Brand Booster

Andrews Decal Co. Inc., a Chicago-based converter of pressure-sensitive labels, proves that even a small company can be a major player in one of America's largest cities. With the recent installation of an eight-color Gallus EM 280 all-ultraviolet combination press, the 60-year-old company may not be the Windy City's best-kept converting secret much longer.

“With this new press acquisition, our focus in the coming year will be to meet and attract some of the major brand product companies that place high value on their brand image,” explains Gary Gallas, the second-generation president of Andrews Decal. “We expect to do that with a combination of the quality level that we're now able to produce and the responsiveness that we're able to deliver as a small company.”

That laser-sharp focus on quality and client care has sustained the 12-person operation and earned the loyalty of end-users across a range of markets, including personal care, promotional, household, sporting goods, industrial, financial, and brand security. Gallas says each employee plays a clear and vital role in the success of each order and, consequently, the company itself.

From the front door to the loading dock, every order receives the care and attention of a newborn child with the precision of an assembly line. “Being a smaller, nimble company, [service] really is at the forefront of our attention,” explains Gallas. “When a client or potential client is in contact with our company, they are immediately placed in the hands of someone who can assist them and has the knowledge to obtain the information we need to recommend the best product for their use. We're able to do that quickly and efficiently and not switch them around to different people.”

That attention to detail is the same for both repeat and new clients that often turn to Andrews because of its reputation as a caring company. Gallas says the secret to exceeding client expectations lies more in giving them what they really need, not necessarily what they request.

“Many clients come to us because they haven't been satisfied with the effectiveness or success of their labels in conveying their important messages, and that affects their sales,” Gallas says. “When people are in contact with us, we're friendly, we try to help them, and we're very conscious of our client service. We're always focusing on clients and taking care of them.”

For example, new clients routinely will ask for their labels to be produced based on the materials they have used previously or with which they are familiar, regardless of ongoing developments in the properties of inks, coatings, adhesives, and base materials. “We often find that clients aren't very familiar with a lot of the materials out there and the printing options that are available,” says Gallas, who has headed the family-run company for nearly 30 years. “The main focus, more than trying to sell them on a product that our equipment produces or certain types of labels, is to find out what they need.”

Wide Range of Substrates

Andrews acquired its Gallus EM 280 to enhance the already diverse production capabilities at its 12,000-sq-ft facility. The new press complements existing five- and six-color Propheteer presses; the company sold its older three- and four-color presses after the EM 280 was installed. Andrews also uses a Heidelberg Polar cutter system and JM Heaford plate mounter.

The Gallus press is equipped with IST UV lamp assemblies with water chill drums at all stations that are designed to allow management of web temperature, especially when utilizing heat-sensitive substrates such as unsupported film. The system is said to offer precise registration and enhanced print quality for supported p-s and other substrates as well.

Gallas says the press's ability to print a wider range of substrates — including unsupported film — allows Andrews to meet demanding premium market requirements more effectively. “We always try to provide more value to our customers,” explains Gallas. “In giving them more options, sometimes we can save them money. But we always try to create it in a way that allows us to add a little more value to it. And that's easier to do with our combination press, which prints and maintains the highest quality.”

The EM 280 is capable of flexographic printing, rotary screen printing, cold foiling, hot stamping, die-cutting, embossing, and laminating. Its enhanced features, such as new chill roll capabilities, now allow the company to expand far beyond its traditional p-s customer base.

The use of Gallus Rotascreen and Screeny technology also has enabled Andrews Decal to apply exceptionally high ink depositions required for specialty tactile applications, such as Braille, which the Canadian government says it will require on all pharmaceutical labels in the near future.

“We wanted technology that would offer our clients limitless creative possibilities,” says Gallas. “The outstanding UV print quality and color consistency, along with the combination printing versatility of this unit, will allow us to fulfill the upscale demands of clients concerned with strengthening their brand image.”

The new press allows Andrews to deliver faster print speeds and larger label sizes to clients. Gallas notes his company is one of the few converters in the Midwest to offer the advantages of the EM 280 UV combination press and the only one among dozens of converters serving the Windy City. “There's really no one in Chicago that competes directly with us in terms of our equipment offering,” he says.

Premium Quality

Although Andrews has offered sheet-fed, screen-printed labels for more than 50 years, the EM 280 allows the company to deliver the enhanced quality of rotary screen printing and consistency it believes are available only with UV technology and the faster converting speeds of in-line printing. This should prove particularly valuable to end-users in upscale industries such as cosmetics.

“Just getting into rotary screen printing was something special for us and our clients because of the advantages it offers over sheet-fed screen printing,” Gallas says. “The continuous press allows us to print, die-cut, and finish the job much quicker. It's easier to maintain higher quality with that ink system as well. It's less operator-intensive. You don't have to maintain the inks as much. It's just a better all-around system.”

Although Andrews Decal had spot UV capabilities, the benefits of a full-UV press — such as the ability to leave standing inks in the print stations for longer periods — allow Andrews to maintain the consistently higher quality required by Fortune 500-type companies. “We're sure that some additional major brand consumer product companies will look at us as maybe a way of getting premium products quickly, even if we only supply five percent to ten percent of their business,” says Gallas, noting that average turnaround on new orders is just two weeks or less. “If it's the kind of thing they need quickly and it needs to be of premium quality, then we're trying to build a synergy with that type of company.”

On the rare occasion when Andrews isn't equipped to fulfill a specific customer request personally, the company has longstanding, confidential partnerships with select converters in the Chicago area that can deliver high quality, sheet-fed, offset labels and packaging, as well as digitally printed products. New clients, in particular, appreciate Andrews' ability to offer alternatives to materials or converting processes they previously utilized to package and market their products. The switch typically results in higher quality or reduced cost — or both.

The company's new press gives both Andrews and its clients more material choices and therefore even greater flexibility in meeting their needs in a more efficient and cost-effective manner. “More and more, we've been finding ourselves offering our customers material options because they are used to a certain material, and it may not be the best choice for their product,” explains Gallas.

“Sometimes they may bring in a label that looks okay, but maybe the press it was printed on or the printer that completed it didn't maintain very high quality. There are so many options with materials that we can find that are better suited or add value.”

Gallas carefully monitors ongoing developments in equipment, inks, materials, and technologies to guarantee that Andrews offers its customers everything they need to succeed. “Today's business world is totally different than it was when my father started the company in 1947,” he says. “The dynamics of the market — everything — are changing so rapidly. It's difficult to tell sometimes what's happening down the road, but that's what makes it a great industry.”

The Impact of Foil

One value-added service that Andrews Decal can provide with the Gallus EM 280 press is cold foiling, which can add a striking metallic effect to any label or package at a fraction of the cost of hot stamping and only slightly more than printing itself. The foil is applied in-line to the base label using UV-curable adhesive and is said to greatly enhance graphic appeal in many applications. For example, a loyal bakery client replaced the red ink on its label with a red foil that added an eye-catching spark of brilliance to the product, which now really stands out on the shelf, says Gary Gallas, president. “It looks dramatically better and the only additional cost is the foil, which is minimal,” he explains. “It's still just printing and laminating, but it's something special we offer the market.”

Contributing editor Edward Boyle, based in Reading, PA, has covered the converting industry for more than 23 years. Contact him at EJB Communications; 610-670-4680; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Converter Infot

  • Andrews Decal Co. Inc. |
    6559 N. Avondale Ave., Chicago, IL 60631 |
    773-775-1000 |

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