How to stay in business for 25 years (or more!)

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February 6, 2020

There are more than 2.3 million businesses operating in Australia today*.

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Starting a business starts with the promise of ‘firing the boss’, pursuing your dreams on your terms, and maybe even rolling in cash because of your million-dollar idea.

But the real challenge in business isn’t getting started. It’s staying in business over a long period of time. The odds are against you - in Australia, more than 60 per cent of small businesses stop their operation within the first three years*.

It takes a special kind of company to stay (and thrive!) in business for 25 years, and DMC Group is proud to celebrate 25 years in 2020. It’s not always been easy - industry shake-ups, new technologies, and evolving business needs have kept DMC Group on their toes to stay at the forefront of service delivery.

Here’s how DMC Group has done it.  

Built to last

As the famous Zig Ziglar saying goes… Money isn’t everything, but it ranks right up there with oxygen”.  But money cannot be the sole reason for a business’s existence if you’re looking for longevity. Sure, if you want to build up to sell up, it’s a great motivation - a business needs to have good financials for it to stack up to an investor.

But at the core of a long-standing business is heart, and purpose. If you’re passionate about your business and why you’re doing it, you’ll have greater goals for the future, and the strength to last through the tough times.

And for the founders of DMC Group, nothing is more important than family, and leaving a legacy for them long into the future.

“When we started the business, it was for our families,” says Craig Rodda, Managing Director and one of the three founders of the company. “We knew that we wanted to set up a business that would not only support our families, but allow us to be present with our families, and to leave a legacy for them to take into their futures.”

Team is family

And at DMC Group, family also means ‘team’. A strong team-culture within the DMC Group organisation has not only allowed DMC to develop and retain its talent, but also to build a real sense of team and community within. “Our team are our extended family, and we’ve aimed to create a culture of hard work alongside flexibility, to meet the needs of our families at home, while supporting our family at work,” says Craig.

“Many of our team have been here for a long time, and on average, our team members stay with us for over 10 years,” says Craig. This compares with the average Australian tenure in a job of 3.3 years#.  “We are genuinely proud of how we’ve been able to develop our staff along with the evolving needs of the clients. It means we get to build real friendships, we get to watch their kids grow into adults, and in a business environment, we know we have all got each other’s back.”  

25 years on, the company still holds family values as a high priority, along with a strong work ethic and a dedication to getting great results. “We have achieved so much because we are always looking at ways to improve the lives of the people we work with - from making it easier to do their work, through to giving back to the businesses we work with, and our internal teams and communities,” says Craig.

Active in our communities

DMC Group has been actively involved in community sport, not only because of the founders’ passion for all types of sport, but also to give back to the communities in which DMC Group has thrived. The DMC Group founders have always loved sport, from grassroots to professional, so being involved commercially with sport was always apparent. DMC Group were a sponsor of the Melbourne Storm in its inaugural year, and other relationships formed at a grassroots level for both football and basketball.

“I also love motorsport, so naturally, DMC Group also ventured into motorsport, too,” says Craig. “In 1997, I acquired a NASCAR from the United States to go racing at the Bob Jane built Calder Thunderdome, which was a dream of mine for many years. And yes, we had a lot of fun along the way, but we also developed some strong business relationships, including with Bob Jane T-Marts, who are still to this day, one of our ongoing clients.”

Reflect on the past, project the future

“We never doubted that we would be around for the long term; and as a result, we knew that we needed to not simply change with our market environment, but to evolve,” says Craig.

DMC Group was founded initially as a print brokerage company in 1995, when print was at it’s height and clients were demanding better vendor relationships and better solutions for their print needs.

The company was founded by three young, energetic and motivated men that formed the D, the M and the C in the company - being Dino, Mark and Craig. Each of the three directors brought their own personalities and strengths to the business, but all of them had sales experience in the print industry. Craig Rodda, one of the three founders of DMC Group is still Managing Director today.

And that’s where the business was founded - as a print broker, and then with swift growth and high dedication, a print manager for some of Australia’s biggest brands. When clients were tired of working with multiple suppliers and juggling trying to navigate an industry that they didn’t understand, they began looking for more economic and streamlined solutions for their ‘big picture’ print needs. 

Grow with our customers

But to achieve longevity and growth in the competitive and evolving marketplace, DMC Group has faced many challenges and turned them into opportunities. But at the core, the company’s values have remained the same.

“As we saw digital technologies emerging in the late 90s, we knew that this would have not only a huge impact on the way that we delivered our product, but also the opportunity to create real change for our clients, too, through greater efficiencies, reporting and opportunities.”

“We figured out pretty quickly that digital was actually great for business - faster turnaround time, better reporting, and while initially it was a more expensive solution, we also knew that the digital adoption would grow, and over time it would become mainstream. So we stayed ahead of the curve, and made business easier as soon as we could. This was not about adopting digital for digital’s sake; this was about seeing the opportunity to do better business.” 

In 2000, DMC Group’s then-small client, JB Hi-Fi was an emerging brand in the retail space, with 10 stores. They had big plans to grow, from 10 to 110 retail stores, and they needed the infrastructure to support this growth with their promotional printing and merchandising needs, plus the procurement and distribution to free up head office resources.

“We combined our background in print management with digital systems and warehousing solutions to support the business needs in this period of rapid growth,” says Craig. “It was new - to them, and to us, too - so we were all learning along the way. But ultimately, this work has been the foundation of our birds-eye-view approach to procurement and delivery.”

Following on from evolving the print management business by adding warehousing, distribution, design and creative services, in 2010, DMC Group set up DMC Asia to meet the growing need for offshore production of print and promotional items. This saw DMC Group expand into the sports licensing market (combining their love of procurement with the love of sport), and the evolution into what is now a separately successful company, DMC Sport, which is operated by one of DMC’s founders, Dino. DMC Sport operates as a separate entity, but the founding skills of the DMC business, along with the core values carry through within this specialist sports business.

The customer is always number one

“We’ve all heard the phrase ‘the customer is always right’. But in our experience, that’s not always true,” says Craig Rodda. “See, the customer knows what they want to achieve, but they may not have the expertise to know how to get there. DMC Group has always aimed to understand the customer’s business as well, if not better, than they do, and by being an expert in our service offerings.

And customer needs are always evolving, so DMC has evolved with them. DMC Group have evolved their business to provide continual delivery of what the customers need, aiming to provide the specific industry expertise that they require, and to always look for business improvement through processes and delivery.

Now, through a consistent desire to meet the client’s needs, DMC Group has evolved its offering to include a broader range of services - from creative, production and distribution services - to an increasingly evolving client base, continuing to specialise in end-to-end solutions based on strong partnerships, and an intimate knowledge of the client’s business needs.

“We like to be more than a vendor to our clients. We like to know what they need before they do. DMC Group aims to partner with our clients to give them a true extension to their internal team’s experience and know-how, to help them do better business,” says Craig. “We have lasted because we’re committed to developing solutions and processes that are well suited to how our clients’ teams like to work and collaborate.

The future looks bright

There’s no doubt that the business services sector will continue to evolve, and the next decade will be complex and uncertain. But like all businesses, DMC Group is looking forward to the new opportunities and challenges that will come with continued transformation, and is well-positioned to continue to offer innovative practices, market agility and intimate customer knowledge.

“Relationships will continue to be the cornerstone of our success,” says Craig. “Customers don’t care if you’re big or small, as long as they trust who they are dealing with and we deliver on what we promise and we all believe in our offer, the 20’s will still be good for DMC, its staff, suppliers and customers.”

*Australian Bureau of Statistics
# Job Mobility in Australia, McCrindle

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