindset emphasised by the pandemic helped an Ipswich print solutions business turn over £1million in its first year of trading. 

While many businesses - particularly ones that relied heavily on office life working as normal - were coming up with rapid plans to manage the changes brought by the pandemic, Evolve Business Solutions was just starting.

He said that friends thought he was mad, going back into the managed print market, but Ross Cracknell, 33, knew there could be a big opportunity. 

Speaking about the launch of Evolve Business Solutions, he said: "On the face of it, Evolve sell printers to offices and started a business during a pandemic when everyone was told to stay home. 

"In March 2019 the company I worked for got bought by a national company and after several months within my new role and surroundings, I realised corporate life wasn't for me. The size, the fact you had to jump through so many hoops. 

"Anyone starting a business in a pandemic, why should it put anyone off? We'd have to come out of it at some point." 

Despite working from home restrictions and budgets tightening, one of the mindsets born from the lockdown really helped Evolve find success. 

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"There's no reason it should work at all," the managing director explained. "But it has because of people supporting local businesses. 

"Pre-pandemic people probably would've bought off a big national firm, but I think the past few years have just changed everyone's mindset and thought process."

Ross Cracknell owner of Evolve Business Solutions in Ipswich Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Evolve has expanded over the past year, despite the challenges of the pandemic Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: Archant

Evolve has expanded from four members of staff in 2020 to ten in 2022, with Ross Cracknell joining the business in 2021, and now operates from two offices. 

In the first year it turned over just over £1m and projections have second year turnover at around £1.6m, with Mr Cracknell describing the direction of the company as "only going one way". 

"It's not just about purchasing the printer; we supply the service and support afterwards.  

"And that's the bit that people have appreciated being local, because they can pick up the phone and speak to myself or one of the ladies in the office and get more of a personal feel." 

The decision to return to the managed print industry that friends thought was mad has paid off - and Mr Cracknell believes that stories about paperless offices and the end of printing have been greatly exaggerated. 

He said: "People's printing habits have changed, there's no getting away from that, but I'm yet to see a paperless office. 

"If there are any, it's a very small minority.

"I think it'll always be that way. If my generation is using pen and paper it's still going to be around for a long time." 

Sustainability does factor into Evolve's business plan, with scanners and document archiving solutions also available for purchase/rent. 

"All the machines we sell are made out of recycled plastic, so we try and keep our footprint down as much as we can. 

"I do feel there'll always be a need for paper but our business can't always be reliant on people printing, so we will move with the times as well."

Ross Cracknell owner of Evolve Business Solutions in Ipswich Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

The business turned over more than £1million last year and is on course to better that this year Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: Archant

Exceeding all expectations is exciting for Mr Cracknell and his team, who know that success was not guaranteed. 

But after selling more than 300 printers in the first year, more than doubling initial estimations, hard work is paying off.