Pictureproducts – Reflecting on 40 years of creating memories
In 1977, it started as a home business with the vision of helping schools raise funds. Operating out of a garage in the suburbs of Sydney, their melamine plates were marketed around Australia, manufactured by a contractor in Melbourne.
Pictureproducts has evolved into a well known and loved fundraising company who are celebrating a special milestone. This year they celebrate 40 years of creating lasting memories in the form of their melamine Pictureplates. These days, they manufacture the Pictureplates from their own factory in Sydney.
An ever popular fundraising with many schools, preschool and kindergartens, there are many, many families around the country who would have a Pictureplate (or two) in their kitchens cupboards from when they were kids!
Eight years ago, Toby Griffin took over the running of this family business. We spoke with him about the evolution of Pictureproducts.
Q: Give us a big picture of 40 years of Pictureproducts?
A: After being successful quite early on, Pictureproducts became a full-time business within a few years. The family moved to a farm in the Hawkesbury district of western Sydney and established an office in one of the paddocks.
Running an office on a farm was interesting. Horses were always getting through the fences and turning up at the back door. We’d sometimes have to explain to customers on the phone what the neighing sound was. We also had a few run-ins with bushfires, but fortunately never had any incidents of damage.
Throughout the period, additional products have come and gone – jigsaws, mugs, placemats – and so have some high profile clients – a Sydney rugby league team, a Fijian resort – but the core business has always been the Pictureplate, and helping schools raise funds and we continue to provide the same long-lasting melamine Pictureplate that parents remember from when they were kids.
Q: How has fundraising changed in that time?
Fundraising has become a great deal harder! There are very many more opportunities on offer for the fundraising coordinator to choose between. On the other hand, parent volunteers have so much less time to give to the school with their own lives becoming busier, and funding cuts to the education system mean the fundraising committee is often put under pressure to run more and more events.
The increase in various regulations also means some of our customers simply cannot fundraise at all. These customers now run Pictureproducts at cost price so they don’t have to handle any money.
In addition, some parents prefer to just pay a ‘fundraising levy’ to the school and bypass all fundraising events completely.
Q: What have you learned from your experiences?
Keep it simple! As fundraising coordinators have less and less time to devote to running a project, ease of use becomes a key selling point. Our primary focus has to be on making the fundraising experience simple and enjoyable. Nobody has the time or energy for handling mountains of paperwork.
Particularly in the last 10 years, we have come to see our schools and centres as partners, rather than customers. Our responsibility doesn’t stop at shipping out product – we work together to make a profitable fundraiser together.
Provide a good service, and you’ll keep loyal customers. We’ve had competitors come and go in the melamine plate space, but none have lasted more than a few years because our customers trust us to make a top-quality product that their kids will treasure forever – because they themselves made Pictureplates when they were kids.
Q: What does celebrating 40 years mean to you?
It validates the decision made all those years ago by my mum and dad, a waitress and a teacher, to put their savings into a stack of brochures and follow their dreams.
Reading the reviews that our products regularly receive gives you an understanding of why this business has stood the test of time. Happy customer after happy customer keeps coming back year after year to successfully raise funds for their group. Here are some Pictureplates throughout the decades:
To learn more
If you’d like your children to be involved with creating their own little slice of history, Toby and the team at Pictureproducts would love to help with your next fundraiser. Click here to order your free starter kit now.