MAXX – It’s been 25 years!

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MAXX – It’s been 25 years!

When I started MAXX on 8 September 1995 I wanted to create my version of a ‘virtual’ business. Working out of my 10 by 8 ft study, my vision was to control an organisation made up of freelancers and contracted staff, using just my wits, a landline, mobile phone and fax machine. 

Little did I know that in 2020, 25 years later, that is how MAXX (and many other businesses) are currently working. The major effect of Covid-19 has been to compel successful companies to work virtually. But enough about that…let me tell you how it all started.

Having run a very successful creative agency in Basingstoke called KAG Design, I realised in 1995 that I needed to do something different and was persuaded by many of the managers of Motorola, then the largest mobile phone company in the world, to join them working for a new Philips Electronics start-up factory not in the UK, but in Le Mans, central France. Philips had head-hunted the Motorola people and they liked me, so off I went, forming MAXX Design.  I needed a name for my new business and decided upon MAXX,  named after Max, my ancient teddy bear!

The first 18 months meant me travelling to France every week, sometimes three times a week, by ferry from Portsmouth to Caen in Normandy and driving in my metallic green Fiat Uno to Le Mans. Whilst this was very hard on me and my family, it helped me grow the business from zero to 11 people and a £400,000 turnover within a year. Blimey and phew!

The business remained a graphic design and print agency and had its ups and downs which I really won’t bore you with here. MAXX in its current form started when I met Catherine Jenkins and Jackie Blaker back in 2006. These two amazing, highly experienced and professional women introduced so many key skills into the company and together we raised our standards to an incredibly high level.

Jackie and Catherine brought digital experience to the team and initially we formed a separate company called MAXX Digital and ran it alongside MAXX Design – eventually our digital developers and our design creatives were working so well together that we merged the two businesses to form one MAXX.  We’ve proudly built our team up, making us one of the largest local creative agencies and have expanded our range of services from just design and digital to include, hosting and support, marketing and planning, digital communications (social media), video, and content. We provide a fully integrated service to our clients as so many of our skills complement each other.

From humble beginnings 

After working in my aforementioned study for a few months I realised that I needed to create a ‘proper’ business. So I sent my wife Katie out to find an office, which she did – four rooms above a furniture store in the middle of Newbury. We regularly had visitors from Philips and my spoken French was improving weekly. Having built the team up as I’ve mentioned, Philips then decided to move the English managers to Hong Kong to start a new Chinese manufacturing plant and switch all of the services MAXX had provided to in-house French personnel.

This was a challenging time for us as Philips’ work had made up around 80% of MAXX’s sales. After panicking (a lot!) it dawned on me that what we needed were more customers. So I found them, some of whom are still customers to this day - thank you for your unswerving loyalty, brought about by our unwavering service.

When the furniture store closed down in 1997 we had to move. We found some beautiful canal-side offices in a building called Bankside House, opposite the Lock Stock and Barrel pub. Ironically, it’s only a few metres from our current office. These premises gave us the credibility we needed to win larger clients and really establish our reputation. Matt, our longest-serving team member joined us here, back in 2002, as a graphic designer. 

Again, we had to move when our landlord sold the building to make way for a new apartment development and in 2004, we moved to one of the oldest buildings in Newbury, dating back to 1400. Every room was timber-framed and beautiful, which suited us well.

In 2015 we relocated to our current offices – 2 Toomers Wharf – which we worked very hard to make our own, stamping our branding and company personality into the building to make it a great place to visit and work.

Our greatest assets

You may have heard the saying that your team members are always the greatest asset to a good business, and that’s 100% true. Equally as important are our clients, suppliers, our team’s supportive families and our business advocates, who slowly spread the word about our values, building that difficult to define thing – our reputation.

But what hasn’t changed?

Looking back, it’s inevitable that as a business we’ve grown more than I ever anticipated back in 1995. However, we understand the importance of keeping our ethics and goals the very same as they were 25 years ago.

Our longer-term customers often tell us that they have grown to enjoy the personal relationship we deliver. “The team at MAXX really cares about us” is a phrase we have heard many times. 

We are completely honest in our business, and we’ve always said we would always work in the way that we would want someone to do business with us. It stands us in good stead both ethically and business-wise as we have a really great, honest relationship with our suppliers, community and our customers.

Into the future

In these peculiar Covid-19 times no business is certain what the future may hold. However, we are determined that we will continue to embrace change, listen to our customers, do our utmost to serve them well and continue to “do business the right way”.

So finally, I would like to thank our customers, from our first client in 1995 to our most recently onboarded clients in 2020 and all those in between. We couldn’t have got this far without you and we hope to provide you with great work that will transform your businesses for many years to come.

25 years of headlines

  • We’ve been in business for 9,131 days, which is 300 months or 25 years
  • First office party was Katie and Dermot enjoying sausages with baked beans on toast
  • We hit our first £1 million turnover back in 2014
  • Combined age of all current MAXX people is 758 years
  • In 2019, we were nominated for “Marketing Agency of the Year, up to 50 employees” and won the 2019 International CSR Award
  • Longest-standing client at 21 years is 3i, the leading international investment organisation
  • Weirdest enquiry was from someone who had invented a game that involved players going round a board, buying property and charging rent. I told him about Monopoly and the job was cancelled!