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Interview With The Experts



Celebrating 60 Years - Interview With The Experts

Owners Dylan Westgate and Michael Steele sit down to talk about their new goals for the company and how Sydney Stone manages to maintain a 60 year legacy.

Michael and Dylan of Sydney Stone

Why buy Sydney Stone?

Westgate: We purchased Sydney Stone because (with our experience working at the company) we saw our customers wanting in certain areas. We felt Sydney Stone came with a lot of opportunity, a 60 year old company with a great base of customers and a dealership full of world leading products in our segment. The company had the ability to continually attract and support the leading world products in Canada and in doing so, provide a great resource for the printers of Canada.

The new slogan, Giving Meaning To Expertise -what does that mean?

Steele: Giving Meaning to Expertise is not only what we currently stand for but is also part of the long history of this company and is very much related to what Sydney Stone himself emulated. He was known for travelling the world to find unique and exclusive equipment that he could import into Canada to sell and service. To do this, he was an absolute expert in not only the finishing processes but also on the print side as well. Our customers today really require that, they need to have a professional salesperson work with them from the start of their process to the finish of their process to achieve a successful conclusion. I really think that today's salesperson has to be an expert, without that, customer's are not able to weave their way through the huge amount of choices out there. The salesperson has to ask the right questions and analyze the customer's workflow, only then will they be able to narrow down which machine works best for their applications.

What have you changed since owning Sydney Stone?

Westgate: Michael and I believe in a company constantly evolving; we analyze what seems to be working and challenge what is not working. Some of the key things we have changed are the website, which was completely overhauled a year and a half ago. It now offers a more functional environment for our customers to research our products and place orders. However the largest change is within our service department. I now manage our team of service technicians, each of which is factory trained on all of our product lines. As a team, we have such great momentum right now in helping out our customers. It may sound simple but we expect to technically support all of our installations and customers from the installation date forward. As a group, we have worked to increase our knowledge and skill set. We ensure that we have parts in stock so we can take them on service calls in the effort to get our customers up and running.

Steele: Service has changed dramatically, even from the sales perspective. The company that we built is really supporting the sale of new and used equipment, so a machine that's sold today at Sydney Stone gets a very comprehensive warranty. The service module is changing and customers have been big supporters of our service contracts, which not only provide comprehensive parts and labour warranty but can also be used for re-training. Customers are now very comfortable with service costs at a small monthly payment.What have you changed since owning Sydney Stone?

What does the future hold for you and what can your customers expect in the future?

Steele: The way we sell machines is going to be different. The future will have a lot more interaction through different forms of media. The website already has a fantastic resource section where customers can go to. We’re already doing demonstrations that are recorded in our showroom and then uploaded for customers. So if you’re calling from an area of the country where you can’t visit our showroom, you can send us samples and we’ll show you how your specific application is going to work with a machine. Things like that are making the country smaller; customers are able to feel a level of comfort from dealership that’s not next door.

Westgate:  I can see our customers moving their equipment to being more and more automated. The automation available is on everything from cutting to folding to bookeltmaking, it’s really impressive. The benefits of automation are that printers can change jobs  faster, which is essential in a world where runs are shorter but more frequent. Also, automation means more operators are able to run equipment, making your business more efficient by not having only one operator being able to run a machine.

“I really think today’s sales person has to be an expert, without that, they’re not able weave their way through the huge amount of choice out there...”

How does reconditioned equipment fit into the mix?

Steele: The reconditioned side of the business is growing and plays a very important role. We know that not every customer will be a prospect for a new machine and our reconditioned equipment offers a very viable option for many. Our reconditioned level is extremely high and with an included warranty, it is over and above what the competition is currently able to offer. In fact, I think we are one of the few companies in North America that specialize in the reconditioning of small format finishing equipment. Along with a quality product, the ability for Sydney Stone to trade-in your existing machine offers huge incentive for those customers who need value for their current assets in order to make the financial leap to buying a new or reconditioned machine. We really focus on the brands that we sell, so if you are looking for a rebuild Morgana air-feed folder, EBA or Triumph paper cutter or a Duplo bookletmaking system, then Sydney Stone is the logical choice for you as we search the market for the best machines.

Other than equipment, what can you say about your other products?

Westgate: Parts go hand in hand with the selling of the equipment and the service. If were not able to provide the services then we’re not able to supply the parts. We stock a hundred thousand dollars worth in parts in our building and our technicians are able to [when servicing those who call] grab the part they need and go and fix the machine instantaneously. If we don’t have a part we order it to arrive as soon as possible.  That’s unbelievably valuable for our customers.

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