Willingness to change with the times has seen the business survive and compete
Great businesses can come from anywhere - just ask Rodney Frost, Group CEO of The Lamson Group. His father, Arthur Frost, was homeless as a teenager, but was given an opportunity to sell newspapers on trams. He eventually worked his way up to selling print and in the mid 1980s brought EFTPOS to Australia.
From there, Frost established The Lamson Paragon Group as a wholesale provider with some of the people he'd met in his early career. Lamson Paragon Group originally started purely as a trade provider that supplied business forms and security print products to a range of companies across Australia.
In the 1990s, however, Arthur was approached by the banks to provide competition to the (at the time) single company that was producing cheque books in Australia. He started off a business called Cheque-Mates, and then saw another opportunity in the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in 2000. This caused receipts to become much longer, and Arthur created Paper Rolls Australia to fill this need.
Adapt and thrive
'We're a family business that's been running for 27 years and is still continuing to provide stable employment for people around the world. We've only been able to do this through adapting.'
The Lamson Paragon Group is a prime example of a business which has had to adapt in the face of changing technologies and circumstances, and risen to this challenge at every step of the way. For example, with the decline in cheque use, Cheque-Mates has moved into high end integrated communications and automation solutions.
Rodney, who's been involved with the business ever since he was twelve but was formally taken on board when he finished school in 1997, says the changing technological landscape has been the hard part of the journey.
'We've had to adapt to the changes in technology that time has brought. This has meant we've continually had to reinvent ourselves and invest in different areas. The lessons I've learned from this really centre around the need to constantly adapt in business to ensure you remain relevant.'
A legend of the industry
'There always a healthy mix of opinions held by those who own their business, and those who are CEOs – both offer valuable perspectives that have helped me to make more informed decisions.'
Arthur Frost's amazing ability to adapt and seize opportunities earned him The Printing Industry’s Legend Award in 2016. This is a print industry award that commemorates those who have brought about major change in the industry. For Arthur, this was about not just bringing EFTPOS to Australia, but also magnetic stripe ticketing (the magnetic stripe that you'll find on many bus and train tickets).
The award really highlighted the impact Arthur's had and how he's given back his success to the community through his support of a number of leading charities. These have included those that help the homeless, as well as his involvement in the East Coast Eagles football club.
Growth and Guidance
'I've said several times at my TEC meetings that I wouldn't be in the position I am in today if it wasn't for the insights, support and guidance of my fellow members. I hope I’ve delivered as much back to my group too.'
TEC gives you the opportunity to go beyond the limits of your business. Your group is there to encourage you, challenge you and celebrate your success. There’s not a time I don’t leave our TEC meetings inspired, motivated and revitalised.
I remember saying to myself in my first TEC meeting, 'God, I’m so lucky to be involved in this.' Those first few meetings were confronting, but incredibly valuable. I was too content and needed a push to continue building something great, and TEC delivers just that.
The impact TEC has had
'I wanted a place where I could go and learn and invest in my own personal and professional development. I didn't really know that I needed it at the time, but having a non-executive board that would hold me accountable and give me a place to present ideas and work through challenges together is something that I've found invaluable on my business journey.'
Rodney first got involved with TEC in 2008. At the time, he'd been given valuable insight into business from his father and brother, but had no other mentorship opportunities.
'I get the best value from the group sessions TEC holds. In the last few years, we've expanded our business into the Philippines, something I would never have done were it not for the support and backing of my TEC Chair at the time. He pushed me to commercialise the business model, and this has resulted in a business that not only supports Lamson Paragon Group but a range of companies across Australia.'
TEC has also helped Rodney with a broad variety of issues that come up every day when you're in business. Not only this, it's created a community that Rodney has loved being a part of. 'I've known people at TEC for eight or nine years, and we're all great friends. It's wonderful having that community.'