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‘30 years of my life gone’: Panther MD

Friday, 03 August 2018
By Graham Osborne
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Greg Beech at Panther Print.

Greg Beech, owner of liquidated Brisbane offset house Panther Print Group, says low margins in a shrinking market finally forced him to close the doors after 30 years in business.

“It’s been a struggle since the GFC and I don’t think I was the only one struggling,” says Beech, who contacted Print21 to tell his side of the story. “I didn’t want to be seen as one of those guys that shuts down and runs away.

“I feel bad that I haven’t paid the paper guys, Direct, Doggett’s and Vital. I was hoping to pay them but there was just no money left at the end. Within the trade, they’re the ones that got hurt. My wife and myself have put a lot of money into this company over the years and we decided we just couldn’t do it anymore. I had limited funds and had to make a decision.

“I’ve paid off all the smaller guys, the mum and dad businesses, and my biggest concern was my staff,” Beech says. “I’d already sold most of the machinery and recently sold the client base and used those funds to pay off staff super. There should be no staff super outstanding at the end of this process.”

Beech says the loss of a major packaging contract was the final straw.

“I tried to change the Panther business a couple of years ago and bought a bigger press and signed a large one-year contract to print packaging, which I hoped would continue and transition into larger sheet work. But that never happened and then we lost the packaging job.

“We were doing a mixture of small jobbing work and small run colour jobs but it’s a very tough market with low pricing and I wasn’t willing to drop to those cheaper prices because it was just untenable. With low margins in a shrinking market, you get a few people who don’t pay or don’t pay on time and there’s nothing left in the tank. I gave it a shot but I couldn’t do it.

“In the end, I was left with just a guillotine and a few bits and pieces. Certainly, 30 years of my life is gone and there’s not much left at the end of it. To tell you the truth, I’m renting a house right now.”

Panther Print, Stone St, Stafford.

Panther Print – based at Stafford, a northern Brisbane suburb, was once an established offset commercial printer, running Heidelberg one, two and five colour presses.

Beech last week decided to wind up the business and appoint liquidator Bill Cotter of Robson Cotter Insolvency Group. Major creditors include paper companies Direct Paper, Ball & Doggett’s and Vital Paper.

Ten staff members, some with more than 20 years of service, lost their jobs. Four of them have been employed by another Brisbane printer, one has secured part-time work and another has found work outside the industry.

Beech says he’s not sure where he’s headed next.

“At this point in time, I could care less if I never smelled ink or saw a printing press again in my life, but I’m 55 and I need to re-evaluate. I have a lot of friends in the industry up here and something might come along in a month’s time. Printing is all I’ve done in my life so I’m not sure what else I could do.”

A creditors’ meeting is expected to be announced shortly.

 

 

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