Calm, Cool Converting
Palmas Printing continues to reinvent itself to more effectively meet the needs of an expanding customer base.April 2012 By Sue Busch
With a name originally inspired by the Puerto Rican beach resort town of Palmas del Mar (which in English means "sea palms"), Palmas Printing offers its customers an oasis of sorts from the ever-changing demands of the packaging marketplace. Case in point: cigar companies, Palmas' primary customer segment, have counted on Palmas to continuously—and with seamless calm—re-strategize and retool its printing and converting capabilities, as cigar packaging has effectively transformed from labeling to flexible packaging configurations. Jim Love, vice president, confirms that Palmas "has morphed repeatedly to stay capable of what our clients want and what the environment we operate in requires."
Printing, converting, and finishing firm George Schmitt & Co. (based in Guilford, Conn.), a family-owned company led by third-generation owner Robert Gunther, founded Palmas in 1974 in order to serve the cigar band business via a separate Puerto Rico-based gravure unit in close proximity to primary tobacco clients. According to Love, Palmas has remained a primary supplier to the cigar industry because of the specialized capabilities it has honed for this small market segment, including multiple print processes (everything over the years from gravure and letterpress to rotary screen, hot stamping, and flexo), nested printing designs, and roll re-registration diecutting for roll form cigar bands. Still under the ownership of the Gunther family, Palmas enjoys an underlying stability that facilitates its nimble reactions to customers' fluctuating market needs. Love explains that George Schmitt & Co.'s history sets a strong corporate tone for reinvention: Schmitt began as a lithographic company in 1874 and today is a multiple-location, multiple-process printing, finishing, and converting services firm. "Palmas inherited this ability to regularly re-invent itself and stay viable," he observes.
In the past ten years alone, Palmas has navigated an impressive succession of major operational changes, all designed to more effectively serve present and future customers. In 2006, the company transitioned its production capabilities from Juncos, Puerto Rico to Melbourne, Fla. in order to consolidate its facility within a larger, 30,000-sq.-ft. plant environment. Concurrent with the production move, Palmas discontinued all gravure and letterpress printing in favor of flexo printing. Says Love, "In recent years the quality of flexo has improved dramatically, challenging gravure and letterpress, which are both more expensive and slower to make ready and run on ever smaller and varied orders." He adds, "Our focus has been on higher volume applications and we chose to concentrate on flexo some years ago. We see our water-based and UV flexo capabilities carrying us well into the future."