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Soar Print is celebrating 100 years in business, with the occasion marked by a surprise party for the owners Tui, Fred and Vicky Soar and Jenny Carter by the staff, for the company which began operations in November 1920.

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100 not out: Soar Print owners Tui Soar, Fred Soar, Vicky Soar and Jenny Carter

Fred Soar, managing director of the business said the reason for the company's longevity was "dogged determination", saying "No-one chooses print."

Soar Print is the oldest print business in New Zealand, now operating from its plant in Auckland and its Fusion Print site in Hamilton, with 80 staff . Fred Soar said, "We have always believed in innovation, in investment and in progress."

The business was established by the grandfather of the current managing director, also named Fred Soar, when he started printing business cards and ferry timetables. Save for his time serving overseas in WWII, Fred ran it until 1965, when he handed over to his son, and Fred junior’s father, Harry Soar.

Harry ran the business during the day while still working for the New Zealand Herald at night where he set headlines, combining both roles for 17 years. Then, in 1972, a trip to drupa saw Harry come back with one of the new Heidelberg GTOs, the company switching into offset from letterpress, and the modern era was born.

Fred and his sisters Jenny Carter and Vicky Soar joined the business in the 1990s, and the next 25 years saw a period of rapid expansion through acquisition, with some 13 Kiwi print businesses bought by Soar.

Soar Print was also an environmental pioneer, declaring itself carbon neutral back in 2011, and has won numerous awards ever since for its eco-friendly operation.

The company has remained a Heidelberg house since the first GTO was installed – its latest press, the CX-102 six-colour plus coater, a first in the region on the subscription model. It was a pioneer in digital printing, and today 45 per cent of its print is digital. In the last decade the company has also added large format printing, labels and packaging printing to its portfolio.

Click here to read the full story on Soar's 100 years in the online version of Print21.

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