At J Thomson Colour Printers, our main focus is on providing the highest print quality possible for our customers to help them represent their brand in creative and innovative ways. In order to provide this service, we make sure our people know the company, processes - as well as the print industry generally - inside and out.
We train all the people who work with us in a variety of ways, helping them learn and understand exactly what it means to be part of an industry-leading print solutions company.
A glowing and exceptional example of this training, focus and teamwork is our very own Mark Jones.
We spoke to Mark about his story, his passions and his future in J Thomson...
"My uncle worked for a small, local printer in Glasgow and it was always something I was fascinated by. So I went to The College of Building and Printing, which I really enjoyed - printing on t-shirts and things like that.
Around that time, J Thomson contacted the college asking for young apprenticeships. I was delighted to be one of the people, along with a classmate of mine called Gillian, that was chosen out of the entire class of about 40 people.
I was so keen that I started working the day after my 16th birthday, 13 years ago last month!"
How long was the apprenticeship and how did you feel it went?
"The apprenticeship was only 3 years to become fully qualified. I'd already done some health and safety qualifications at college, so that also helped.
It was different to how I thought it'd be at first! I was used to working on pretty old machines at college - which was actually given to them by J Thomson when they upgraded - so when I actually arrived at J Thomson, I didn't even know what I was looking at! It was all brand new, up-to-date and advanced equipment."
Was it quite a steep learning curve after joining the company?
"No actually, the way they brought me through it was really good! I had a good team around me, helping me through and backing me all the way. I definitely needed that team around me though as at that stage I was just a young, daft wee boy!
Since I've joined, there has only really been a couple of people that have left out of that team. It's great because it's a really close knit group, and as I say, only a couple have left so everybody around me has really helped me along my path."
Did you work with anyone in-particular throughout your apprenticeship, or did you get to work on a couple of different areas?
"It was more of a team effort to be honest, which I really liked. My management team made sure I was working with everybody instead of just the same person all the time, which allowed me the chance to work in lots of different areas of the process.
I got to do everything within the department as well as helping the plate makers downstairs which was really beneficial. Even if someone was on holiday or something, I'd be able to go and support that area of the team so over the years I've learnt to be a pre-press operator instead of just a mac operator. That's why now, pretty much all aspects of pre-press I should be able to do!"
How have you seen your role progress over the years?
"Aye, it's changed quite a bit! I started as a pre-press apprentice, so that covers everything in the department, even maintaining the machines, running plates etc. Whereas now it's more based on the Mac. It's been a great change and journey for me. Being relied on for big, important and expensive jobs and knowing your role in that project is really nice."
If you weren't working at J Thomson, or the print industry generally, what do you think you'd be doing?
"Good question... at school I wanted to be a cartoonist. I was drawing my whole days. Now as an adult, I've started drawing tattoos in my spare time. Even designing some for friends and family.
Then in school, I started to be more interested in the graphic communication side of things and I knew I wanted to do something that used those skills. Anything to do with design or drawing.
And now in J Thomson, I get to do that in a way. I get to have that artistic side of things, when you go through the illustrator, build designs and drawings that some customers require etc. So I still get that creative aspect to my role here, which I really enjoy."
What would you say to young people interested in the print industry nowadays?
"It all depends on what you want to do and what you're interested in. When I left school, I knew I wanted to be part of an important company that was an important part of the industry. I know that print has changed a lot over the years, but that's what I wanted to do.
As soon as J Thomson gave me a shout when I was a boy, I jumped right at it! I'd realised how big a company they actually were and they wanted to have me there so I was super excited.
I could see that I had the opportunity to potentially rise through the apprenticeship and develop my managerial qualities. I could tell that I could come in here and have what I wanted if I worked hard enough. That was very important for me: the fact that they do actually look in-house to build the future of the company, constantly bringing people in, helping them get to the next level and rewarding them for their hard work.
There is that career path here for you if you want it. They lay it all out for you and push you to achieve more. I don't think there are many other printers, or even many other private businesses nowadays, that would actually do that for you... but we do!
They are doing it right now with a couple of people in here already. So I know that is the future for me, to continue to keep working forwards and hopefully getting into those managerial positions and training the next generation of youngsters."
Mark's story and journey with J Thomson is one of incredible personal and professional development. From a young, daft (his words) boy, Mark has flourished at the company to become an indispensable member of the J Thomson team. His experience and education with the company has enabled him to exceed even what he thought was possible in the industry.
Indeed, as Mark continues to help J Thomson to innovate and produce state-of-the-art print for its customers, he looks forward to teaching the next generation of young people - helping them on their path to becoming the future of the Scottish printing industry.
If you'd like to find out more about our apprenticeships or would like to find out how J Thomson can help you, please contact us through the enquiry box below.
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