Diversification Leads to Market Expansion
It can be a wise decision for converters looking for an edge over their competition to explore the possibility of expanding into new markets and broadening their product scope. For those willing to expand their technology footprint via multiple print processes, doors to new markets and clients can be revealed.
At the 100,000 sq. ft. Wayne Trademark facility in High Point, N.C., digital, offset and flexographic printing technologies work in tandem to produce tags, labels, folding cartons, decals and other packaging solutions for the apparel, automotive, food and beverage, low tech (computer ink and printers) and lighting industries.
COO Doug Burrow notes that the company partners with its customers to find the best printing solution to effectively produce projects for their clients.
“A lot of times a customer won’t tell us what process they want to produce their job,” he reveals. “So we will get the artwork and see what the job will entail, and then we will make the decision on what process is best to get the job done.”
Burrow states that offering multiple print processes gives the company competitive advantages in hard-fought markets.
“It makes us flexible, since flexo and offset are basically two different market avenues as far as the products that are produced,” he says. “But digital can be used for labels, tags or cartons, and it really works well for short runs. It has become a really great tool for us when doing presentations or mock-ups or to produce a couple of samples for a customer.”
Founded in 1938, Wayne Trademark also offers film lamination and foil stamping services, and has an in-house prepress department. It is home to Mark Andy, Nilpeter and Webtron flexo presses, Heidelberg and Komori offset presses, and a seven-color HP Indigo WS4000 digital press. The company’s flexographic and offset equipment prints up to eight colors, and boasts UV curing technology.
Wayne Trademark’s prepress employees are cross-trained on all the shop’s print processes, while press operators are specialized to one production area.
The ability to handle short run lengths is important when customers need to do test runs or launch new products, Burrow adds. Short-run digital work has presented opportunities to enter new markets and allowed the company to produce packaging using a wider range of substrates.
“We now can handle jobs that we wouldn’t be able to do with flexo or offset without incurring a large expense,” Burrow contends. “It has opened up a lot of new markets to us.”
Wayne Trademark also uses its digital printing capabilities as a marketing tool, boasting to clients that the company’s HP Indigo digital press helps reduce the firm’s environmental impact by decreasing waste, energy use and overruns. Clients who may be wary of digital printing on certain stocks are offered samples as well as guidance by Wayne Trademark employees before a print process is chosen.
Burrow adds that some of the company’s more print-savvy customers are aware that the company stands out from some of its competitors, since it offers a broader range of printing capabilities.
“Others don’t care how it is done, just that it is produced in the least expensive way,” he says.
Meanwhile, Hammer Packaging in Rochester, N.Y., offers flexo, sheetfed, roll-to-sheet and web offset and digital printing solutions to customers seeking custom labels and flexible packaging.
“And then throw in there hot stamping, cold foil and a variety of different finishing techniques and it is a very unique flow that we have going on here that allows us to move with our clients,” Lou Iovoli, senior VP, says.
This permits Hammer Packaging to offer clients what Iovoli calls “total reproduction.”
“And what that means is that you may have a shrink sleeve, and it is a new product launch, and it is very limited,” Iovoli explains. “Well, from a cost perspective, it may not be very efficient to run that on a very large web offset press like the rest of your products, which are well-established. So we are going to run that on a narrow-web flexo press. But the total reproduction goal means that I have to replicate the look of that brand using UV flexo to match what I do with web offset.”
Iovoli continues by saying that this corporate mindset extends to very short-run, limited test market projects produced on digital presses.
“This means that my ability to match web offset, UV flexo and digital has to be spot-on,” he stresses. “That is our total reproduction goal for our clients. So whatever the technology is that we offer, we are going to work with our state-of-the-art prepress department to make sure that we are providing total reproduction across the platforms.”
Hammer Packaging serves the food and beverage, household, wine and spirit, personal care and horticultural markets. Iovoli points out that Hammer Packaging can handle product packaging from concept all the way to product maturity, which is important for clients that are focusing on new products and trial runs.
“A huge value to having multiple platforms is the fact that we have to be able to change with our customer’s changes,” Iovoli stresses. “In the old days, when we were primarily a sheetfed offset house, if a customer said they were moving to roll-fed labels, we would have to say goodbye to the business. So we reinvented ourselves because we needed to be not just sheetfed, but also web-based — and once we became web-based it opened up a whole world of different products that customers are constantly asking us for.”
Having a variety of press options helps converters remain nimble and allows them to become more than just an ink-on-substrate provider.
“We have really become an engineering company,” Iovoli states, explaining that Hammer Packaging often fields inquiries from customers who want to change their current packaging and need prices for a variety of labeling options.
“We can create the die lines, 3D scan the bottle and create imagery that they can look at three-dimensionally on a computer screen with multiple different label styles on it,” he continues. “And then we have the platforms to produce any of those styles of labels.”
Iovoli adds that major consumer product companies that hold the biggest brands are constantly trying to boost appeal for their products. These tweaks can occur in a host of ways, from totally changing the product, adding new ingredients, or by attempting to make the product healthier.
“But every time they make a change, their packaging also changes,” he concludes. “What we see in the marketplace is that these companies are constantly changing their packaging for the same brand. We allow customers to change their packaging but keep the consistency of the brand.”