McDowell Label strives to be an innovator within its market, President John McDowell says. Instead of letting the economy guide its strategy, “We identify what the customers’ demands are by vetting the brand owners we’re privileged to serve,” McDowell states.
The company employs purpose-driven strategies and dialogue to position itself in the market. “We’re like a sniper in that we create very precise targets and hit them,” he states.
Strategically based in Plano, Texas, the corporate-headquarter epicenter of the Dallas metroplex, the company provides label-decorating and packaging products to multiple CPG markets, including premium beverages, prestige cosmetics, sports nutrition/nutraceutical, gourmet foods and petritional brands, among others. “We strive to be an innovative pioneer when it comes to new brand-packaging technologies,” McDowell says.
His father, Dave McDowell, started the company in 1981 after working at Avery Labels for a decade. There, he worked for Stan Avery, “who has been coined as the grandfather of our industry,” John McDowell explains. “He created the first pressure-sensitive label.”
David Among Goliaths
Today, McDowell Label is “a proverbial David among Goliaths” in its industry, McDowell asserts. “Our team is constantly developing new technologies, processes and end-uses that enable the brand owner to achieve effective branding and invoke emotional engagement with the consumer via their printed packaging,” he says.
“Because of our innovation, our culture and the infrastructure we’ve developed, we can invoke a high level of velocity, serve emerging trends and unique market demands … all with extremely robust scale,” he continues. “We work with savvy brand owners who want their brand to be set apart in the retail arena in order to achieve greater shelf presence.”
McDowell Label often aligns itself with brand owners that share its culture, core values and core competencies. “By being properly aligned with the right type of customer base and the right supply chain partners, and being an innovative and market-driven company, we’ve been very blessed to make good decisions,” he states.
These decisions have paid off, as McDowell Label continues to do business with clients that it has worked with for close to three decades. “We’re always developing new business, but we’re very proud of the fact that we seldom lose customers,” he says.
McDowell Label enjoyed robust growth in 2015. “We just concluded one of the most significant capital investment campaigns last year,” McDowell recalls, noting that this included the implementation of new equipment and technologies that increased its capacity and capabilities. “We’re a very technology-focused label package printer.”
One of its most recent press acquisitions has a smaller footprint than the ones McDowell Label has used before, yet is the largest press in terms of print width and capabilities, including the number of print stations, etc. However, “The beauty of it is that today’s technology allows you to do more from a capability and capacity perspective with better space management,” he says.
“It’s pretty exciting to see what our operation is able to employ and achieve from a productivity perspective,” McDowell continues. “In the distant future, from a capability perspective, I will be replacing two presses with one and we’ll still increase our yield.”
McDowell Label also recently invested in 100 percent automated visual inspection technology.
“We have partnered with a major global OEM that developed a process and technology that is unique from the standard industry practice,” McDowell says.
This technology, he explains, ensures that every impression it prints is inspected. “It is done in such a way that has not stifled our productivity but yielded an increase in our productivity,” he says, noting that the company employed it throughout 2015. “It’s been an exciting advancement in this technology that we will continue to be on the forefront of expanding and developing.”
McDowell Label sets itself apart from competitors with its unique culture, Vice President of Technology Jay Luft says. “We do things categorically and purposely different than other people in our space,” he says.
For example, very seldom does McDowell Label need to hire from within the trade. “Because of the fact that we have such a high level of employee retainment and engagement, we always look to promote from within,” he says.
McDowell agrees. “It’s always rewarding to see members of your team grow and get promoted,” he says. “I’m proud of the overall professional and personal growth for each individual on the team at McDowell Label.”
But when the company does hire new team members, it makes sure they share its core values. “Many of the individuals on the team, from day one, buy into our culture,” Luft says.
The company ensures that they maintain those attitudes, McDowell adds. “We’re very much a self-policing organization,” he explains. “The team at McDowell makes sure that all new employees work within our guidelines and maintains that enthusiasm.”
Best in Class
McDowell Label will celebrate its 35th anniversary this year. “We’re very proud of the fact that as we study industry trends and ratios in the industry, we are perennially ranked best in class in employee engagement,” McDowell says.
In the years ahead, “I see our vision being precisely what it’s been for the past 35 years,” McDowell says, but notes that the company will need to create new benchmarks for its service.
“We are one company, one team, with one purpose – to provide innovative brand packaging solutions for those who demand excellence. Future areas for enterprise expansion will include product-decorating services for labels and shrink sleeves, as well as pouch forming.
“We will not only manufacture and print the package, but we will create stand-up gusseted pouch with a re-sealable zipper or some type of spout,” he predicts. “That will be a part of McDowell Label providing complete, decorated, turnkey solutions for labels, shrink sleeves and pouches.”