Managing Director Fred Soar of Soar Printing, a third-generation printing business based in Auckland, has grown his family business from strength to strength. Even with a highly capable and experienced management team around him, Fred recognises the value in working with The Breakthrough Company to gain clarity and accountability.
Soar Print is a complete, end-to-end printing services company, supplying commercial printing to some of New Zealand’s leading companies. We use the latest printing technologies to deliver the best possible results for our clients. We are industry leaders in minimising our environmental impact and we are committed to serving not-for-profits in our community.
The business was reaching the stage where I needed to work more on the systems of the company than doing the technical jobs to take it to that next level. I was bringing in most of the sales and trying to manage the company at the same time. I was the bottleneck because everything came through me so I was the constraint, and I didn’t have much time for my family due to my work schedule. I envisioned that if these issues were left unresolved, then the business would reach as large as it could go due to my limited resources and missed opportunities.
Achievements with the programme
I met Mike through my business coach in the 1990s and I’ve been involved with Mike ever since. Prior to running the family business, I worked for about five years in corporate. When you’re your own boss and you lose that direction and critique from above, it can be very lonely. My aim for joining the programme was to get more advice and more clarity about what I was doing.
Three years ago, I encouraged three of my staff to join the course: one of the directors and two of our key staff. This benefited the business because they understood where I was coming from and we were able to align our visions. My staff look forward to the day out of the office and they come back motivated. They’ve developed good networks with their action groups. It gives us all is an open mind and the ability to change the way that we do business, and not get stuck in a rut. We’re after sustainability and longevity, which in the print industry is difficult and it’s important that we find and embrace the challenges and changes. And having a team that’s dynamic and understands that is what helps us get through it.
The Challenger Programme makes me accountable. It’s set up in such a way that I’m setting goals and measuring myself against those goals. We meet every three months and get realigned with the goals, take the time to look from the outside in and get clarity on where I’m going.
Mike is a business coach with practical experience who will challenge your thinking. And he is fun to work with. Mike himself has good business experience and knowledge and can offer pragmatic advice on many areas of the business. The group of other companies that are involved in the programme is similar to mine, and apart from providing me with leads for new business, they’re a great bunch of people to bounce ideas off. It’s a good forum to discuss the latest business trends and innovations in the workplace, and to keep abreast of the changes and how other people are managing their businesses.
There was one acquisition that I did in 2005 that gave us critical mass and had an incredibly good payback, and Mike’s advice gave me the confidence to go ahead with it.
My advice to others is: make sure you’re part of a network because a network will provide you with financial benefits, as well as inspiration and advice. Don’t focus on one particular business strength, for example marketing or human resources, but rather find something that encompasses all the facets of running a business.