PrintIT Reseller caught up with Mark Smyth, Operations Director at Vision, to learn more about the company’s growth plans
Established in 1985 as a managed print services provider, Vision has continually reshaped and expanded its business so that it now encompasses managed print, document management, IT services, office supplies and unified communications.
In 2013, Vision overhauled its business and repositioned its go-to-market strategy to target larger corporates and public sector organisations in a number of key vertical markets including the higher education, healthcare, legal, financial, retail, manufacturing and transportation sectors.
This strategy has been hugely successful, resulting in double-digit growth for three straight years. Revenue increased by 42% in 2013, 21% in 2014 and 10% last year.
Smyth told PITR that this growth has largely been organic. “It’s the result of a lot of hard work and a number of major new national wins within both the public and private sectors in line with our fresh approach,” he said.
As an example, Smyth cites Vision’s recent appointment as sole MPS provider for a University in the north of England. In this capacity, it deployed a fleet of 400 devices across 13 sites in just 63 days, with professional project management by Prince2 practitioners.
Vision has also secured contracts with several large NHS Trusts involving the installation of devices and software solutions at multiple sites and locations.
Investing for growth
In a tough economic climate, Smyth remains positive about further expansion and believes Vision is in a strong position to take advantage of future opportunities. The company is two years into a five-year plan to double in size by 2020. In FY2016 alone, the firm is targeting growth of 26%.
“We have invested heavily in people over the past twelve months, strengthening the business by creating a new senior management team to drive and support our continued growth,” explained Smyth.
Last year, Vision strengthened the group with a wave of senior appointments including a new Head of Strategic Corporate Clients with over 20 years’ industry experience to support its push into the corporate sector; a Head of Service Delivery; a Head of Enterprises; and, more recently, a Head of Billing and Contract Set-up.
“We also hired a Head of Telecommunications, with a brief to strengthen and drive growth within our unified comms and telecoms division,” added Smyth.
The recruitment drive is set to continue this year. Already, Vision has appointed a Talent Acquisition Manager to manage a project to source high calibre sales and business development professionals to join its Academy Training Program.
“Headcount is fast approaching 200 and we’re looking to significantly increase that,” said Smyth. “We intend to really boost our sales teams nationwide and are looking for strong professionals with a proven track record in the corporate and commercial sectors to support the business moving forward.”
He added: “Our customer mantra is to drive business efficiency and simplify operations, improve their working environment and boost productivity. As a business, we are wholly focused on customer service delivery and service excellence. Every member of our team has a key role to play in ensuring we meet and exceed customers’ needs and expectations.”
This includes Vision’s nationwide team of field-based technicians and network specialists whose processes are fully accredited to the ISO 9001:2008 quality management standard.
One of Vision’s strengths is that it can also support clients with European offices. “We have partnered with a number of vendors in Europe and call on that resource and expertise to enable us to service and support UK-based clients who also have a European presence,” explained Smyth.
Vision’s core business remains the provision of managed print and document solutions. It has partnerships with Canon, Samsung and Ricoh and offers a complete suite of market leading open architecture software solutions including eCopy, Equitrac and Papercut, as well as Canon’s own uniFLOW print management and scan solution. The company recently added Autostore and DocuWare to its portfolio.
In addition, with support from Canon and Ricoh, it has ramped up its production print business, which Smyth has identified as an important growth area. “We have enjoyed substantial successes in this space in the last two years and we are targeting a significant increase again this year as part of our business plan,” he said.
The environment in mind
Smyth says that Vision is passionate about the environment and actively promotes initiatives that support its own green agenda as well as those of its clients.
In line with the group’s Environmental Management System ISO14001:2004, it has integrated GPS route planning for all mobile technicians, resulting in reduced travel time, lower fuel consumption and improved response and service delivery to customers. To help customers reduce the environmental impact of their paper use, it has introduced PrintReleaf, which monitors paper consumption and mitigates its impact by planting trees through a global network of reforestation projects.
The firm’s Hertfordshire headquarters houses its sales, finance and administration functions, as well as a client services centre and conference facilities. A logistics centre is located nearby. Vision also has regional offices in London and Rotherham and a number of smaller regional hubs.
Smyth told PITR that there are plans to increase Vision’s presence nationwide and that a new base in the south-west is on the cards.
“We also have a number of potential target acquisitions in sight and see part of our future growth coming from this route,” he said. “Other important impacts of acquiring businesses with a good fit and in the right location are the people and the ability to expand our regional footprint.” He added: “We are very receptive to engaging with dealerships and opening a conversation to explore the potential in joining forces.”
Recognised for excellence
Vision’s success has brought accolades from organisations both within and outside the industry. In March, it was named as one of London Stock Exchange’s 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain. To be included on the list of the UK’s fastest growing and most dynamic companies, a business must show consistent revenue growth over a minimum of three years and significantly outperform its industry peers.
Vision has also been a finalist in the Public Sector GO awards for two years running; a finalist and former winner of the IT Europa Managed Service Excellence Awards; and, as Samsung’s leading partner, has won awards for Partner of the Year, Innovation Partner of the Year and Capital Partner of the Year.
“Our success has largely been determined by our strong commitment to service excellence and customer service,” said Smyth. “We are proud to claim we are a customer-centric business and part of that involves us engaging with existing and potential customers face-to-face at exclusive events we organise.”
Over the years, Vision has hosted a number of customer events, often with the support of vendor partners Canon and Ricoh. In addition to solutions-themed events on partners’ premises, Vision has held production print events at specialist production facilities where customers from the production print market have been able to learn more about the companies’ digital presses and print solutions..
“The feedback we receive from these events is very encouraging,” said Smyth. “Customer feedback suggests they really enjoy them and are a great forum to learn something new and network within our sector.”