Digital Magazine

Flexo label printer grows by leaps and bounds

In six years Steve Mintz, owner and president of Express Label Co., Longwood, FL, catapulted a small hot stamp label start-up company into a broad-based flexographic label business that takes in well over $2 million a year. Along the way he has purchased five presses, moved three times to larger facilities, and set the stage for continued growth at a 40%-50% rate for the next several years..

The success of Express Label is not that surprising considering Mintz's track record as an entrepreneur. In the past 25 years he has built up nine successful businesses that he eventually sold off as numerous businesses for other entrepreneurs not willing to start a business from scratch.

One of those businesses was a pressure-sensitve label printing company that Mintz started in 1980 and sold in 1984. During the next several years Mintz built three other small businesses and worked in real estate, but he couldn't get the label business out of his mind. Eager to get back into the business, he started Express Label in 1989.

Mintz started out the second time as he had the first with a Markem hot stamp LP375 press, making simple point-of-purchase labels. "We still have that press. When we started it was just doing foil labels, but that's a very small part of our business today. I'd say 90 or 95 percent of our business is flexo," says Mintz.

"We eventually added a four-color Comco Cadet with ultraviolet capability, and, when the time came to add still another press, we evaluated five or six alternatives. But in the end, based on our experience, we eventually purchased a second Comco Cadet six-color model, also with UV coating capabilities."

"Our press operators participated in the final decision," says Mintz, "and they voted for the Cadet. Our first Cadet has been a charm to run, and it has made us money. More importantly, it has been trouble-free, and the press delivers the quality work we need to satisfy our customers' needs. From my point of view, the cost relative to performance and extensive Comco support made this a good investment decision."

Express Label's third move was in February 1995, but Mintz is already planning the next, to a 2,5000-sq-ft building on a three-acre piece of land. "We have about two more years of growth here and room for maybe one more press, which we'll be ordering in the next six months."

Mintz expects that press will be another 10-or 13-in., six- or seven-color Comco press with UV. "We plan on getting into UV flexo printing right away -- I'd say within the next two or three months --and we already have the two Comcos with UV packages on them."

Express Label houses its own Anderson & Vreeland platemaking system, an art department with two full-time graphic artists and a full-time quality control department that features Arpeco inspection equipment. Two three-color Mark Andy presses have served Express Label since the early days and are still in operation. Water-based inks are supplied by Werneke and Environmental Inks and Coatings Corp., and dies are from Rotometrics. Vinyls, mylars, and laminates are purchased from FLEXcon, and other substrates (including paper and film) come from Fasson and Green Bay Packaging.

People Make the Difference

Mintz proudly points out the importance of his people to his success. Employees are cross-trained, with all pressmen trained on every press in the plant.

"They're also trained in all the prepress, and our platemaking people are trained to run certain presses and are also trained in the quality control department," Mintz says. "So we have good flexibility. If necessary, even I could help with almost anything in the place!"

All employees participate in a wide range of operating decisions and have die opportunity to grow in experience and responsibility. While Express label is a family business-Mintz's wife is still semi-active in the business, and his son is in sales -- the considers that concept to go beyond the immediate family. "Quite frankly, the people that work here are family as far as I'm concerned. There is a good attitude around here that makes us one big, happy family."

The next major move for Express Label will likely be into the area of specialty packaging and label converting. "Right now we really want to gear ourselves with short-run prime labels, but real growth for us, we feel, is a larger-run prime label business and into the flexible packaging end of business," according to Mintz. This means another capital investment, possibly a combination press, so the game plan now is to concentrate on getting the basic p-s roll label business to a level of performance that will more than fund further growth into profitable new niches.

"My customers expect consistently high quality and consistently on-time delivery from Express press Label, and I give it to them," says Mintz. "That is why we keep getting new business and why we keep expanding."

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