3 Sigma Corp.

Since 1980, Ohio-based 3 Sigma Corp. has been recognized as a thought leader in the development of coating and laminated products for the labeling industry. Vice President of Sales and Marketing Terry Cudney says the expertise and development know-how that the company offers are just as important to its customers as the actual physical products it manufactures. “Everybody thinks that all companies have a product line, and 3 Sigma does and doesn’t,” he says. 

Thanks to the company’s diverse capabilities and dedication to research and development, Cudney adds, 3 Sigma has become a go-to provider for customers looking to develop their own proprietary labeling products. Although much of what the company does is made especially for specific customers, 3 Sigma also is a leader in the production of standardized products used across a wide cross-section of the labeling market. 

The company was founded with a focus on making price labels, but over time 3 Sigma has diversified to add a wide array of capabilities. Cudney says this has allowed the company to foster a unique customer base that is more diverse than virtually any other company in the label space. He says the majority of the company’s business serves label stock converters, but its products touch almost every industrial application imaginable, and the company continues to expand outside of label stock into other sectors of the market. No matter who it serves, Cudney says, 3 Sigma has become a vital contributor to its customers’ operations, filling a niche few others would be able to. “We’re an extremely specialized company,” he says.

Although the marketplace has become extremely competitive in recent years, Cudney says 3 Sigma has been adapting to the changes. He says a strong internal culture centered on customer service has helped the company maintain its edge over the growing number of competitors in the industry. But 3 Sigma’s ability to take on new capabilities and expand its offerings to become even more valuable to its customers will be the key for the company’s continued success in the years to come. 

Positive Culture

Even though the company has extensive capabilities thanks to its state-of-the-art technology and internal expertise, Cudney says 3 Sigma’s greatest advantage is its people. “I think the workforce here has a very positive, can-do attitude,” he says. “They seem to enjoy challenges and they seem to enjoy making difficult products.” 

That works to the company’s benefit because 3 Sigma manufactures a number of products that other coating companies either don’t have the capabilities to make or are unwilling to make them. As a matter of fact, Cudney says, 3 Sigma often receives referrals from its competitors when customers come to them looking for products that they are unable or unwilling to take on themselves. “People come to us looking for things that they may not be able to get anywhere else,” he says.

Among the company’s unique capabilities is 3 Sigma’s ability to create products of any web size, many times without running a full-sized web. “It’s a very different beast compared to what I’ve seen in the marketplace,” Cudney says. “I’ve seen some amazing things done with this equipment.”

In recent years, 3 Sigma has added on to its stable of equipment to provide greater capabilities for its customers. “The biggest change the company has gone through over the last 10 years is that we acquired two solvent coaters in 2006, and those have allowed us to get into adhesives and applications that we weren’t able to do before,” Cudney says. 

Adding Capabilities

3 Sigma has expanded its product lines into water-soluble stocks and adhesives for the food industry, which Cudney says represents a lot of untapped potential for growth for the company. Other types of products 3 Sigma has in its repertoire include dual-adhesive labels, which not every company in the industry wants to do because it is so specialized. For 3 Sigma, however, specialization for its customers is the company’s top priority. 

To that end, 3 Sigma continues to look for new ways to fill more specific needs for its customers. For example, the company recently brought online a new 80-inch coater with multiple coating heads. 

Cudney explains that the company wants to continue looking for opportunities to add to its capabilities and find new, innovative equipment that can do things that are outside of the norm for the industry. 

An example of specialization that 3 Sigma is gearing up for is the rise of printed electronics, which includes labels that include RFID circuitry for easier location of items in a warehouse. “Labels are going to be able to do so much more in the future, it’s going to be amazing,” Cudney says. 

Still On Top

3 Sigma wants to differentiate itself from its rivals because the competition has attempted to increase their focus on the specialty market. Many of 3 Sigma’s competitors have expanded into products that at one time were more or less exclusive to 3 Sigma. These developments have spurred the company to move outside of its pure label stock focus, and Cudney says it is the biggest challenge the company faces. 

Not only is the competition changing, but Cudney says 3 Sigma has seen its customer base change, as well. As companies merge and acquire each other to become more competitive in the marketplace, fewer and fewer mom-and-pop operations are left. The larger companies that are taking their place also are putting a greater emphasis on controlling costs, meaning a lot of downgauging to more cost-effective materials and products. Despite the obvious challenges, however, Cudney says 3 Sigma has the people, equipment and capabilities in place to continue to hold onto its position as one of the best in the business.

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