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Businesses underwater after floods

How MBE South Brisbane bounced back from disaster

In January 2011, MBE South Brisbane suffered extensive water damage to its operations during widespread flooding of the city. On the anniversary of the floods, the digital print business is back to business as usual and owner Paul Stenhouse writes that he’s again hopeful about the future, thanks to hard work and continued support from main supplier Fuji Xerox Australia.

When the Brisbane River burst its banks last January, MBE South Brisbane had little left to cling on to. As one of the city’s fast-growing print businesses, we had big plans for expansion and growth in the services and volume we could offer. In the wake of the floods, those plans looked like wishful thinking. We never imagined that exactly one year on, we would be back on track to achieving business goals.

When the floodwaters hit, the business ended up with about 40 centimetres of water flooding the premises, leaving us with no printing equipment and virtually no records. Our insurance wouldn’t pay for anything, and once we factored in clean-up costs we were looking at around half a million dollars worth of losses. Our business in Fortitude Valley had survived the floods, but we needed to get the South Brisbane business back to speed if we were to stay operational.

Devastating as they were, the floods turned out to be an opportunity as well. We had recently purchased a 700 Digital Color Press from Fuji Xerox Australia, but we had also seen the higher-spec Color 1000 Press and thought it would be a good upgrade further down the track. We talked to our supplier and after we told them our business requirements they suggested a higher-spec purchase might help us recover faster. It was a risk, especially with the debts taken on as a result of the flood, but it had the potential to quickly turn around our situation.

We ended up purchasing the Color 1000 Press and a 4112 black-and-white printer, allowing us to bring a lot of outsourced work back in-house thanks to more economical and efficient longer run lengths. Since installing the machines in April last year, we have had more than a million impressions on each machine; most of the work is automated, meaning we haven’t had to add to the two staff we currently employ. We have also added finishing and high-quality colour to our service range, both of which serve as valuable points of difference from our competition. Our solid base of customers is rapidly returning, and our new services, like Clear Dry Ink finishing which we currently market under the slogan Completely Clear, are helping us gain traction in new markets.

More than just providing hardware and systems, Fuji Xerox Australia gave us the encouragement and calculated advice needed for MBE South Brisbane to get back on track. The company made sure it understood our particular situation and came up with a solution which not only helped us recover but put us in good stead for future growth.

Their encouragement and calculated approach made us confident we could do it; staff even helped with cleaning up our offices after the flood. At the end of the day, the disaster showed us that how you treat your customers will inevitably set your business apart from the rest of the competition. The customer service we received from Fuji Xerox Australia helped us emerge from a natural disaster and grasp a man-made opportunity.

Was your business affected by the flooding in Queensland last year? How have you recovered?