A Southern Success Story
A focus on niche markets and capability in both offset and flexo printing are keys to success at Valdese Packaging & Label.June 2012 By Chris Bauer
It must have seemed unlikely back in 1993 that a new printing business with three employees in a 3,500 square foot building would, in less than two decades, boast a client list with some of the biggest names in retail, have a sales office in Honduras, hit $10 million in annual sales, and produce work that is shipped to 19 countries around the world.
But that is exactly the story that has been written at Valdese Packaging & Label Inc. (VP&L) in Valdese, N.C., a package printing powerhouse that now operates with 70 employees in three buildings totaling more than 100,000 square feet.
How did this company accomplish these feats after coming from such humble beginnings? CEO Darren Little says it is simple: the people make the difference. “While VP&L has the latest printing and packaging equipment available today, it takes total dedication and teamwork. This includes employees, customers, and vendors,” he notes.
Little’s involvement in the printing industry started when he was in just the second grade, spending time with his father in a family-run printing business. “My dad bought the first Mark Andy in North Carolina and his company had the ACC basketball tournament account,” he recalls. Little worked in and out of the printing business throughout his high school years, and started working full time in the industry after college.
About 19 years ago, he decided to go out on his own and start up a printing shop with his brother David. “We have worked hard, but we have also been blessed,” he says. “The only time we have been in the red is the first four months we were in business. We have all the bells and whistles that money can buy today, but without the folks that day-in and day-out utilize the equipment with dedication to Valdese Packaging, then all of that is worthless.”
VP&L works closely with retailers including Walmart, JCPenny, Kohl’s, and Target, as well as companies overseas that manufacture goods for American companies. It uses sheetfed offset and narrow-web flexographic presses to produce packaging, tags, wraps, and pressure-sensitive labels primarily for the retail apparel industry. The printing work, produced in North Carolina, is then shipped all over the globe.
Investing for growth
In the past year, VP&L, a long-time user of half-size sheetfed presses, added a new 6-color, 40˝ Mitsubishi Diamond 3000LX press with aqueous coater, a new Kodak Flexcel NX CTP system, and a Concept platemaking system. The company also added an all new Bobst finishing department that includes two 106 diecutters and two Fuego folder/gluers.