Posted by Star Label on | Comments Off on Getting Ready for the Natural Products Expo East
Star Label is once again looking forward to the Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore, Maryland taking place from September 17-20. Sponsored by companies like Earth Balance, Brad’s Raw Foods and Evol Foods, just to name a few, the Natural Products Expo is the world’s largest tradeshow for the natural, organic, and healthy products industry while providing valuable business-to-business opportunities for those in the natural or organic product market.
In 2013, over 1,200 companies representing 95 different countries held exhibits at the expo and more are expected to take part in this year’s show. Open to companies in the food and beverage, supplements, beauty, household and pet products industries, the Natural Products Expo will have a focus on healthier lifestyles, natural, organic, and otherwise healthy products.
According to the show’s official press release, the natural products industry is expected to grow to become a $226 billion dollar industry by 2018, growing by 8.6 percent annually. The Natural Products Expo will celebrate the five growing trends in this industry: health and wellness concerned consumers, convenience, transparency in labeling, food communities or tribes such a gluten-free, vegan, paleo and others, and personalized, customized health for consumers.
The event will consist of over 1,000 exhibits, five main events as well as exhibitor hosted events, a keynote speech by Chef Ann Cooper on women in the natural products industry, and the presentation of the Expo East Retailer of the Year award.
The Natural Products Expo allows for companies to learn from each other and work to bring consumers healthier, innovative, and genuinely helpful products. It is events like this that benefit the American economy through mutual communication and benefit by those in attendance with learning and networking opportunities. See how we contribute to the natural products industry by visiting our website and Liking us on Facebook.
Posted by Star Label on | Comments Off on A Recap of the Natural Products Expo East This Fall
This year, as in many years past, Star Label’s VP of Sales Irv Magill attended the Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore, Maryland. As always, the show featured all natural and organic food, healthcare products, cosmetic and personal care brands, cleaning supplies and more. This year, there were many new companies eager to demonstrate their wares. And Irv was on hand to discuss how best to package them.
Digitally printed pressure labels and pouches seemed to be the major packaging trends this year. By attending the show and visiting exhibition booths, we were able to see which packaging methods are currently being used by emerging companies, and suggest alternatives that might better serve their needs. For example, digital printing offers us the opportunity to create very high quality graphics in an inexpensive way compared to other options.
In addition to networking and building connections, the Natural Products Expo also featured numerous events for attendees. There was an Organic Harvest Festival, the Natural Products Association East’s annual meeting, a New Products Showcase Award, The Women in Naturals Networking Event, and much more.
The event also included informational sessions for new brands as they continue to navigate the hurdles of maintaining an organic consumer product business. There was even a packaging component that centered on how to leverage branding and packaging to grow sales, along with an opportunity for companies to have their current packaging reviewed and critiqued.
All in all, it was a successful natural product event that exposed our brand to many new prospects in the organic product industry. You can learn more about the event online, or follow up with us on how to improve your current packaging for natural products.
Posted by Star Label on | Comments Off on Appreciating Customers and Representatives
From October 7th to the 11th this year, companies around the nation celebrated Customer Service Week. You may have missed the festivities, but here at Star Label it’s our mission to provide good customer service year round. This is vital not just for the manufacturing clients we work with directly, but also in our relationships with brokers and other representatives.
Since our founding in 1972, we’ve been serving two main groups – manufacturers and brokers. Sometimes companies will come to us looking for a particular solution, and our sales force is able to guide them through that process. Other times, companies will opt for a broker or other representative to seek out service providers and request quotes on their behalf.
For example, a manufacturer may need a particular type of sticker or label for their product. The manufacturer’s broker then inquires about specifications, and can offer up our product as a choice. He or she then comes to us with the specifications, we offer a quote, and the entire client relationship is handled by the broker.
Respecting and appreciating each customer group is one of Star Label’s competitive strengths. We always ensure client confidentiality, even using blind drop-shipping so our name doesn’t appear on the product – just the broker and/or client names.
Brokers serve a valuable role for many manufacturers, allowing them to operate their businesses without having to worry about sourcing issues. We understand the importance of this job and work hard to meet the needs of the broker as our main contact, and the end-user who will eventually be receiving our products.
