The firm will shortly celebrate its sixth birthday and its rise has been down to a lot of hard graft by its team of 12.
“My family have always been grafters,” explains 37 year old Karl. “If you work hard then you will do well. If you’ve given it 100% then you will be fine. The team at PCS give it 110%.”
His Gran would always tell him that it didn’t matter if he ended up stacking shelves as long as he put 100% effort into doing it. It’s a sentiment which has stood British industry in good stead for years. As Sir Henry Royce, one of the founders of Rolls-Royce once reportedly said, “Whatever is rightly done, however humble, is noble.”
With its hard work “can do” attitude, PCS achieved a turnover of just over £1 million last year. An amazing feat by anyone’s standards, but, even more so, when you realise that, back when it started, in March 2010, Karl was pulling shifts as a pizza delivery driver just to make ends meet.
With a wife and a baby to support then it was a case of knocking on doors, delivering leaflets and remaining confident that business would grow. And grow it did. Today it has around 360 clients and it is continuing to expand towards the 500 mark.
“Failure isn’t even something to consider. You do not go into something to fail.”
“Sometimes things don’t work but if they don’t then you tweak it and try to do it again as it may be that the idea was good but the implementation could be altered to make it successful.”
It’s a sentiment which is echoed in the early part of Karl’s life.
At the age of eight, he saw his cousin at a “passing out” parade for the Royal Navy. It became his dream to join up and to serve but, during training, he discovered that it wasn’t quite for him; therefore, he left.
His Dad struck an immediate deal with him: Karl had two weeks to find a job or go to work with him, on a boat, as a fisherman. A suit was duly purchased from Burton’s and the clock started ticking.
That early streak of entrepreneurial determination quickly kicked in and Karl knocked on hundreds of doors in the space of a few days before being offered two jobs: one as a car mechanic and the other as a fixer of photocopiers.
His future boss summed up his options with a simple choice: “You can be a car mechanic anytime but when will you next have a chance to fix copiers?”
And so the seed was sown. Karl started work within a couple of days and his boss would provide a tank of petrol for him, every week, to help top up his wages. That was back in 1995 and, at the age of 18, he had a company car, a phone card (to call the office from phone boxes having been paged on a bleeper) and a van full of service manuals. Gone today are the bleepers and the need to carry around manuals as laptops and mobile phones provide instant access to the internet for information.
A lot of things may have changed over the past 21 years but the crux of providing a quality service for the client has always remained at the top of Karl’s list of priorities and is still his number one aim.
“One of our clients, an hotelier, found their copier had broken at Christmas and so I went to fix it on Boxing Day.”
“I even took the family along with me as it’s important to always put the customer first – plus it gave time for the daughter and me to have a walk on the nearby beach. It certainly made Christmas different and fun!”
When away from the office, family is a key focus for Karl. That all important work life balance sees him cycling, taking caravan holidays with his family (an important memory from his childhood) and even indulging in making cupcakes. “There’s more to life than just work,” says Karl. “The key is achieving the right balance, otherwise you get tired and your brain doesn’t work in the same way which then clouds your judgement.”
Karl and the teams’ judgement remains razor sharp with the company doubling its size in a space of 18 months with its total responsibility growing to cover some 600 machines over Devon and Cornwall.
The success comes from nurturing clients. He has a desire to look after the small client to help them grow, and so he embraces their entrepreneurial spirit.
The result has been expansion for PCS and there’s also a lot for the team to plan towards this year as they move into new premises in Estover – which is purpose built for their equipment needs.
Supporting local firms as they grow is a key part of Karl’s philosophy and its success means having the right team in place – a group of people who are 100% trustworthy and who are also dedicated to the business. He met one of his account managers, George, when delivering pizzas and Karl’s sister answers phones in the office.
“It’s all about having the right people in the right place at the right time. It’s not one person who makes the business but the team that you put together. It’s down to the trust which we share between ourselves, without each other then we would not have a business. Team work really is the key to success.”
“If you can’t do something, then go out and work with someone who can. I believe that’s why we have been doing well. After all, if we were all good at doing everything then it would be a boring world!”
Listening to Karl, OM is finding much of what he says to be inspirational. Printing may be a far cry from dreams of the Royal Navy or the possibility of working on his Dad’s boat but it’s clear that his decision to opt for printers over mechanics was a winner.
Towards the end of the interview, Karl provides a number of snippets which really do give a good snapshot into what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. A lot of it is down to having that all important positive mental attitude towards life.
“If you only put in 50% then you won’t enjoy it but it can be enjoyable if you put in 100% then you make it what you want it to be. I think I have quite a laid back attitude and see everything as an opportunity – so I guess my glass isn’t just half full, it’s, well, three quarters full.”
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Print Copy Scan Ltd. Wixenford Farm, Plymstock, Plymouth PL9 8AA