“The key to winning public tenders can be as simple as filling out the documentation early.”
Alex Pigot set up what was to become Tico Mail Works in 1985, in an upstairs office in Dublin’s Deansgrange. The business supplies print, pack and post-personalised mail items such as bills, statements, legal notices and direct mail.
Now, with 30 years’ expertise in bulk mail production, and the capacity to pack in excess of a million pieces a week, it is the approved mailing house for companies such as Hewlett Packard, Vodafone and Diageo.
Pigot, a UCD computer science graduate, is a founding member of the Irish Direct Marketing Association and a former board director of its European counterpart. The company has ISO 9001 accreditation and has strong Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practices, including an ethical sourcing policy. It is based in Sandyford, Dublin 18.
What’s your business’s elevator pitch?
We supply, print, pack and post-personalised mail items such as bills, statements, legal notices and direct mail. An example of what we post that some people might be familiar with are Garda speeding fines.
What do you regard as your business’s greatest achievement?
Winning our first Irish government EU tender was a real highlight for me. It showed we had grown up fully as an SME. The key to winning public tenders can be as simple as filling out the documentation early.
Because everything is electronic now, once you miss a deadline, that’s it. I gather the biggest mistake my competitors make is leaving it too late to file.
What was the lowest moment?
The financial crash of late 2008 and early 2009. We did not lose a single customer, but they reduced the work they gave us. We lost money and we had to shed jobs. At our peak, in 2007, we had 52 staff. That fell to 26 within a couple of years but is now back up to 41.
I don’t know how we managed to keep morale up during that period, but I do know that very often staff who leave us come back to work here again, so we must be doing something right.
Perhaps it is because we believe a person’s home life is more important than their work life.
For instance, we agree with staff what hours they work so that it fits in with their home life – and they are then paid for every hour they work so there’s no need for clockwatching. It’s the kind of system I’d like if I worked for a company, so that’s how I’ve always done it. People love the flexibility of it.
How have you coped with setbacks?
Breathe deeply and de-stress with loads of sleep, exercise and water. It was all my Mother’s advice and it works. I tend to cheer myself up by finding the bright side of whatever issue I’m facing, even if it’s just realising that things could be worse.
Mr Micawber, the character in Dickens’ David Copperfield, said: “Something will always turn up.” And it does. And it’s always good.