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‘There but for the grace’… reflections by a Melbourne printer on losing of his business.

Wednesday, 05 April 2017
By Anonymous

The collapse of your company, something that you have put your heart and soul into, as well as 60 to 70 hours a week for over 20 years, unleashes a myriad of feelings and emotions.

First there is the depression of losing what has been your ‘baby.’ Something that you were so proud of, something that you nurtured from its infancy, something that you watched with pride as it grew employing many new staff,

Then it is gone!

The administrator says thanks but we don’t need anything more from you. You go home and then what? You feel you have let down your staff, some of whom have worked with you for over 20 years; your suppliers, many of whom have become ‘friends’; as well as your family and lastly yourself.

Your dreams are gone!

Once you have got over the initial shock and managed to partially drag yourself out of the very dark place you found yourself in, you start to think ‘what am I going to do now? The only thing I know is the printing industry.’

You are over 60 and it’s too late to start again, and with all the vitriol that has been going around about your failure, nobody in the industry wants to know you. Your ‘friends’ have disappeared completely. Whether they were staff, suppliers, accountants or just acquaintances, the phone is dead. There is nobody who wants to give you a pat on the back and say everything will be OK, no calls to say how about doing some work with us? Not even a quick call to see how you are going.


You sit back worrying where you are going to get money to put food on the table at the same time as the bills and demands pile up. It can take years for the fallout to be finished. Gradually you can see a path ahead, but that path doesn’t include any of your old friends.

So before you all jump into the feeding frenzy of picking over the corpse of one who stood among you for many years, think … ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’


9 Responses to “‘There but for the grace’… reflections by a Melbourne printer on losing of his business.”

  1. April 04, 2017 at 3:10 pm,

    Michael Loh

    Nice. No point nor reward for pushing another to a “dark” place.

  2. April 05, 2017 at 1:40 pm,


    I think we might all know someone who has gone or is going through this at some stage, don’t be that “friend” who suddenly doesn’t ring or call in for a coffee, no one is too busy that we cant find 5 minutes.

  3. April 05, 2017 at 4:04 pm,


    This is a sad account and yes these people need friends and to be heard.

    However, with planning for an exit, bringing younger minds and bodies in and capitalising on both parties strengths, this could be avoided and there could be a happier account!

    I seem to remember Richard Rassmussen writing these very words on this site not long ago. I am happy to discuss with anyone who is at the crossroads and looking for a graceful exit into retirement that everyone who has worked in the industry deserves.

  4. April 05, 2017 at 5:16 pm,


    Sadder for the people these guys rip off on their way down.

    Maybe they’re not returning your calls because you’ve taken money from their family’s table? Or hurt the viability their business? Or betrayed their trust in any other number of ways?

    Losing a business must be hard no doubt, but it’s no mystery why these guys are pariahs.

  5. April 06, 2017 at 9:39 am,


    Generalistic and completely unfair Banksy. Yes, there are some who ‘rip off’ and are ‘pariahs’ but I have personally seen circumstances that are tragic where the owner has used up all their own assets including house before administrators are called in. How about the paper company that took a good man’s house because he had signed a director’s guarantee? Wife, 2 kids, one more on the way, dog everything. Same paper company wanted to keep supplying Geon after the sharks tried to phoenix it.
    So get off your high horse mate and look at each case on its merits.

  6. April 06, 2017 at 11:49 am,


    Yeah it could happen to any of us and yeah it’s happened to some people who were trying to do the right thing, but that doesn’t mean they get off the hook.

    The guy you mentioned signed the director’s guarantee and was happy to enjoy the benefit of it when times were good – he can’t complain when the bill comes due.

    And so they should pour all their assets into it. They don’t get a medal for that. Those assets go to paying off the people they own money to, including the paper companies.

    The paper companies have their own commitments to pay too don’t forget. And remember every dollar that the paper companies lose to someone who shouldn’t have been running a business in the first place get’s billed to you and me through higher paper prices.

    These guys deserve normal human compassion – I’d hate to be in their shoes. But for this bloke to complain about people not wanting anything to do with him is a bit rich – he’s taking about “staff, suppliers, accountants”, people who in all likelihood he owes money to. You want to sit down with someone who didn’t pay your super, or owes you money for some work? Get real.

  7. April 06, 2017 at 12:18 pm,

    Comrade Dave

    Its a hard gig running any sort of business these day’s – no easy money is around.
    I have just had a customer go bust with a 15k debt.
    I saw it coming so stopped doing anymore work for him.
    He had all the excuses/reasons on why I should carry on supplying him with print…..but I said no.

    I would say he was a con man and not a good sort, but sometimes you have to start out with mutual trust.

    Some business owners really do give it everything and yet no matter what they do, nothing seems to work. Not in today’s print landscape anyway, everything has now changed.
    I personally have sympathy for these business owners, as I think most people want to and try and do the right thing. its just, you do get a few bad eggs, which stuff it up for the good ones.

    That said I think as business owners we all have a responsibility to look at our business and ask the hard questions.
    I know I did with mine and realised I had to change as the buck stops with me.

    Not sure people like future print really have the answers, but that’s my take on it.
    Just because you have some top guys from various parts of the industry with all this experience and knowledge that they have for big business.
    It does not necessarily translate to having the answers on running a business now and one that works in the future.

    I would like to see them have ago though, they may surprise me.

  8. April 06, 2017 at 2:04 pm,


    Banksy – Just for the record, I have personally written off or forgiven several industry debts over the past 3 decades, and am still friendly with a couple of them. S**t happens and we do not improve as a society by using money as the sole arbiter of a person’s worth. It hurts to lose money on a deal but it hurts more to lose a life. The worst debtor in the country is the Federal government, remember! $164 billion or 11% of GDP at last count. It’s bad enough to go down the gurgler without someone pouring caustic chemicals to follow. If your Darwinian world suits you, fine but maybe think how you would like to be treated should misfortune befall you – which I trust it won’t.

  9. April 10, 2017 at 3:06 pm,


    Well said and encouraging to see that there remains some humility in our industry.

    The invisible people whom are all to quick to jump on the band wagon and kick those that are down, should remind themselves that it could be them one day! (known rogues apart of course).

    The phrase of “to walk in another man shoes…etc” applies to these comments.

    There are few that are prepared take the risk of owning a printing company forgotten by most, even those supposed friends, when things don’t work out.

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