The history of Snap is a long and proud one. From humble beginnings in 1899 under the name Caxton Print, then in 1903 as The Imperial Printing Company, to the pioneering Stan Watt discovering instant print in the U.S. in 1966, our credentials in print are unrivalled in Australia. In fact, we have always been the largest Australian made, owned and operated print and design network in Australia.
The digital revolution saw a move towards online solutions. And so, in 2007 we began offering products and services designed not only to stimulate print but also to widen our repertoire to include websites and electronic marketing solutions.
At the turn of the century the Watt family migrated from the gold fields of Ballarat to another gold rush in Kalgoorlie and educated their 4 sons in the Kalgoorlie School of Mines. One of the sons, Edwin Stanley Watt, (Stan to all who knew him) became a mineralogist and worked in the Perseverance Mine before he and his brothers were called into service in World War 1.
After serving with distinction in the Middle East, Stan returned to Australia and moved to Perth where in 1926 he bought from his only surviving brother the ‘Imperial Printing Co’, founded in 1903. The business located in King St was the beginning of a long and successful career and a defining moment that marks the origin of Snap Printing as we know it today.
Stan was short in stature but full of drive and commitment in everything he did. He aspired to build his business to provide for his family of 3 and as a result went into substantial debt to build a new factory in Hay St. Survival was hazardous at the time with price cutting rife. So Stan joined the Printers and Allied Trades Employers Association and led the development of sound pricing methods that benefited the whole industry. During his career he served as State and Federal President for this Association seeking to increase industry standards.
Stan was a man of firm ideals. He only employed ex-servicemen; such was his regard for those that served King and Country. His commitment to his staff was well known and during the Depression no staff member was stood down.
Like the generation before, Stan’s eldest son (also named Stanley) served his country flying 123 Kittyhawk mission on the Italian front in World War II. On his return from the war Stanley Junior completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at WA University and went to work in the family business. Stan Jnr was put through the process of learning the trade from machinery to sales before becoming the General Manager of Imperial. Over the next 20 years he grew the business to become one of the most prominent general printers in WA.
Stan Jnr was highly ambitious and something of an academic in areas of management related to the printing industry, and even completed a diploma of management at the Harvard Business School in the USA. In 1966, on a study tour of the US he discovered the new and rapidly expanding concept of ‘instant print’. Through his contacts Stan Jnr brought back the blue prints of the American version to Perth.
The concept recognised that a substantial portion of the business printing needs were black and white imaging, able to be processed cheaply and efficiently on small offset presses with the aid of the new, fast Itek plate maker. Further, this could be taken out of the factory and placed in convenience printing stores close to the client. As a result in 1967 a pilot store was planned for St Georges Terrace, Perth.
At the time a new employee had begun with Imperial - a man called Paddy Thompson. Irish born Paddy had enjoyed a successful career as a senior police officer in Kenya and had left in a changing political environment to make a new home and career in Perth. He became a sales rep for Imperial and was asked by Stan Jnr to lead the development of Snap. From this point Stan Jnr and Paddy grew the Snap business to include 38 company owned branches delivering a common standard of excellence and building Snap as an iconic brand.
In 1979 it was determined that Snap had developed a wealth of knowledge that could be transferred to others through franchising and it was decided to begin the process. Many of the first franchisees were Snap employees who were able to become self-employed within the business they knew.
Snap the franchisor was able to draw on its vast experience in running Centres, as well as the generations of experience within the industry, to develop the Snap Success Systems that would assist franchisees to run their business.
In 1990 the commercial printing division still operating as Imperial Print Company was sold, a difficult decision considering its long history. In that year, another 8 company Centres were franchised leaving 15 remaining. By 1991 only 8 company Centres remained.
Through the 90’s Snap Franchising built further on its services to Master Franchises in Ireland, China and New Zealand. It built strong relationships in the USA becoming part of a global network, with the goal of maintaining industry leadership in Australia.
The sophisticated Snap Centre of today is a far cry from the convenience corner printer of the 60’s, Snap is one of the most recognised brands in Australia with a reputation in its field of quality production and service and a commitment to people.
Snap continues to evolve its franchise model and is building on its reputation for innovation and embracing change through the introduction of new products and services combining the best of traditional print with online marketing solutions.
Imperial Printing image courtesy of State library of WA image 014040PD
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