After a lifetime helping patients in the NHS, Anne Smith is running a growing print business and creating jobs for young people.
Innovative Anne, and her photographer husband Eric, set up their business in Cardiff’s busy Crwys Road in 2011, within just weeks taking on their first employee.
Fast forward eight years and Amyas Trading is undergoing a major expansion, taking over a unit in St Catherine’s Park off Newport Road, setting up new divisions and planning to add more staff to the payroll.
Welsh ethical lender Robert Owen Community Banking Fund (ROCBF) of Newtown in Powys, which has supported them with a loan for the move, says Amyas is just the kind of enterprise it wants to back.
“The firm is exactly the sort of enterprise ROCBF wants to encourage,” said CEO Mark White. “Amyas is commercially successful and also community-based, contributing to the economy and putting something back as well.”
The loan was partly backed by the Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG). “EFG accreditation enables ROCBF to be more flexible in the scope of our lending and for many businesses this is a useful alternative to the High Street Banks,” he added.
The expansion will be underpinned by a new structure for Amyas creating three divisions – digital, big format and music publishing.
The last category – music publishing – is an exciting new venture for Amyas, prompted by the love of music rooted in the Smith family.
The couple are members of the Salvation Army where Eric is bandmaster, while their son Andy is one of the top cornet players in the country.
Through this expertise Amyas has linked up with brass, wind and percussion publishers Prima Vista Musikk to print and distribute their music worldwide.
“It’s very exciting,” said Anne, whose enthusiasm for her business is tangible.
“And because Eric is an accomplished musician he was able to spot a mistake on one of the sheets and ask the author to reset it.”
Anne’s enthusiasm for a business taken on after a long, demanding career in the NHS, is impressive.
She said Amyas was in talks with a Netherlands choral music company about publishing their work.
In other print work, Amyas has a number of well-known clients, including KPSS which makes the Goldwell hair salon products, Cardiff University, Co-production Network for Wales.
Confused.com is another major client which Anne acquired after stepping in to help when the firm needed some print work done in a hurry.
“I was happy to help and didn’t realise who I was dealing with, until the customer came back a few days later to thank us and said who she worked for.”
Anne spent nearly 40 years working to drive efficiency in the Welsh NHS, and learning important management and mentoring skills. She also worked for three years for the Welsh Assembly which also sponsored her to study at prestigious Harvard University.
She and Eric, who ran a wedding photography business for 30 years, are now devoting themselves to helping others, with plans to expand their staff to seven with the opening of the new unit, alongside offering freelances work while they grow their own portfolios.
“We have a marvelous team here, and without George Crawford and the others working here, none of this would have been possible,” Anne commented.
“I really want to help others, and my ultimate aim would be to set up a training school,” she added.
“There are a lot of people who are not being touched. Young people who can’t find work, mothers returning to the workplace whose skills are out of date.”
Her desire to help the local community has led her to become chair of Cathays Compass.
“For three years we have run a free fair in June. It started with 20 stalls and this year we have 80.”
Mark White, CEO of ROCBF based in Newtown, Powys said they were delighted to have supported Amyas to help the expansion, the second tranche of which has been supplied under EFG.
“We have been delighted to support Amyas, and wish them every success with the expansion. Unlike many other lenders, when we make investment decisions we take a wide-ranging, holistic view of a business rather than looking at a narrow set of parameters.
“We are confident the business has a bright future and will now go from strength to strength.”