Back in 1995, two young, fresh faced chaps considered it would be a good idea to form a design and print business in Doncaster that would specialise in agency style design coupled with high quality full colour print. And so, Chameleon Design & Print was formed - a partnership.
The chaps in question were Craig Reep (aged 24 at the time) and William Brodie (25) who had already served their apprenticeships and developed strong career positions. Craig had served his time mainly in the creative studio, or as it was called back then, Reprographics. William on the other hand was purely print. Both Craig & William had already experienced management positions in the previous posts and therefore considered they were ready to take on the world of business - how little did they know.
Getting a design and print business off the ground is not easy, especially back in the 90’s. The main issue was funding, as equipment didn't come cheap. Fortunately, the bank manager at the time liked the boys and the business plan, so he was willing to loan them both money, secured against their homes. In addition to this, finance was also arranged on equipment such as printing machinery, repro-camera, platemaking equipment and a guillotine - all very technical and all very heavy.
The deal was done, both Craig & William were officially business owners and totally skint in the process - in addition, if the business failed - they would require some rather large cardboard boxes to live in, so that was not going to be an option.
Inevitably, the business took off! Craig found himself working in a sales role during the daylight hours, falling back into his creative one on the evening. William on the other hand, couldn't cut paper and print fast enough. In the first year, the chaps landed some pretty impressive clients: Premier Profiles possibly being the highest ranked of them all. Premier (part of the Polypipe group of companies) where the market leader in UPVc manufacturing and their clients who span all over the U.K. got to know about Chameleon and consequently their services were called upon many times.
In addition to Premier, Craig secured more clients during the first year, most of which were local - from the Doncaster, Retford, Worksop, Rotherham, Barnsley and Sheffield area. The chaps weren't too fussed back then who they did business with which in time became an issue as they learned that not every business is honest when it comes to paying the bills - a hard lesson learned.
Needless to say, Chameleon continued to develop and by year 3, Craig & William had taken on 2 additional members of staff, plus Craig’s wife, Michelle and they had also moved premises. The move was only across the car-park but the new industrial unit was twice the size and with a second floor. In addition to this, they purchased an additional B3 printing press. This was second hand and sourced from the Isle of Wight and in order to get it back to Doncaster, the chaps hired a 7.5 tonne van and drove all the way to collect the press and back on the same day - the things you do, when your young and daft and full of energy from Mars Bars and cans of Coke!
Chameleon were becoming recognised in the Doncaster area. The word was spreading that there was such a place whereby you could source well thought out creative design - the type you’d pay a small fortune for at a design agency - and then see your brochure, stationery, packaging etc…printed there on-site by the same team.
In addition to printing, Chameleon invested in finishing equipment so now they were becoming even more versatile and competitive with their offerings. More and more clients came to Chameleon, some are even still with them today and they steadily progressed over the next 3 years.
In 2001, William suffered a serious motor cycle accident, while Craig was on holiday. Fortunately, at the time Chameleon had 6 additional members of staff, so things ticked over until Craig returned. It was evident to Craig, William was in a bad way and he was going to be out of the business for many months to come. And so, this is what happened - Chameleon had to diversify as the pressure was on. Craig formed a relationship with a trade print company who were very pleased to take on the overspill of print work. This enabled the business to continue at the same pace and with Craig’s attention to detail, nothing was missed. Every part of the process was checked by Craig to ensure quality was maintained and service was upheld.
Several months went by and eventually William decided that the time he had spent away from the business had enabled him to consider a different career path. It was a sad time but Craig was willing to take the business forward by himself and develop it further.
The legals were taken care off and Chameleon was streamlined. Craig wanted to concentrate on the clients that really made Chameleon excel. The printing joined forces and overnight became a much hungrier set up. Craig decided that an industrial unit was no longer the right place to offer creative design services, so Chameleon moved into temporary offices whilst the business funds were recuperated after the expensive period.
In 2003 Chameleon had really turned a corner. A new array of clients were coming to Chameleon, one name that is recalled was ADP. They were a large US company who had set up a U.K. office in South Yorkshire. Chameleon went onto to service ADP with a wide range of design and printing services for the next 5 years - until the U.K. division was later moved to Europe. Around this same time, Craig purchased offices for Chameleon in Tickhill, a new base where they could focus their creativity from and service clients both at their workplace and at the Tickhill base. Chameleon also became a Limited Company - Chameleon (Tickhill) Ltd and the branding tag line became Creative Communications to promote Chameleon’s broad range of creative services.
