BAR Graphic Machinery

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from BAR Graphic Machinery is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Bill Rhodes, chairman, and
Annemarie Rhodes, managing
Bar Graphic Machinery
Founded in 1992, Bar Graphic Machinery (BGM) is a company
providing specialised, high-quality machines to the label
and packaging industries. Their primary clients are label
printers and flexible packaging printers specialising in the food
and beverage and pharmaceutical industries. The journey they
have undertaken is unique, beginning in a dining room and their
garage. These days, however, they are an internationally trading
company with a skilled team of designers and engineers. The
story of their success and how they operate in their sector is the
subject of the following piece, all in the words of the husband
and wife who run the company, Bill and Annemarie Rhodes.
Streamlining operations
Although we’ve catered to all manner of sectors, ranging from high security
printing to production of plain thermal transfer labels, our primary focus is on
creating machines for packaging. That is to say, we design and build (in-house)
finishing and converting equipment for the labelling and packaging industry.
Behind these operations is a highly skilled workforce, composed of a team of
designers, engineers and electrical engineers.
Designing machines like ours requires a great degree of sophistication, both in
terms of the design and the build – to this end, we utilise 3D Solidworks software,
which provides an accurate three-dimensional depiction of the product we plan to
manufacture. To give a better sense of the level at which we operate, our “Elite”
range sells for between £8,000 and £300,000.
»Managing director:
»Chairman: Bill Rhodes
»Established in 1992
»Based in Bradford, West
»Services: Design and
manufacture of machines
for the label and packaging
»Continued investment in R&D
»Internationally successful
Bar Graphic Machinery
Highlighting best practice
Investing in our production and supply
is important to us and the company,
which is why we use the latest CNC
and MRP systems. This means we can
perform stock management much
more efficiently than before, and plan
more effectively for the future – crucial
for a sustainable business.
Challenges to contend with
In terms of attaining clients,
reputation is what keeps us going,
which is entailed by providing an
impeccably high-quality service. As
a result of succeeding in this goal,
our repeat business is phenomenal.
Attaining staff, however, is more
difficult. There is a paucity of skills in
our sector, and so it was necessary
for us to foster a group of engineers
in our company. Mechanical and
electrical engineering skills are in
particularly short supply – something
worsening generation by generation.
On the other hand, we have invested
substantially in apprenticeships. We
are very proud of the apprenticeships
that we offer for future generations.
So far, our apprentice programme
has seen nine staff qualify from
HNC to NVQ level in mechanical and
Brexit for us was a concern, but only
because we didn’t, and still don’t,
know what it entails. To work our
way around this uncertainty, we
decided to invest in further afield
markets, one of which was the
United States – a decision that has
proven to be enormously beneficial
to us. Indeed, we’re still in a state
of disbelief of how well we are
performing in this market. The key
to entering this market is listening
deeply to their needs and providing
a genuinely bespoke service in
light of these requirements. After
signing a USA distribution agreement
with J&J Converting Machinery,
we managed to secure a place at
a trading exhibition in Chicago.
Fitting shop
In-house design team In-house manufacturing
innovation is the
driving force
behind our
success to date
with constant
tomeet our
customers’ needs
Immediatelysubsequent to this,
we were an instant success, selling
double figures of the two machines
that featured on the stand within the
first year. Since then we’ve gone from
strength tostrength.
Being competitive
Standing out in this sector is
particularly difficult, as competition
with regards to labelling is
exceptionally high. To succeed,
therefore, we’ve had to provide a
correspondingly exceptional service.
More concretely, this means listening
to the exact requirements of our
clients and custom-building their
machine. At the risk of sounding
glib, we really do go the extra mile
– the market demands it of us. All
of this, it is worth emphasising, is
done in-house, meaning that we
are especially equipped to offer this
custom service. Some in our field,
by contrast, outsource much of
their manufacturing from overseas.
Although this can result in cheaper
products, the technology and quality
is usually of an inferior quality, and
the degree to which custom changes
can be communicated quickly and
effectively is lessened for geographic
and linguistic reasons – this makes us
an attractive option.
On the topic of overseas business,
Brexit has not caused any perceptible
change for our business as of yet,
despite our expectations to the
contrary. For instance, the fact that
the Euro has been performing so
strongly vis-à-vis the pound initially
led us to assume that our sales would
see an increase, but things seem to
be holding steady in this regard. We
surmise that Europeans are holding
on to their money. Any kind of tariffs
in the future, though, could pose
significant difficulties. However,
business is all about surviving whatever
circumstances come your way; and
we’ve been through all kinds of
negative circumstances, not least those
of the 2008 recession.
One of the ways in which we’ll
navigate around this sea change in
circumstances is by seeking out further
overseas markets. We are currently in
the process of turning this general set
of ambitions into a strategic plan for
the future, marking the next level of
progression for the company. This will
be done in a measured way, keeping
in line with our tradition of living
within our means, and not assuming
workloads for which we do not have
the capacity. If this achieves even a
fraction of the success we saw in the
United States, it will have been worth
it. Our horizons will expand in the
following ways: consistent product
development and innovations with
the launching of new products to our
extensive portfolio as well as building
on the success of our “Elite” range of
converting and finishing equipment.
This investment underlines our full
commitment to thefuture.
reputation for
reliability and
Repeat business
with existing
customers has
enabled our
company to
become a
chosen supplier
to many leading
print and flexible
Customer service and
support team

This article was sponsored by BAR Graphic Machinery. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.