20 Years in Business – An Interview with Alex (heir apparent)

Alex Evans, Corner House Design & Print

What was your first job?

General joey at Corner House Design but officially at the age of 16 I was a checkout boy at Sainsbury’s.

How many years have you been working in the creative industry?

Officially since I was 16 but have been working within CHD since I was a youngster.

What was your biggest drive to work in the family studio?

I’ve always helped in the studio since I was a kid, whether it was helping mum with filing and keeping the books up to date or doing the cleaning, or if I got really lucky, I got to work on a live job .  I attended college and worked at the studio during the holidays – these were two hugely contrasting situations, one being months to finish a brief the other being hours! I took the plunge at 18 and knuckled down from there. Having seen the hours of hard work Dad put in I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy ride and like, every kid, I dreamed of following in my dad’s footsteps. And here I am today after 6 years!

Whats your secret to be able to work with the family for so long?

Don’t live with them! – in all seriousness I knew from 18 that if I was to be spending 8 hours plus in the studio with my Mum and Dad the last thing I wanted to do was go home and be told off for leaving my washing on the floor by my boss. The key is to separate work and family life, although a bit of integration in the studio is also essential. We leave things at the door and don’t  bring home issues into work or work issues home.

What is your key to building a strong and trustworthy team?

Honesty and accountability. A good friend will be proud for hearing those words. I’ve never once seen any of the team duck and dive and pass the blame, when we are honest we learn from our mistakes to prevent the issue arising again. Oh and you have to be able to make a good brew here!

Over the past 6 years you have seen the business develop into a heredity business, what has the biggest change over the past 6 years been?

Being allowed more freedom, having established more of a business development role over the past few years I’m now undertaking more responsibilities including client meetings, networking, exhibitions and much more. I still do a lot of design work but getting to know the clients is key and tailoring each of our services to their requirements helps reduce stress for our clients.

If you could pass one piece of advice on to any business owner what would it be?

Never stand still! You have to constantly be evolving and forever learning.

Over the past 20 years there have been huge developments in technology, what do you feel is the most beneficial and what is the most frustrating?

The million dollar question! The most beneficial clearly has to be the hardware we use, the Apple Macs. These reduce production times massively and something which may have taken a week to fix 10 years ago can be done in hours now! I think the biggest drawback though is availability. With so many people being able to access the software etc. it has made the industry very cut throat and has opened up the door to people who are not trained designers.  I’m sure its like this in most sectors though!

Who is your biggest influence when it comes to your determination in business?

My family, it’s a cliché that I’m sure a lot are fed up of hearing about but they truly are. The sacrifices my family have made over the years for the business shows me their determination and passion to keep on going, through thick and thin we all stick together and help and this reflects in our workplace.  Although honestly I hate to pick one person it has to be my Dad, his hard work over the past 20 years, the determination, the sacrifices when we were kids and the hardships he has been through yet he still arrives in the studio every day with a smile and ready for his brew!

Since the integration of digital marketing and specifically social media being key to businesses, how do you feel you have adopted to it.

Rather well, I remember the days of MySpace and then the big switch to Facebook, some of the old ‘on this day’ posts are rather embarrassing!

It has been something that has been forever evolving for my generation and it still blows my mind with the capabilities now! Although there has got to be a point where we get fed up of reading about other peoples lives and like to talk face to face instead! I do have to laugh when my Dad talks about ‘Twittering’

Are there any people you wish to thank over the past 20 years?

Firstly its got to be my Mum and Dad otherwise I wouldn’t be working here today. Kasey my partner: she’s put up with the many long hours we put in and I thank her for just being there. Janet, our studio manager for putting up with our family tiffs for so long and all the shared advice. There are also a couple of other business associates who I would like to thank for their advice: Warran, Ian, Ann, Mike and anyone else who has passed on words of advice.

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