Keeping it in the family - Image Magazine

 

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Keeping it in the family

Keeping it in the family

This article first appeared in the June issue of Textile Image Magazine

Materialised is one of Australia’s leading suppliers of textiles and wall coverings for commercial projects in Hospitality, Health, Education, Theatres and Defence. Whilst the focus is on performance fabrics, including flame retardancy, high abrasion resistance and acoustic absorption, more than 50% of their business is customised product, often digitally printed. Textile Image Magazine sat down with Bindi and Matt Price to learn more about Materialised and what it takes to run a family-owned business.

Materialised was founded by Gary Price forty years ago in Sydney. “Gary was originally planning on going to agricultural college, but circumstances saw him land a job at the local curtain retailer in the interim. He must have had some affinity because at the tender age of 17 he was managing their branch store at Cronulla, and the rest is history. Whilst we have design studios throughout Australia and New Zealand, we are proud to say, our print production is 100% Australian Made coming from our Blakehurst facility,” explains Bindi.

Growing up in the family business Bindi and Matt were exposed to the industry from a very young age. Bindi did a textile course at Strathfield TAFE, which gave her insight into how textiles are created; she then joined the family business and has been learning on the job ever since. Matt is a cabinet maker by trade who joined the company about 27 years ago. These days Gary plays more an ambassadorial role and spends time investigating innovations and trends. Bindi is responsible for sales and marketing, and Matt looks after production and the printing technology required to underpin the growth of the business.

“In the beginning, we were only wholesaling fabrics, and any printing was out-sourced. This arrangement proved to be unreliable, so we decided to bring it in house. Gary bought two second hand Lemaire calendars from National Textiles on which we ‘transferred’ imported transfer paper, and in 1999 we started investing in digital printing equipment.

These days we run three MS digital dye sublimation printers, four transfer calendars and have just recently invested in a 3m Monti Antonio calendar from Pozitive Sign and Graphic Supplies. The Monto Antonio requires less of the operators time to run, takes up less space and uses significantly less power. We have a total printing capacity in excess of 1,000,000m per year, making us arguably the biggest and most modern facility in our part of the world.”

“We have a strong focus on sustainability highlighted by the fact that we print on-demand with short lead times, we do not speculate, and warehouse stock that we hope will sell. A very wasteful and inefficient business model. "Our designers work closely with our customers to create products that are fit for purpose and to avoid having to be replaced prematurely.

"In every respect we endeavour to tread lightly on the planet. Where possible we use recycled yarn, and we recycle all our spent transfer paper. Clear plastic packaging waste is separated, compacted to be re-constituted as backing for carpet underlay. 'We compact and recycle our cardboard, enabling a waste reduction of more than 60%."

Materialised has a policy of never sending remnants to landfill. Remnants, discontinued patterns and obsolete samples are donated to charities, schools and craft groups. Preference is given to organisations making some article of use and helping train unemployed youth in developing employable skills. These include programs such as “Darwin Community Arts”, which organises free weekly sewing and textile craft events for women of diverse cultures and abilities. Other beneficiaries include “The Beauty Bank”, which makes gift bags filled with toiletry and hygiene products for people who have left a domestic violence situation or are experiencing hardship,” explains Matt.

“When it comes to customers, we generally work with interior designers and architects as well as furniture and drapery manufacturers. One of the biggest trends we see is designs appearing all throughout a room, on walls, on furniture and on bedheads. Because of the amazing capability in digital printing, designers now realise that they can turn their vision into reality without the previous constraint of big production minimums. There was a time that print was not popular, and minimalism was everywhere. We are glad to see a shift because I believe that design and colour can certainly make a difference to how people feel,” says Bindi. “This trend has also enabled us to bring to market a new range of feature walls using HP Latex equipment to print directly onto wall vinyl which, is more durable than wallpaper.” "We have also developed a new product called Whisper Wall, which consists of custom printed fabric stretched over a polyester pad for use in the management of acoustics and feature walls in shop fit-outs.”

 “One of the biggest things to come out of COVID was that we really needed to look at how we could communicate with our clients when we couldn’t visit them. This was exciting because we had the opportunity to really look at how we did things and how we could do it better. Our clients always want to see actual samples, so that was a challenge, but we have really worked hard on our website to have it almost function like a sales representative.”

 “We are the exclusive licensee in Australia/NZ of WeaveUp, which is a tool that enables designers to select, customise and even create printed textile designs. "This web-based design library hosts tens of thousands of designs from textile designers and artists worldwide. WeaveUp offers direct access to the design community, the designers and their designs. Logging on and customising colour, scale and repeat, Materialised then print and ship an exact sample within 48 hours, reducing waste that comes from multiple samples. The fact that it pays the original designer a royalty for the use of their work is also a positive.”

"When it comes to values, from the outset, the company has had a purpose to ‘make a difference by doing things differently’… Questioning the status quo, in the belief that most things can be improved. "As a family-owned business, we are fortunate to have been able to all work together. We sometimes have different ideas, but I believe overall, we are on the same page. I think that is because we each bring something unique to the business, and we are not competing. "Transitioning a business from one generation to another does not happen overnight; it takes time. We are very fortunate to have a fantastic team of people, many of whom have been with us for 15 to 20 years or more. "Having key people in clearly defined roles who drive and inspire us enables us individually to do what we do best. It is key to our success and stands us in excellent stead to achieve our plans for growth in the future," concludes Bindi.

 

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