Happy 20 years to our Managing Director, Mr. John Evans

Monday, 4th July, 2016

Happy Birthday John Evans and AIT!

It’s a month of celebrations here at AIT headquarters as, can you believe it, John Evans has made it to 20 years as managing director!

As this is a very special occasion, we thought we’d speak with John and get some history on where the company began and ask him some other questions about the ID card industry.

John has over 30 years’ experience in the print and copy industry. He’s a very keen golfer and walker and spends his early mornings walking his dog, Archie!

So where did it all begin for John and the company?
John began ICS in June 1996, and it all began in his garage just like Steve Jobs! There were three people in the business back then with John as MD. He had been working in the ID card and printing industry for a long time but these three friends could see the future potential of the ID card industry, so decided to make the brave move and go it alone and set up Integrated Card Solutions aka ICS.

Six months later the company was doing so well the team had already moved to a  larger location (a bigger garage) and now had a workforce of six! John, one sales guy and four in tech support. Things were looking up!

The biggest changes Johns seen since he started the company
Back in the day ID badging was labour intensive, you had to be so careful of the handling, the cleaning and the basic care of the ID cards but today things are very different. The cards are now more robust and so much more intelligent. Other changes John has seen are in the programs used. Back when it all began there was only DOS and no Windows. An ID card 20 years ago also would only have a picture printed on it along with a barcode, now the cards are so much more intelligent and multiple things can be done with the same card

Negative changes that John has seen over 20 years
The changes John has seen over the years which he thinks have had a negative impact on the industry is that it has been driven too much by low prices and quality often gets overlooked. Customers would much rather pay 5p instead of 6p for an ID card without understanding the intelligence of that ID card or what it can do.

Customers often don’t understand the repercussions this has. For example a bad quality card will affect the print quality, the ribbon and the printer itself… so they may have saved 1p per card but what are the repercussions of this on poor print quality, unnecessary, wear and tear on ribbons and the printers? Customers don’t always appreciate the quality control aspect that a good supplier offers to ensure a good standard of card is produced, which in turn reflects positively on their company and delivers all that they require from the card. John believes it’s far too easy to buy ID consumables on the internet, at low prices and with little thought to whether they are getting a quality product..  Sometimes he wonders if customers realise or know where the cards originate or even if that are legal… China supply a lot of MiFare® cards but are they genuine NXP cards? Very doubtful, customers will take the cards at face value and think they are… Customers have to ask themselves ‘are they ethical?’ ‘Am I buying this for quality or price?’... NXP who patent the cards have legal companies working to make sure suppliers of these MiFare® cards are not supplying fake cards, this is a huge job for NXP and AIT support their efforts to ensure card standards are maintained.

Customers often overlook that when they work with AIT they are getting a full solution. It’s a one stop shop for everything. If you get a non-working card with us, you send it back and we replace it. The cards also go through various testing with us before going to the customer so chances of a non-working one are very rare. But if cards are bought from a supplier in China 15% may not work… they won’t be replaced and the customer loses money. Customers sometimes don’t understand the technology or  intelligence these cards provide and just focus on price, which John finds very frustrating.

A common scenario is customers will go to one supplier for cheap cards, one supplier for cheaper ribbons and another for a cheaper printer, but what happens when issues occur? They forget that if you buy from one specialist supplier like AIT, we will be there to fully support them and are providing them with a quality solution with quality products from a reputable source. AIT are more than just consumables, we have the best products, the best support, services and people.

What’s kept John in the industry and kept him getting out of bed every morning
John has enjoyed watching and being involved in the changes and improvements the industry has seen, and kept AIT at the forefront of quickly embracing many exciting new technologies. Facing new challenges, building a talented team and seeing staff flourish have always given John great enjoyment and kept his business life exciting and rewarding.

If John could change one thing about the industry what would it be?
John wished that there was more support from manufacturers of hardware and software Sometimes the developers of a software product or the manufacturers of hardware don’t appreciate the business end of the supply chain,they don’t see the bigger picture or appreciate exactly what the customers really want. They develop or manufacturer their product and that’s it. For example, some suppliers still have ‘back to factory’ warranty … the customer doesn’t receive a replacement whilst their printer is with the manufacturer and John thinks they are missing a trick here by not taking an opportunity to really stand out from the crowd in customer service terms.  Of course we work hard with our suppliers to influence these types of changes but John feels there is more to be done in this area.

What’s been the best year so far and why?
John’s best years have been some of the early years, when the challenges of creating a thriving business kept him on his toes!  Latterly the most challenging and enjoyable time was in 2010 when ICS merged with Altman Technologies to become AIT Limited. John says it was definitely his most testing and stressful time but massively rewarding and joyful to get through the other side and to have successfully merged two companies with great people. 

What are John’s predictions for the future?
As John says there will always be a need for an ID, whether it be at a university, hospital or in everyday life and it won’t  matter if that ID is on your phone, your figure or is an ID card or a fob, there will always be a need for what we sell, promote and support.

AIT, with expertise in integration, with in-house software developers and an exceptional team will always move with the times and supply what our customers want. John is confident that the team he has around him is what makes AIT successful and adaptable to industry changes.

John is excited to be moving into new product areas, such as access control and cashless solutions, which will broaden the customer base and grow the business over the next 20 years. Here’s to another fabulous 20 years!