[alert type=”info” close=”false”]This year Prepress Projects is 25 years old. We have given a commemorative crystal tumbler to each of our employees as a celebration gift.

We are celebrating today by closing the office for the afternoon and going out for a very nice lunch. There will be no speeches. But if there were any, this is what Helen, our managing director, would be saying.[/alert]

It was 25 years ago, more or less, that I gave up work to become a freelance editor. David didn’t join the business until 2 years later, which sounds like another good excuse for a lunch in 2018. A lot of water has passed under a lot of bridges since then. Or more appropriately, red ink. We started with editing as our core service, and it remains our core service. However, we have added project management, typesetting, editorial office management, writing and technology services along the way.

We used to work for mostly commercial publishers. Some no longer exist (or became part of larger organisations). Others outsourced editing to low-cost foreign suppliers and we lost the work for cost reasons.

Now we work for mostly public sector organisations, including a strong portfolio of EU agencies and similar bodies. These clients rely on us to support them with a strong understanding of professional publishing and a dependable, high-quality service.

Maragret Robertson, our office manager.

Maragret Robertson, our office manager.

Some of our staff have witnessed many changes and some not so many. If you want to know where the bodies are buried then ask our office manager, Margaret, as she remembers the business being based in our dining room, and has seen more change than anyone else. Ask GillianKarin and Lucy about our previous office suite, before we moved to Algo Business Centre. At least ask them about the ants.

Some things have come to pass that I didn’t expect would happen. I hope being proud isn’t too much of a sin – I’m really pleased, dare I say rather proud, that we provide real jobs, ones that may be demanding but which can provide experience of true achievement for those that do them. We didn’t have that as an objective to begin with but it has become one. Several ex-employees have gone on to establish careers in larger publishers or as independent freelances, and I think it’s fair to say that they wouldn’t have if they hadn’t learned their trade with us.

I hope our clients, suppliers and employees will all stay with us to see many more changes, perhaps in the clients we serve, the services we offer or, even, the countries we are based in and the opportunities we can offer.

David and I intend to be around for years and years to come, we hope, but as we enter our second quarter-century the senior staff in the company are the ones that will increasingly protect its future. Here I don’t just mean our current management team: I mean all project leaders as well, some of whom may well, probably will, end up on management team for their sins. And, of course, we hope to see new project leader posts created as well.

If there is sufficient interest it is likely that future ownership of the company will be in the hands of its employees, rather than of its present shareholders, David and me. Alex and David attended the InspireEO conference on employee ownership in October last year, and we plan to explore further the employee ownership options open to us.

Finally, next year, 2017, should see our first person with 20 years’ service (Margaret again).

Now we will close the office and go out for lunch to celebrate – just eat, drink and be merry.