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Mt Maunganui business tackling recession head-on
04 Aug, 2009

A Mt Maunganui-based family business has decided that the best way to survive the current recession is not by sitting still, but by driving forward, exploring new opportunities and investigating new technology.

Textiles Alive is a textile signage company producing flags and other textile promotional material for businesses, designers and advertising agencies around New Zealand.

They are responsible for the eye-catching Whetu flags that adorned power poles across Wellington for the 2009 Wellington 7s competition, and have won awards for many other products, including the 2007 World of Wearable Arts banners.

Textiles Alive is one of just a few such companies in New Zealand, and is the only company in New Zealand using a TexPress machine which utilises a direct-to-fabric digital printing process, permanently infusing water/vegetable based dye at a controlled high temperature into fabric.

But not content to simply sit back and ride out the recession, father and son team Wayne and John Heyworth have decided to approach the recession assertively, aggressively looking for new opportunities, and investigating new leading edge technology from Europe.

The pair have just returned from a ten-day business trip to the world's largest printing trade fair in Amsterdam, Fespa Digital Europe 09. There were a handful of New Zealand companies exhibiting at the show, however, Textiles Alive was the only kiwi company visiting the show as potential buyers.

"Fespa was an important investment for us. Even though things are tight, we see the current economic environment as an opportunity to actually grow our business," says director John Heyworth.

"There were more than 300 international exhibitors, many who were showcasing new leading edge products and technologies. As a result, we were amongst the first to check out some of these breakthrough innovations and we're already investigating how we can incorporate some of these elements into our own business," he says.

"We are a leading edge business and that's how we want to be seen by our customers. We need to be able to provide leading edge technology that delivers an exceptional product that helps set them apart.

"Some of the products and technology coming out of countries like Italy and Germany are light years ahead of everyone else.

"That technology will be standard practice in about four years time, but we don't want to wait that long. We're keen to explore those innovations now, to help us and our clients stay ahead of the competition."

Mr Heyworth says the business' strategy is to always try and stay ahead of the game, and while an expensive new press is not planned for this current financial year, the team are exploring other ways of bringing new technology to the business.

"An important part of our trip to Amsterdam was forging new alliances with the major global players. We met with a number of very large companies who are acknowledged as being the leaders in the digital printing field.

"We will look to continue to work with them over the coming months to cement those partnerships to help our business."

Mr Heyworth says another clear trend at Fespa was the increase in environmental awareness in the printing industry.

"Managing our business in an environmentally responsible way has always been a key part of Textiles Alive, so we were delighted to see other major international companies taking it as seriously as we do. This is an area that will continue to grow in importance for clients as they make their supplier decisions."

Mr Heyworth says Textiles Alive plans to attend the next Fespa trade show which will be held in Germany in 2010.

"While it is a major investment for us to attend, it is simply too important not to if we want to stay ahead of the competition."

Textiles Alive is a family business in Mt Maunganui. It is a wholesale business, mainly supplying the design and signage industries, and producing everything from flags and banners, to marquee covers and tailor made internal fabric displays.

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