2021 has certainly been another challenging year. Looking back 12 months, I don’t think any of us imagined we’d still be dealing with the same issues this Christmas as last, however, the last 20 months have proved to us all exactly what we can achieve in difficult times.
For us as a business, like most others, we have made a number of changes over the last couple of years; we are stronger than ever before, and looking ahead, we have some very exciting plans for the future.
We have now welcomed all the team back from furlough and the new ways of working (to ensure we are doing everything we can to keep our people and our clients safe) are now very much part of everything we do.
New technology & a growing team
The future is always a key focus and over the last few months, we have made various investments, in technology, software and people to support our growth plans. We have been prudent and steadfast in our approach to business through the pandemic and whilst we are mindful of how rapidly things have and can change, we are always looking to what’s next.
So that we stay efficient and keep providing our clients with the best possible solutions we understand the very real need to invest in machinery and equipment to support this. Our new digital die-cutting machine and foiler have revolutionised our bespoke finishing offering, not only allowing us to continue to push the creative boundaries but also to future-proof our in-house expertise and capabilities.
It’s not often our people leave, and the longevity of our workforce is something we are very proud of however we have celebrated the retirement of three of our team over the last year: Sales Director Tony Humphreys, Finance Manager John Burton and Litho Printer Ady Coy, who between them have nearly 100 years of service!
Our most important asset is our team and investment in our people is crucial to support our continued growth plans. We are thrilled to welcome two new members of the Ruddocks team: Designer, Robyn Duncan who has joined the design studio and Digital Marketing Executive Joe Smith who brings a wealth of digital marketing experience to our marketing team, and we look forward to welcoming our new Digital Printer in January. We also have plans to continue and expand the training and development of our staff, as a whole and individually to support their own development journeys.
Not only has the Ruddocks' family grown, but quite a few of our teams’ own families also. We have experienced something of a baby boom at Ruddocks over the last year or so with five of our staff having welcomed children into the world! Futureproofing at its best, perhaps?
Our sustainability promise
The environment features highly on the agenda for many businesses and the pandemic has actually had a positive impact, both reducing physical impact as well as raising awareness of the issues. For us, sustainability runs through the heart of all our operations, having this year made a bold but very genuine move, pledging to be carbon neutral by 2030! Together with our ongoing work around our ISO and FSC certifications, all of our paper is now carbon captured which has helped to save over 25,000 m2 of forest and remove 75 tonnes of carbon from our manufacturing processes. We are proud to be helping our clients move towards the same, offering sustainable options and solutions to almost all their marketing projects, whether it’s merchandise, marketing materials, packaging, and/or deliveries.
5,500 projects & 4,000 deliveries
It’s been a very busy year! We are immensely proud to be working with all of our clients, locally, across the UK, and internationally, and we continue to be thankful for their support. Where restrictions saw many industries drastically reduce, and in some cases virtually cease their marketing activities, it has been fantastic to see so many projects once again appearing in the press and in the design studio, particularly our hotel and hospitality clients and universities. The events industry was by far the worst hit by COVID but there has been an upturn where many organisations have moved towards holding events virtually and we have worked with a number of our clients, such as the Hospice Income Generation Network to help create a physical connection for attendees and delegates through the creation of home packs and support literature.
We have seen real diversity in the projects we have been involved in this year. From an animation campaign for British Canoeing; to supporting leading convenience foods producer, Greencore with their internal brand, communications and recruitment; to our work on employee engagement and leadership programmes with multiple household brands alongside The Happy Learning Co; to the branding and design projects we have worked on for the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce; right through to the production of COVID support materials for the NHS.
We are particularly proud to be continuing our work with a number of local and national charities; including Macmillan Cancer Support, having worked on two of their major fundraising events: the Celestial Ball and The Macmillan Carol Concert; NHS Charities Together, supporting the creation of fundraising collateral around their Big Tea event, and our work with Lincoln BIG producing the promotional materials for the Lincoln Imp Trail which raised vital funds for St Barnabas Hospice. And we look forward to supporting the hospice further with the Lincs HeART Trail, due to launch in the summer of next year.
The very real impact of COVID
Our work in the local community is also hugely important to us. Most communities have been impacted as a result of the pandemic, with poverty being a real issue, and COVID has only served to exacerbate the problem, so we are proud and humbled to be continuing our support of the FiSH (Food in School Holidays) project, a local initiative, set up to help families across Lincolnshire who are experiencing financial difficulties. Poverty issues are always magnified at Christmas so the Ruddocks team recently held a raffle and donated all the money raised to provide food to the local food bank (also run by the same team who looks after the FiSH project) to help people in need at a particularly difficult time of year.
Possibly one of the biggest issues of the last, almost two years is the effect it has had on mental health. Working from home, furlough, redundancies and anxieties around health and the pandemic have impacted so many people. Staying in touch and helping staff feel connected has become a crucial function of HR teams and we have seen a huge expansion of projects around internal communications, specifically aimed at engagement, and we have recently been working with Greencore on the internal promotion of wellbeing tools and resources for their employees.
Positive & confident
We are all still dealing with uncertainty, and we know that’s likely to be the case for some time to come but we are positive and confident – in our team, our capabilities, our clients, and our vision for the future. We head into 2022 surefootedly yet cautiously; excited to take on all the opportunities and challenges the new year has to offer.