We last spoke to Karl Welburn of Print, Copy, Scan in February this year, and a lot has changed since. As 2016 draws to a close, he has a bigger team, a better office, and more drive and determination than ever, as he tells us about his latest accomplishments and goals for the future.
Seeing deer wander past your office window would, for many people, be a real treat. For the team at Print, Copy, Scan, it’s a daily occurrence. As I drive into the car park of their new offices I see two small deer scamper past me before scurrying up the hill in Dark Lake Park, Darklake View, Estover.
PCS has just opened its new headquarters here and it’s a very impressive building covering two floors. Our photographer, Tom, is quick to describe it as ‘luxurious’ as I settle myself into a ‘comfy’ area in the corner of the main office – complete with an array of cyan, magenta, yellow and black chairs circling a table. A coffee machine nestles in the kitchen area and we’re treated to a very tasty cappuccino.
It’s been nearly 12 months since I last met Karl Welburn, director of PCS. It’s been a very eventful time for the company – and for the entrepreneur himself.
The new HQ is double the size of their old offices and it’s provided new energy for the team who make the business a success.
Before settling down with Karl, I have a quick chat with Jeff Wright who looks after the company’s stores – ensuring any one of a large number of toner cartridges and printers can be quickly dispatched to an awaiting client. It’s an important role and I’m amazed at the sheer level of organisation involved in helping the hundreds of PCS customers.
Jeff’s role is a crucial one and it quickly becomes clear the key to PCS’ business success is Karl’s ability to choose the perfect mix of people to make the company possess a formidable team of highly motivated professionals.
Chatting with Karl, it becomes clear he is happy to go further afield to find the perfect candidate. He recently employed Stuart King to help the firm with its increasing workload. Stuart hails from London but was the closest person Karl could find who possessed the perfect mixture of talent, drive and technical knowledge to ensure the business could continue to expand and work at its optimum best.
My first impression of PCS’ new HQ is, simply, ‘wow.’ The building is certainly impressive with its array of solar panels, LED lighting and, of course, photocopiers and printers. All of them are at the cutting edge of what is being produced and come with strong green credentials – something which is vital in the context of a more environmentally aware world.
“It’s all about sustainability,” explains Karl. “All of our Toshiba photocopiers are carbon offset so it makes sense to fit into the ethos of the suppliers. I believe we all have a duty to try to protect our natural world for future generations.”
Karl’s passion for helping other people is a key part of his business.
“We are also part of a project which helps to provide stoves for people in Kenya to help them cook in a safer and more environmentally friendly fashion. It’s great to be involved in an international scheme which helps thousands of people.”
It’s not just Karl who has this philanthropic gene. His sister, Clare Welburn, ran the London Marathon for Alzheimer’s Research and raised a staggering £5,000 for the charity.
Locally, Karl and a small team from the Plymouth Round Table, drove across Europe to raise £2,000 for Jeremiah’s Journey. The company also sponsored the Boxing Heroes event at Plymouth Pavilions (which was enjoyed by 600 people).
At the start of 2016, the company employed 12 people but, today, it holds a contingent of 16 (which includes the office dog, Ozzie). The Bichon Frise often happily trotters into work (with what appears to be the intrinsic goal of knocking over bins to try to find tasty titbits)!
The team should reach a magic milestone of 500 clients by the end of the year. Sheer hard graft has been behind its phenomenal success since PCS first started in March 2010.
“There’s no easy way of doing it,” says Karl. “It’s just a case of knocking on doors to find that needle in the haystack. The more doors you knock on the more clients you find.
“It’s our service which sets us apart from the rest, anyone can knock on doors but, compared to our competitors, we have more engineers for the number of machines in offices. It means we have a faster response time than many of our competitors.
“We carry more stock and can quickly access more than £50,000 worth of toner and parts for clients as and when it is needed.
“We are constantly training on the latest technologies as it is an area which is always changing. We have the latest high spec copiers in our own office so it gives us all the chance to ensure we’re personally up to date on developments in the industry.
“In this part of the world, the small firms are heavily involved in ensuring the success of the bigger companies. As such, it’s about the quality of service we provide for these teams and the pride we take in installing and maintaining their equipment.”
And it’s the teams pride in their work which wins them the accolades of their customers. They go to the nth degree to make sure their service is outstanding (Karl even worked on Boxing Day one year to fix a copier for a client).
With such dedication, the team’s reputation is fast seeing them as the Number One copier supplier in the region – with the aim of signing up a total of 500 clients within sight.
“My younger self would be happy with what I have done. It’s all been down to solid hard work and graft but I haven’t lost touch with my inner soul. I bought a caravan three years ago in Newquay and it’s good to go down there with my wife and two children to relax at weekends. It’s a special place as it’s only 45 minutes from home.”
Last time we met, Karl talked about the importance of achieving the right work-life-balance for being able to operate successfully in the business world. He explained to me one of the keys for entrepreneurial success is ensuring you’re always fresh and energized. If you’re tired, it means your judgement can become clouded.
As such, Karl enjoys cycling and shows me a photograph of a beautiful red and yellow Klein mountain bike which he has just bought. They stopped making them some 20 years ago and, for Karl, its vintage is the prime attraction.
“I’m really into my cycling and love retro mountain bikes as they allow me to remember what it was like to ride them when I was a kid.
“It’s good to engage with the old fashioned technology and it reminds me of going all over the Moors when I was younger and it’s great to be able to recapture that adventurous spirit.”
It’s perhaps this same adventurous spirit which once served him well as a youngster that now serves him well as one of the city’s leading entrepreneurs.
Call: 01752 401197
Find us: Unit 6 Dark Lake Park, 6 Darklake View, Estover, Plymouth, PL6 7FB