Empine is a business based at the Bridge at Darwen Aldridge Community Academy.

If there’s one thing that successful people have in common, it’s passion. Passion is a creator of world-leading businesses, it wins promotions and it is a great inspirer of others. The story of Darwen business Empine is an illustration of passion in action.

Jacob Knowles and Anthony Taylor have been friends for many years. They enjoyed the early stages of their careers, Jacob in a role that saw him encourage people to start sailing and Anthony as a print production manager. But they felt that something was missing – they had a burning passion to create their own business.

Our budding entrepreneurs had an issue. They struggled to find a home for their idea in their hometown of Darwen, where business premises are at a premium and tend to be inflexible spaces with long leases.

A solution came from Darwen Aldridge Community Academy, which was looking for ambitious growth companies to take space at The Bridge, home to Darwen Creates – an Aldridge Foundation initiative.

With a place at Aldridge Creates secured, printing firm Empine was born, handling everything from the smallest print job to large print management contracts. Anthony has a printing background and heads up the technology and innovation side of the business, while Jacob handles the commercial side. But both have a passion for print media and its power to educate and inspire.

“We have created three divisions: commercial print for conventional jobs, print management for large scale contracts and, importantly, educational print,” explains Jacob. The pair are passionate about innovation in the print industry and how it can be applied in education. “We have recommended special paper tints for use with dyslexic pupils,” says Jacob. “This product is not widely available but we have been able to actively advise schools on its use.”

Empine has experienced fantastic commercial growth (turnover predicted to be £250,000 in the next year) and it has played an important role in school life – notably when working with Community Kids, the Team Academy group that created and printed a calendar for their Tycoon for Schools entry.

“This is the magic of being located here, Empine’s CSR activity, like our Print2Learn initiatives, are part of our daily life and it is as rewarding for us as it is for the young people,” says Anthony. Having a fast-growth business in the heart of the school is a clear demonstration of the effectiveness of the Aldridge Foundation approach.