Interview with Nigel McNaught of the PMA

Duncan McDonald Explores the UK School of Framing Training Program

Interview with the Professional Picture Framers AssociationAs the Professional Picture Framers Association starts to offer courses in the framing business and framing techniques to PMA members, Nigel McNaught spoke with Duncan McDonald, founder of the UK School of Framing, about how he got into the framing business.

Nigel McNaught, PMA

NMcN: How did you start?

DMcD: At first it was to save a bit of money. We had just bought our first house and needed some pictures on the wall so I took a pile of photos and prints to my local framer with £100 budget. After discussing the first small print the assistant said and that will be £60! I made my excuses and left stating that I would get one done every month.

Duncan McDonald, DIYframingI shot straight down to the DIY store bought a saw and mitre block, and some architrave and made my own. Well tried to. The gaps coupled with the green tinted greenhouse glass I used gave a... what shall I say "Rustic" appearance. I needed to be taught how to do this properly.

Where did you train to do it properly?

I looked all over to find a proper framing course and the only one I could find was an evening class in a local college. The tutor was a very nice guy but he was a woodworker not a framer. The tools to say the least were basic, we used a Stanley knife to cut the mounts! The weekly queue to use the tools infuriated me as there was a little old lady who always pushed in front of me and hogged the piece of equipment for what seemed like most of the evening. I quit after 3 visits.

However it didn't stop me and I eventually found a framer who took me under his wing and in turn for some help he showed me the ropes. After gaining confidence by doing a lot of framing for friends and family, I set up a home business working from my garage. This became such a success that it wasn't long before I purchased a failing framing business in Beaconsfield and started my framing empire in earnest. I turned things around in a very short time and now 10 years later it is a thriving business employing three framers and making a tidy profit.

What do you do now?

I stood back from the framing shop about 5 years ago and started a mail order business selling framing products on the internet I called the business this was an immediate success as it catered for the type of person like myself who were unable to find simple framing tools and materials in small quantities. Now we cater for people going into business offering larger machines and trade terms on materials.

How did the UK School of Framing come about?

I was asked if we did courses on many occasions by people visiting our outlet so I set up a Basics of framing course. The feedback from this first course was really encouraging so I started to increase the size of the classes, then the locations. Within 6 months the courses were so successful I advertised for a training co-ordinator who was tasked with building a series of courses for beginners, the programme grew rapidly now we run 13 individual courses throughout the country covering subjects from Basics of Framing to setting up a professional workshop. In 2007 we trained over 500 people to frame. This year we launched the UK School of Framing and have received accreditation from both the Professional Picture Framers Association and the Fine Arts Trade Guild making us the first training establishment to be accredited by both.

How does the UK School of framing work?

We have a number of individual 1 and 2 day modules that can be completed individually or in a block intensive week; training can start at the very beginning or at a more advanced stage. For example existing framers may have specialised in just one type of project for many years then suddenly find a new market open up such as framing football shirts or similar. Now you can either read a book, make it up as you go along or join a course and learn how to do it properly. Taking into consideration you should be making over £100 profit on framing a football shirt it won't take many shirts to cover the cost of the course.

Do you believe people need to be trained?

Yes. Bespoke framing is all about offering a great service backed up with a sound knowledge of what you are doing. After all people trust you with some very precious possessions if you damage or frame them badly it could be a very costly mistake.

Even framers who are very experienced can get some excellent training relating to the business side of things. We cover many subjects of how you can market your business to its full potential and get in more work than you can handle by following a few easy steps.

What Packages do you offer?

Simple; we offer a full training programme unrivalled in the UK starting at the very basics and leading the framer to whatever level they may wish to reach such as Certified Picture Framer standard. We also offer a consultancy service for businesses who are finding it difficult to build the business and need a plan of action to put them on the path to success.

Nigel McNaught, PMAFinally how have you got involved in the Professional Picture Framers Association?

Duncan McDonald, DIYframingI studied the setup in the USA and was very impressed with the way things were done so much so I attended the PPFA conference in Las Vegas this year; 600+ delegates attended the 3 day conference and enjoyed seminars and workshops as well as a tremendous social occasion. I spoke to many framers and they all had one thing in common: the enthusiasm and passion to build really good framing businesses. I aim to help this model be translated into the British market.


Posted on: 21 Jul 2008@07:42:13, updated on: 21 Jul 2008@07:42:13.