The trend toward frequent rebranding has created a great deal of activity in the labeling industry, but also represents a fundamental market change for printers such as California-based Label Impressions Inc. Companies no longer want to hold large stockpiles of labels because the design of the box or logo could change in six months. Rebranding has made it difficult to forecast orders so Label Impressions has made hefty investments in equipment and green energy to continue growing its business while improving profit margins.
Ted Salisbury founded Label Impressions in 1988 as a small printer with three presses doing a few hundred thousand dollars in sales each year. It was Ted’s son, Jeff Salisbury, who grew the business into the mid-sized labeler category with revenues over $10 million annually. Label Impression’s workforce has expanded with its sales, going from five employees in the late 1980s to nearly 50 today.
Throughout that growth, Jeff Salisbury, now owner and president, has continued to invest in the latest printing and labeling technologies to ensure Label Impressions remains a service-driven company. Label Impressions now has six 17-inch-wide Nilpeter presses and is certified in high-definition flexographic printing, the highest standard in label and flexible film printing.
Several recent equipment investments have been aimed at improving the efficiencies and abilities Label Impressions can offer customers. The entire production facility has been outfitted with a trim removal system, which allows the company to purchase narrower material, increase run speeds, decrease waste and ultimately lower costs to the customer. Every press now has cold foiling equipment while one 17-inch machine is outfitted with a butt splicer, turret rewinder, and ink pumps allowing it to operate 24/7 on larger label and film runs. The company’s new equipment allows for rotary screen printing, shrink film, pouch film and stand-up pouches. An online proofing system also has streamlined the pre-press process by sending clients text or email notices whenever changes are made.
Although the focus is labeling, the company is capable of handling complex turnkey products as well. Salisbury gives the example of a customer that produces hand wipes: Label Impressions prints the packaging film, inserts the wipes and ships the product for distribution.
“There’s not a lot we can’t do,” Salisbury says proudly.
The total value of investments in 2014 was $1.5 million, and Label Impressions recently spent another $500,000 for more modern finishing and inspection equipment. That has allowed jobs to move from printing to out-the-door in the same day. “We’ve dramatically reduced our work-in-progress inventory,” Salisbury says.
Labels Impression operates one 30,000-square-foot facility with about 10,000 square feet of storage space, but the company is planning a second manufacturing facility in California. That new location would specialize in making shrink sleeves and unit cartons; however, the expansion plan is still in the early stages and Salisbury declined to share further details. “There’s a lot of change,” Salisbury adds. “We’re constantly reinvesting in the company. Employees get pretty excited in that.”
The wide range of capabilities has attracted nearly 6,000 customers to Label Impressions. “People come to us with their difficult jobs when it has to be really high quality,” Salisbury says. Much of that business stems from West Coast clients, but Label Impressions’ booklet and coupon work has drawn companies from the East Coast as well. Among those buyers are marketing experts, food and beverage companies and cosmetic retailers. In addition to capabilities, Salisbury says customers are looking for a strong value proposition, which Label Impressions can provide.
Being able to fit the scale of virtually any job is another way Label Impressions has improved service to customers. Although large clients might need a few million labels each week, digital technologies allow the company to print runs for orders as small as a few hundred labels for customers that want to test a new design or have fresh stock for a trade show. Once that customer is ready to turn the test design into a full-fledged rollout, Label Impressions can move the product over to the HD flexographic press, which is able to match the near-perfect quality of digital at a lower per-unit price. “There’s no trade off for [the client] when they make that switch to lower their cost,” Salisbury says.
Creating an environmentally sustainable company has been one of Salisbury’s missions. The company has been carbon neutral since 2005, utilizes wind power for a portion of its energy needs and is certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council. Clients have noticed the prioritization of green efforts and Salisbury explains sustainability is now being factored into the bidding process. “It does push people in our direction,” he says.
A green mind may clear Salisbury’s conscience, but sustainability efforts are also important to the bottom line. Label Impressions recently invested in a battery storage system that can hold excess energy created by solar and wind power during peak periods of production, and then tap into that stored electricity during off-peak times. The end-result is a stable power output from renewable energy sources. That battery system has allowed Label Impressions to cut its energy use by 60 kilowatt hours, reducing electricity costs.
To better understand its power use, Label Impressions installed cutting edge energy-monitoring software paired with a large battery storage system. The company then formed an energy efficiency team comprised of employees who meet regularly with an energy consultant to develop ways to cut the company’s power consumption. The team has since proposed a facility-wide lighting switch to LED bulbs and the use of occupancy sensors to automatically turn off lights when no one is in a room. Salisbury estimates those measures will free up between 80 and 100 amps of power each day.
The commitment to sustainability even goes beyond reducing energy use. In 2009, Label Impressions developed FiberStone, a tree-free paper made of calcium carbonate blended with a non-toxic film. The product is waterproof but uses no water or chemical bleaching. Salisbury explains FiberStone fits perfectly into Label Impressions’ message and philosophy. “We realized focusing on sustainability makes us a better, more efficient company,” Salisbury says.