Richard Edward, a printing company based in Thamesmead, south-east London, has really been through the mill since being founded in 1976 by brothers John and David Moger.
When a printing press broke down in February 2006, staff didn't think anything of it - and just called in an engineer. But the problem was worse than they thought - the weight of the machine (worth £1.6m) had caused it to sink into the concrete floor of the factory, twisting the frame. It was a total write-off.
With the other machine 'on its knees', the company had to buy two new printing presses, and keep the business going for eight months until the new kit would be ready. Even so, through outsourcing most of its workload, the company didn't lose a single client or member of staff and even managed to increase its turnover.
But it wasn't too long before disaster struck again: co-founder and chairman David Moger died suddenly of a heart attack. 'A lot of our staff had worked for him for a very long time, and he was a very big man with a lot of presence, so coping with the morale side was very difficult,' daughter Louisa, now marketing director, recalls. It was also particularly difficult for her. 'Dad dropped down dead four days before I gave birth to my first child,' she says quietly.
Otherwise, 2007 'wasn't a bad year', says current MD Kevin Scott. But, towards the end of the year, the management team realised they were going to encounter cash flow difficulties in six months or so. They arranged to see their bank manager to ask for more money. The bank said no - and, what's more, it wanted its money back. They had three months to repay £800,000. 'We'd banked with them for 24 years,' says Moger. 'But there was a "red light" on print, so they just decided they didn't want to play any more.'
That which does not kill us makes us stronger, as Nietzsche once said, and, since then, the printing company has reduced its debt from £2.2m to £800,000 and increased turnover from £3.5m to £5.3m. Moger now plans to write a book about the trials and tribulations, Richard Edward: Hold the front page. We can't wait.
JB Banks & Son
Wills & Trusts