Nantwich-based Graham Shapiro Design go from strength to strength

Nantwich-based Graham Shapiro Design go from strength to strength. They began in a recession and continue to flourish in these challenging times WORDS BY CARL NAGAITIS<br/>PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN COCKS

Entrepreneur and designer Graham Shapiro is having a deja vu year. While the rest of the world seems to be obsessed with the economic doom and gloom, this Nantwich-based businessman can’t help comparing 2012 with the year he launched his successful business.

‘Back in 1995 we were in the middle of a recession, nobody had any money and the outlook was grim, much like today,’ recalled the MD of Graham Shapiro Design (GSD). ‘Nevertheless I was passionate about what I did, I believed I was good and I was ambitious. So I went into business.’

Seventeen years later GSD is a multi-award winning agency with a client list that reads like a Who’s Who of the movers and shakers of the corporate world and a reputation as a leading player in the visual communication and digital marketing sector.

‘I can understand business owners being concerned about the current economic climate but I am convinced that if you have the confidence and drive you can achieve anything you wish by moving forward. When I hear the news about the tough challenges facing businesses it takes me back to the situation when I started out. The odds were stacked against me but I looked ahead and ploughed on.’

Just weeks after setting up in business, the young designer, whose only hands-on experience after leaving Wolverhampton University with a Visual Communication degree had been as a junior with Conran Design in London, snapped up his first contract.

South Cheshire College, one of a growing number of educational establishments to embark on a policy of pro-actively marketing their services, engaged Graham’s fledgling company as its design agency.

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‘It was a fantastic start for my business and in an area which, over time, grew into one of our niche specialities. Today 15 colleges and two universities use us as their educational marketing specialists,’ said Graham.

However, GSD’s flying start in the business world didn’t end there. Graham heard that electronics giant Samsung were looking for an agency to handle the design of a new European Products brochures.

He successfully pitched for the business, beating off two much bigger and long-established agencies.

‘It was a dream come true. I think we got the work because they could see we were passionate and they liked our creativity.’

The South Cheshire College contract was the reason that Staffordshire- born Graham moved his operation to Nantwich. And his growing workload meant he soon had to start employing staff.

‘Luckily I was able to find some very talented individuals who brought a range of new skills to our list of services,’ added Graham, now a youthful 43-year-old. ‘Although our core activity is brand design and management we now do everything from websites to mobile apps, copywriting, advertising and e-marketing.’

And GSD’s expertise has attracted clients including Typhoo Tea, Philips, Motorola, the NHS, Siemens and fellow Cheshire businesses Wrights, Mornflake and Clive Christian, creators of the world’s most expensive perfume.

Over the years the company has won a clutch of awards but the most recent include the 2011 Cr�me de la Cr�me business excellence award, the Global Business Excellence Award for An Outstanding Product, the High Sheriff of Cheshire’s Award for Enterprise and the UK Action Coach Award for Outstanding Achievement.

Some of those accolades recognise the success of Graham’s additional achievement, the invention of the interloopmailer. The mailer is a patented marketing tool which enables businesses to deliver multiple messages to clients and customers via an ingenious folding mail package.

Graham explained: ‘I came up with the mailer invention while at University. I wanted to create an innovative direct mail piece that would instantly interest the end user. Clients and customers love it and the product is taking off all over the world.’

Graham’s business is built on his innate creativity, an ability to do things differently and by doing so make a statement. And the best way to understand that creativity is to pay a visit to his company HQ at Tudor House, a traditional, black-and-white 400- year-old picture-postcard beams-and-all building in Welsh Row, Nantwich. Then step through the doorway and enter a 21st century boardroom complete with vibrant colours, giant silver grandfather clock and feature lighting.

Graham’s description? ‘A mix of vintage and contemporary’.

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