During this period, Chameleon had started to experiment with website design, again (previously but unsuccessfully a few years earlier). It was still fairly primitive then, nothing like today but Craig had recognised that in order to keep Chameleon’s clients safe and away from prowling competitors, Chameleon would have to develop this service further.
Over the following 2 to 3 years, Chameleon advanced and took on 2 additional members of staff to support the new services, such as website design and email marketing. In and around the recession in 2008, clients of Chameleon started to focus much more on websites rather than printing. The recession was biting marketing budgets hard and the requirement for large quantities of printed material was not really affordable. In-turn, this helped Chameleon’s digital services to grow.
Chameleon were losing some of their turnover - who wasn't during the recession? but the business was going through another dimensional change and Craig saw that if they could hang on and survive the recession, it may even do the business some good.
Eventually, when the world of business started to recover, so did Chameleon and they re-emerged better and much more equipped than ever before. Smaller, sharper, leaner and ready again to take on the world of creative marketing, design, digital and printing.
Today Chameleon remains small, with a team of 5 - just how Craig likes them to be. They do have the powerful printing set up to support the business but the core services of Chameleon get labelled in different ways - a full service design agency / creative communication agency / digital marketing agency and so on. The fact is Chameleon are a creative team that love doing what they do and for the clients they do it for.
Being around for over 20 years has taught Chameleon a great deal, how could it not. One thing they strive to ensure is respect. Respect from their clients and respect to their clients - without this you simply cannot work together - a strong philosophy of Craig’s.
Chameleon’s services are quite vast, for a small little business, but they don’t overcomplicate matters - they leave that to the big boys who are keen to impress with flip charts, presentations, laser pens and freebies.
The team at Chameleon are real people. They don’t wear waistcoats (joke!), they are not pretentious and most of all they are interested in you, the client and your business above everything else.
So, to summarise; Chameleon have been around the block, they've grown and they've shrunk - they gained clients and lost clients over the past 20 plus years. If however, you are looking for a dedicated creative partner for your business, then don't overlook Chameleon. They can really work their magic, for the right client and tailor their services to meet your budget.
Craig is still the main contact, he probably always will be - that’s Craig. You can call him or email is equally as good, if not better and he and his team will look after you and provide a creative marketing service that is second to none.
What are you waiting for? Contact Chameleon, making an enquiry costs nothing and the results can be impressive.
Telephone: 0845 124 7300 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
"We have been working with Chameleon for over 10 years. For us it's important to work with a company that understands our need to be constantly innovating.
It's also important for us to be able to work with people that can handle the full package, our website, the branding, online event updates, magazine adverts, event brochu...
Chris Hoey - Managing Director
Chameleon have made every project during the past 8 years extremely enjoyable and always value for money. Most recently, the design and creation of our new responsive website.
It was a challenging project but Chameleon constantly kept us updated and took control from the initial design concepts, through to the content and photograph...
Neil Bowles - JBB Chair
"It was amazing how quickly Craig and his team at Chameleon were able to understand our corporate structure and philosophy here at SES Group and provide us with first class marketing advice.
Chameleon have created a brand design for us that truly reflects our identity and reputation for delivering innovative engineering solutions wit...
Dave Gascoigne - Group Commercial Director
"The essence of our business is trust, and in discovering Craig and his team, we feel we have found someone that we can trust. To mark our 140th year in business, we knew we required a modern, creative, technology advanced partner and Chameleon’s great enthusiasm and common sense has made it much easier than we ever imagined"...
Brian, David, Doreen & Sue Butterfield - Company Directors
"The ability to stand outside a company and see the potential, ideas and vision is a unique skill.
Combining experience and communication, marketing strategies are built with confidence and a professional attitude. Chameleon 'grasp it' and deliver from the very beginning".
Paul Munby - Director
"I just want to say a big big thank you and look forward to working with Craig and the Chameleon team for many years to come.
They’ve met every deadline, no matter how last minute our demands have been which shows fantastic commitment and customer service.
Chameleon... a forward thinking creative agency with fresh ideas...
Lee Edwards - Restaurant owner
"Chameleon have given us fresh new branding, stationery, product labels and packaging, signage and a superb e-commerce website.
Finding Chameleon was one of the best things I have done in a long time".
John Barclay - Managing Director