Angus Firm Flies High on International ReputationNeil Hardie
A combination of trust and product diversification has seen an Angus based aviation art firm take off.
Squadron Prints, originally founded in 1977, was taken over by aviation enthusiast Gill Howie 20 years ago.
Along with partner Berry Vissers, a former Dutch air force technician who worked on F16 fighter planes, she has guided the firm to selling a vastly expanded portfolio of products to an export market of 43 countries.
The firm, which previously operated from a domestic garage, has grown to require larger premises is now based on an Arbroath industrial estate.
Originally supplying high specification prints of aircraft to RAF Squadrons, the company now offers a range of promotional items, including embroidery, mugs, patches, clothes coins and lanyards to military units across the globe.
The firm has produced 3,000 different prints and 600 different badges in its 43 year history.
Ms Howie, who made headlines when she completed her first solo flight aged 17, said the firm had built up a relationship of trust with military units who are often repeat customers.
The firmcounts elite forces including the Red Arrows among their client portfolio.
She said: “We are in a privileged position in many ways and over the years we have been made honorary members of a number of air force squadrons.
“This is a market where authenticity and attention to detail is vital and our own aviation background has certainly helped when working with customers.”
The company has invested in their website and hopes to achieve an even split between direct sales to air forces and website sales to flight enthusiasts.
She said: “The firm is moving with the times and we have increased our production capacity by investing in equipment, with more embroidery machines and mug printing machines.”
The company currently has a full order book and sources as much of their materials as possible from local suppliers.
Ms Howie added: “We have seen an increase in competition from emerging firms, who may be providing cheaper products, but without the level of detail and expertise the market demands.”