John Watson OBE has always been ahead of his time when it comes to business and despite having worked with, managed and led John Watson & Company (JWC) for more than 45 years he has no intention of changing his innovative ways as he drives the firm towards its next phase of expansion.
JWC, founded in 1824, is one of the oldest printing companies in Scotland producing some of the finest design and print related products using the most advanced technology in the industry. Chief executive John employs 100 at his printing facility north of the city centre and serves a core of blue chip companies in the drinks industry, particular the Scotch whisky sector, as well as a number of firms through JWC’s commercial division.
John joined his father in the business in 1965 at a time when JWC was primarily a stationery retail business and jobbing printing company. However, even at an early stage it was clear to John that the focus of the business needed to be realigned to realise its full potential. When he took over the firm from his father in 1971, John set about establishing JWC as one of the leading bespoke printing businesses in Scotland.
Over the years as the company grew John advocated the importance of innovation as being the key to success, along with the firm’s ability to offer exceptionally high standards; not just in terms of the goods manufactured but also the service offered. A key foundation to this success has been to stay in touch with the key issues and challenges facing his customers. The firm deals with a range of customer issues from rebranding exercises to implementing anti-counterfeiting measures.
While the Scottish market is in a mature state and the printing industry in general is in decline, John has still maintained a profitable and financially sound business through challenging times, with turnover reaching £9.7million in March 2011. 2011 also saw the installation of a new state-of-the-art £3m Gallus PSL (pressure sensitive label) press demonstrating John’s confidence in the future,
John has sought to challenge many of the overseas markets where the competition is even fiercer than in the UK by entering the French, Irish and Russian markets as he strives to strengthen JWC’s global reach.
Thanks to his contribution to the printing industry, as well as his charity endeavours, John was awarded an OBE in 2006.
Jim Boyle, partner and head of entrepreneurial business at Deloitte, and awards judge, said: “Over the years John’s clear edge has been his focus and his ability to understand the needs of his customers and being able to offer solutions that are of the highest quality, on budget and to the right timescales. His drive, determination and resilience over his 46 year journey is an inspiration to anyone starting out in business.
“John’s energy, enthusiasm and vision has helped him to establish and maintain, over an entire career, a profitable business with a top class reputation and growing customer base.”