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Bell calls time on print

Friday, 24 August 2018
By Wayne Robinson

Time to put the feet up: Graham Bell, retiring

Hornet Press founder and former owner Graham Bell is having his last day in print today, after a  career spanning more than half a century.

Bell started in print in 1966 in Watford UK working as an ink quality tester with an ink company that is now part of Sun Chemical, then came to Australia in 1978, and with his wife Sandra established Hornet in 1982 as a bespoke trade printer in Knoxfield, Melbourne.

He sold Hornet, and its offshoot Eastlink Bookbinding which it set up 18 months ago, to John Mandile last year, and has been working as a consultant to the business since then.

Bell says, “Over the past half century print has changed immensely, and it hasn’t changed at all. There are far fewer print businesses, but print production power has magnified, when we put in our A1 Komori Lithrone we took out three existing presses and were still more productive.

“The demand from customers for low prices has stayed the same, and ink still takes time to dry, but the perception from the market is that we can produce print instantly.”

Hornet – named after the Watford premier league soccer club’s nickname – started like many print businesses with a GTO in Bell’s garage. Bell says, “Back when we started that was a significant demand for quality print, which we delivered, and the business has grown ever since on the back of that. We saw a need for a bespoke trade printer, we don’t do gang-up business cards and the like, we focus on quality work, for example 1000 bound PUR books, and work with printers across the state, many in regional areas, up to the border and across to Gippsland.

Hornet currently has 25 full time staff and a number of casuals, running both offset and digital print work. Growth over the years has been both organic and through a number of acquisitions, including Lincoln Press and Combined Reprographics.

Bell’s daughter Kirsty Bell will also be moving on after seven years in estimating and customer service in the company she worked for as a teenager.

As for the future Bell says, “Next week I will be in Port Douglas for some R&R, and after that I have a clean slate. With more than half a century in print I am hopeful that I will find opportunities to be able to give something back to the industry.”

2 Responses to “Bell calls time on print”

  1. August 24, 2018 at 3:47 pm,

    David Lucas

    One of the most gracious men I have had the great pleasure to deal with over my many years in this industry – albeit not for quite some time I’m sad to say.
    Graham, enjoy some quality “you time” with your family in your retirement – you most certainly deserve it.
    Drive carefully, and I hope to catch you for a larger one of these days!

  2. August 24, 2018 at 5:39 pm,

    Mark Dickinson

    It was an honor and immense pleasure to have worked for Graham Bell for over 29 years. He ran a safe, productive happy shop where his office door was always open. We had many long term employees and many long term clients who knew that Grahams word was as good as any contract. I started there in 89 on a GTO and he supported & encouraged me as I worked my way up to the position of Production Manager which i held for 12 years until the sale of the business.
    I know I can speak on behalf of all the Hornet family (from before John Mandile bought and changed the business), when I wish Graham and Sandra a Happy next phase of their lives and thank them so much for what they did for the staff, clients and suppliers alike.
    Cheers “Boss”

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