Commercial Printer Does PackagingNovember 2010 by Chris Mc Loone
The commercial printing side of the print industry has been struggling with several issues in recent years. Increased mail costs mean less direct mail; increased use of electronic media to communicate means less is printed (what is happening to newspapers is an excellent example); and the costs of raw materials have become an issue. Many commercial printers have transitioned to being marketing service providers, with some even eliminating the word "print" from their company literature. Others, like Tepel Brothers, have entered into the package-printing arena. This printer, one of the top 400 printers in the United States, with sales of greater than $23 million, recognized the niche it could fill as a package printer, in addition to the variety of other products it prints for a client base that includes automobile and greeting card manufacturers, casinos, financial concerns, and magazine publishers. However, Tepel Brothers staff was quick to identify it as an area to exploit. "Once our sales staff recognized the potential of what our capabilities had to offer, it quickly realized that we truly are a unique source for specialized processes and product offerings that we can produce," says Jim Tepel, company president. "It also has an impact on our client base. No longer do they need to travel hundreds of miles for press checks because the closest printer with our capabilities is in Chicago, or even further."
Tepel Brothers was founded in 1989 by Jim and Harriet Tepel. The company specializes in high-impact work on plastic and synthetics for a diverse client base. It first got into packaging about ten years ago after buying a folder/gluer and a diecutter. "For a number of years we didn't make much more progress than just doing o-cards—pretty much straight-line folding and gluing and making boxes for DVDs," says Jim Tepel. "From there, some of the other clients we had would come to us with a consumer product like an air filter. They'd ask, 'Can you guys do that?' Well, yeah, we can. And it just slowly evolved."
Today the company employs 110 people on two shifts, with about 20 dedicated to the printer's packaging work. About a year ago, 10 percent of Tepel Brothers's business was in packaging, and it is now near 20 percent. Looking ahead five years, Tepel expects to print more and more packaging. "I have one person on board today that just joined our team about four months ago, and he is almost strictly a packaging sales person. And plastics is his specialty. So we are going pursue that nationally and work with as many resellers and other packaging companies as we can that have special packaging work. I do see us evolving much more toward that than back in the commodity print market," he says."