Growing the Label Business


As in the challenging, extreme dry climate of the Baja Peninsula where the Tag & Label Mfrs. Inst. held its annual converter meeting, label converters today are being challenged to find growth under the duress of economic pressures and a maturing North American label market. However, the 75-year history of TLMI is proof its members have excelled in far more difficult times.

The March 5-8 converter meeting at the Marquis Los Cabos began with keynote speaker Chuck Martin, chairman and CEO of NFI Research (a management research firm in Madbury, NH). He identified 12 cognitive functions: “executive skills” that everyone possesses that begin developing in the brain at birth and essentially congeal at the age of about 21. At this point these skills, while they cannot be changed or “fixed,” can be enhanced to help us excel in our lives and careers. These skills include self-restraint, working memory, emotion control, focus, task initiation, planning and prioritization, organization, time management, defining and achieving goals, flexibility, observation, and stress tolerance. Recognizing and evaluating one's own strong/weak skills, as well as those of people under a manager's employ, allow a leader to understand innate assets and limitations.

In the latter half of the keynote presentation, Martin moderated a panel including Joel Carmany of Consolidated Label Co., Frank Gerace of Multi-Color Corp., Scott Pillsbury of Rose City Label Co., and Tom Spina of Luminer Converting Group. With a range in company size from small to large, the panelists answered questions as to how they spend their time, the nature of their company incentive programs, and the elements of each company's culture.

Martin also shared the results of a TLMI survey conducted by NFI Research that addressed a number of topical issues. The results of the survey are available on PFFC's website at Questions included the level of optimism/pessimism regarding the economy as well as respondents' organizations and the biggest issues facing those organization today.

The second day's general session featured Steven Little, who covered “21st Century Strategies for Building Your Company.” Little shared his formula in brief fashion with the audience:

  1. Establish and maintain a strong sense of purpose behind your business.
  2. Accrue outstanding market intelligence about your business and the market it serves.
  3. Develop an effective growth plan to operate your business.
  4. Maintain customer-driven processes and know their wants and needs.
  5. Know the power of technology and utilize it whenever possible.
  6. Find the best and brightest team of people to run your business.
  7. Visualize the future so your business can change and grow with it.

Little's prediction for TLMI growth leaders: It won't be about getting more sales but about recruitment, training, and retaining people. He warned the audience to be aware of population shifts, grayification (55 is no longer old!), decentralization (where people will live), the “green” phenomenon reward, China wealth creation, and our need to familiarize ourselves with the Latino market.

Concluding the meeting was investment banker/advisor Jonathan White of Thomas Blaige & Co. LLC, Chicago, IL. He addressed the merger and acquisition scene and the future availability of funds for this purpose.

Evening festivities honored Eugene Singer Award Recipients. They included Coast Label Co., Fountain Valley, CA, in the small company category; SpectraGraphics, Lenexa, KS, in the mid-range category; Consolidated Label, Longwood, FL, in the medium company category; and Belmark, DePere, WI, in the large company category.

World Label Assn. Awards for TLMI members also were announced, including the following first place awards: Mid Atlantic Label; Taylor Made Label; Dow Industries; WS Packaging Group; Copac; McDowell Label & Screen Printing; Collotype Labels; Sato Corp.; Labelgraphics; TAPP Technologies; and National Label Co. Honorable Mentions were given to both Dow Industries and TAPP Technologies. (Visit for a complete description of the awards.)

On the final day Lynne Galligan of Hilltop Innovation, a former chief technology officer and VP of business development for Avery Dennison, addressed the “Converters Dilemma.” Her valuable examples and case studies taken from similar organizations explained how label converters may employ a methodology for evaluating innovative growth ideas in a manner that prioritizes the success potential for innovative ideas and new product development. A real-life example presented by Bob Zaccone of GSI Technologies, Burr Ridge, IL, demonstrated how to perform Galligan's Opportunity Analysis. Completing this sustainable, trainable analysis will replace or reduce the traditional “gut-feel” rationale behind entrepreneurial decision-making.

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