For a small company, Stoke-on-Trent based Abalone Graphics have quickly made a big impression, particularly in the field of magnetic name badges. By mid-2016 it was clear to company founder Jason Middleton that new premises were needed for his business to grow and he is now delighted with a move to the Old Whieldon Road Business Park, in Stoke, owned by Ashbourne developer PMW Property.
“It was a chance conversation,” Jason explains. “I have been looking to move since about August. We have been just up the road but were based upstairs, and were looking to get in some bigger machinery. I noticed the signs, here, so I rang and spoke to Jo Jones at PMW.” The serviced offices on the Old Whieldon Road site were not large enough to accommodate Jason’s needs, but Jo remembered another vacant building on the site that she felt may be suitable.
“To be honest, it’s absolutely perfect,” Jason laughed. “I knew what I wanted, so when I walked in here… If I had to sit down and design somewhere, this would be it! I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. We wanted half to be office area and half a working area and that’s exactly what we have. I was pinching myself when I was looking through the window and saw it. It’s absolutely ideal for us. We have more space here and it’s a better area for us, really, how it’s laid out.”
The location is an added bonus for Jason, central to a large local customer base with excellent transport connections. “It is ideal for Longton, Newcastle and Hanley, we are central to all those locations. The M6 is close by, we have the train station around the corner and one of our biggest customers is in walking distance, just up the road. They’re delighted that we’re here because they are here daily. It’s the perfect spot for us.”
The move will give Abalone Graphics the opportunity to expand and Jason hopes that they will be able to increase the current team of four by recruiting a new full-time staff member and take on another apprentice.
After being made redundant from the pottery business, Jason turned his hand to plastering and taught the skill to youngsters at a local college before looking for a new challenge. In 2010 he launched Abalone Graphics to produce promotional items, including printing onto tee shirts and other garments. Jason’s wife Rachel joined him in the business a couple of years ago.
Rachel Middleton and Adam Copeland with a selection of magnetic name badges
“Around 60% of our business, now, is magnetic name badges for customers, such as the NHS, and companies both nationwide and overseas,” said Jason. Abalone Graphics became involved with terminally ill cancer patient Kate Grainger and her Hello, my name is… campaign to create a more compassionate and caring relationship between doctors and patients in hospitals.
“We had a number of orders for badges and wondered if the NHS were rebranding,” Jason explains, “but when I looked into it I realised that it was all about Kate Grainger and her campaign. I got in touch with Kate and said that we would like to support her on this.
We spoke to Kate and agreed to make a 50p donation for every Hello my name is… badge that we produced. Last year we donated £780 but we think it will be considerably more this year. Sadly Kate passed away last year but the campaign has gathered even more momentum and a lot of people are recognising that now.”
Abalone Graphics’ unit on the Old Whieldon Road Business Park complements a number of other businesses on the site which include a local transport company, a logistic company and a national bathroom sanitaryware supplier, together with serviced office accommodation.
PMW Property purchased the Old Whieldon Road site in 2008 as a part-occupied investment. The majority of the site was, then, occupied by Boards Products Ltd but a scheme of refurbishment undertaken on the empty units quickly attracted interest from a number of parties. The estate has since proved a popular location, being closely to the A50 and the greater road network including the north and southbound M6.
“We’re delighted to welcome Abalone Graphics to the Old Whieldon Road site and wish them every success for the future in their new office unit,” commented PMW Property’s Jo Jones.