By Jack Kenny on November 01, 2004
The atmosphere at New York Label is electric. The customer base is huge. Nine flexo presses run at full tilt for 19 hours a day. At the company’s headquarters in Islandia, NY, 38,000 square feet are no longer enough. Expect news of relocation in six months. Also expect news of expansion through the opening of satellite production facilities.
“We are set up as a one-stop shop,” says Christopher Freddo, vice president of sales, “from blank labels to four color process that rivals offset. The higher end has really made us different and now our focus is on faster and more reliable delivery.”
Printing technology at New York Label moved entirely to flexography in 1984. Prior to that, the company had printed using both the offset and letterpress methods. But “prior” doesn’t begin to tell the story: New York Label has been in business for 126 years, and has been owned and operated by one family — the Haedrichs — since 1930. The leaders today are Frederick Haedrich and his son Steven.
The New York Label & Box Works opened its doors in Manhattan in 1878, supplying offset printed boxes and labels for local pharmacies. It moved to Bayshore in 1985 and to Islandia in 1995. In 1993 the Haedrichs formed New Jersey Label, across the Hudson River from Manhattan in Englewood, which operates in a 16,000 square foot plant. The two shops operate independently, but combined annual revenue is in the $12 million range.
About 70 percent of New York Label’s business is through distributors, printers, and brokers — 3,000 of them. The rest is direct sales handled by Freddo and his team of sales experts. Sales are mostly regional, he says, “although we have a great customer in Los Angeles — have had him for years — who likes our quality and delivery.”
Lately, the management of New York Label has been looking west and south. “We are in the early stages of planning satellite facilities in the US,” Freddo says. “Chicago is on our radar, and so is Florida.”
A significant contributor to the impetus behind the continental expansion is found in one of the prepress rooms in Islandia. Two years ago the company decided to switch from conventional platemaking to computer-to-plate (CTP) technology. That, Freddo says, has changed everything.
“What really advanced our quality are the Creo and DuPont prepress software and platemaking systems. With the Creo front end we have increased quality, lowered waste, and can make plates so much faster. In the old days, if we had a serious six-color job with a two-hour setup, and then we found that one plate was bad, we would lose hours waiting for the new plate. Those days are history.
Specifically, the systems and equipment that get folks at New York Label so fired up are Creo’s Prinergy Powerpack prepress management system, Creo’s Thermoflex 2630 CTP device, and DuPont’s FAST plate processing hardware. Use of these has eliminated solvent plate manufacture and hours of drying time.
Samoy Davis inspects labels on the Web Techniques rewinder. “A lot of our customers are offset printers,” Freddo observes, “and they understand what this high-end prepress technology means; they’re familiar with it. When they learned that we were going that way, it certainly helped. To be the only label company around here with this system is a real plus to our customers.
“For many of our customers in this area, fast turnaround is a critical requirement,” he adds. “We have a dedicated press and a rewinder here for only rush jobs. Being far ahead with prepress technology was certainly the right move to make.” For a small charge, the company offers a delivery guarantee. “Our press downtime is minimal,” Freddo says. “It makes such a difference in customer satisfaction.”
Joe McComski and Damaris Rodriguez check a job on a Webtron 650. In its Long Island plant, New York Label runs six Webtron 650 presses, three 10" Mark Andy 2200s (six- and 10-color), and a 16" Mark Andy 4150 six-color. Cold foil stamping is offered. (The New Jersey company operates three Mark Andy presses.) Rotary tooling — the shop has an inventory of 7,000 dies — is from RotoMetrics and Preston Engravers, and includes flexible dies. The in-plant ink lab works with inks from American Water Graphics; a computerized ink dispensing system was installed last week. Anilox rolls are from Harper; label stocks are predominantly from Raflatac, MACtac and Fasson, Freddo says. Rewind and inspection are performed on equipment from Web Techniques, PC Industries and Rotoflex.
The company is looking forward to delivery of a new machine, purchased at Labelexpo in Chicago this year: a Mark Andy LP3000 press with 10 flexo print stations and two Stork screenprinting units.
Plate evolution changes speed, quality, consistency
Anthony Masotti, the prepress manager at New York Label, runs a department of seven people. Their world changed a couple of years ago when they decided to move away from conventional plate production and take on CTP. In January 2003 the company completed the installation of a Creo Thermoflex 2630 and the Prinergy Powerpack prepress software, along with plate processing via DuPont’s FAST system.
“Our plan was to start with spot colors, and to train one operator at a time on the new equipment,” Masotti says. “We figured the training would take between six and nine months.” Wrong guess. “By April, three months later, we had all jobs running through the new system. The benefits are too great.”
Masotti says that the solvent wash platemaking process used in the old days would take up to four hours for successful production of plates. “Now, from layout to finished cut plates is between 60 and 75 minutes. Gone are the man-hours, the chemicals, the maintenance, the slow speed, and the environmental concerns. And we have reduced our prepress vendor list from four pages to one.”
The technology, he adds, provides “a nice color latitude. We now can make color density changes with a change in plate impression, instead of changing anilox rolls. And there is no variation: We have higher quality and more consistency in our plates. And the advances in software, what we call Hyperscreen, allow us to print a vignette to a zero dot.”
Because its customer base is so varied, New York Label converts for many markets. The food industry is big in Long Island, as is the vitamin business. Others include promotional, health and beauty, entertainment toy and cosmetic. “Most of it is prime label,” Freddo says, “and about 25 percent is really high end.” In the near future, he adds, the company will pursue flexible packaging and folding carton markets.
At work on a Mark Andy press For years, New York label has adhered to the management and manufacturing principles set forth by W. Edwards Deming and recently Six Sigma. “We are very much into Dr. Deming’s philosophy,” Freddo says. “It is a must in a manufacturing climate.” The Deming philosophy, formulated a half century ago, aims to cultivate a more efficient workplace and increased productivity.
Educating customers in the changing capabilities of the company is a major undertaking at New York Label. The company advertises itself biweekly in Printing News, and sends out monthly postcards and samples to its customers, informing them of advances in technologies. “We also have four major events each year, including a golf tournament. This year we had almost a hundred customers at the golf outing. We have had cocktail parties and open houses, at which we talk about the new things that we are doing.”
Taking care of employees is just as important at the company. A profit sharing plan is in place for the 75 New York employees and the 12 in New Jersey. “The management team treats people with respect,” Chris Freddo says. “We promote from within, and we have very low turnover.
“To compete for today’s customers, we must have the technology, well trained people, quality the first time, and on-time delivery.”