Posted by Star Label on | Comments Off on Providing Digital Finishing Services to Other Label Manufacturers
Our HP Indigo WS6600 digital printing places a lot of dynamic tools into our tool belt. In addition to the many label design features at our fingertips, we can also provide a wide array of finishing & decorating techniques. For most label manufacturers providing digital printing services, their finishing capabilities are limited to varnish or laminating, and die-cutting. Our equipment allows us to provide a more extensive offering of decorative services, including:
Flat Bed Screen Printing – This makes it possible to provide a tactile coating, a feature that makes consumers more likely to pick up a product in an effort to examine the texture. Screen printing also allows us to provide the increasingly popular “no label look,” where the product and brand information look to be a part of the package itself.
Flat Bed Hot Foil Stamping– This allows us to give a more “premium look” to labels, adding features such as gold leaf borders. Due to the reflective nature of foil, these embellishments also help to capture the attention of passing consumers. Cold Foil Stamping–This technique allows us to apply a second foil to the label. With this technique we can create prismatic designs, and other dynamic visual effects.
Sheeting – Our sheeting station allows us to provide single labels rather than being confined to solely labels on rolls, ensuring that the customer receives their labels in the form they prefer.
Advanced Hybrid Spot Color Flexo Printing – In conjunction with your digitally printed label, this technique allows us to provide very specific pantone matching, metallic colors, pearlescent colors and pastel colors ensuring that customers get the exact color they’re looking for.
Flat Bed Embossing – Embossing is a technique that can really make brand logos “pop!”
For some label manufacturers, we send back full size rolls for final rewinding and inspection. For others, we handle the rewinding and inspection ourselves, then we package the labels up and drop ship them to customers.
We’ve been in business since 1972, and since the beginning we’ve always done work for the trade. Protecting our trade accounts is a commitment we value highly. In our next blog we’ll delve into why that is, and the steps we take to deliver on that commitment.
Posted by Star Label on | Comments Off on The Benefits of Digital Printing – Tackling Diverse Product Offerings
Recently a customer came to us looking for labels for their entire line of products. This particular product line was comprised of 75 variations of the same product, the variable in this instance being the color of each one. Each label required two colors: black and the particular color of the product. To keep a uniform look to the line, each variation sported the same image. However, the copy changed on each.
To execute this job via traditional flexographic printing would have required the use of 76 printing plates—1 for the image and 75 for each copy variation. The cost of the plates alone would have driven up the overall cost of the project. Further costs would have added up from the increased labor and waste that running the labels would have entailed. To run the product line via traditional flexographic printing would have required us to stop the press, change the copy plate, wash out the graphic plate, and mix & match the next color—74 times. Each step costs money and takes time, and together, they contribute to added material waste.
By printing this job on the HP Indigo WS6600 digital press, we eliminated the need for plates. This also removed the need to stop the press 74 times. For this reason, even though digital printing is a slower process than flexographic printing, the removal of these stops made digital printing the faster option. We also eliminated the need for manual color matching. This was taken care of using our HP printer’s IndiChrome feature, which accurately handles color matching. This was taken care of using our Star Extended Color Gamut feature, which accurately handles color matching, and provides continuous color calibration.
In addition to the savings on their initial order, digital printing also provides our customer with more flexibility for future orders. In a line of 75 colors, there are going to be some stronger performers and some weaker performers. For those products that find less demand, digital printing makes it economical to place small volume reorders.
Star Label Products has one of the cleanest label plants anywhere. Perhaps the cleanest. It’s a point of pride and a good business tool. The company makes labels for food companies, generic pharmaceutical businesses, and the cosmetics industry. When customers come to the plant – and they do so on a regular basis – they see it shine.
Shev Okumus is the president of Star Label Products, a converting company with 30 employees and annual sales of about $7 million. The company is located in Fairless Hills, PA, USA, in the far eastern part of the state. It operates out of a spacious 37,000 square foot building custom designed for the company in 2002. What began as a simple business with one press is now a streamlined operation with nine presses.
Shev is the son of Don Okumus, who founded the business in 1972. Don had come to the USA from Turkey five years earlier, working various jobs, and finding himself picking up valuable experience at printing companies. He and a friend decided to go out on their own, and bought a Mark Andy 800 series press. Not long afterward, the partner left, and Don Okumus became a sole proprietor.
Star Label Products rented and owned some small storefront locations in the early years, all in Philadelphia, PA, including a former movie theater at one point. One location burned down, but they were able to salvage the printing equipment. In 1979 it purchased a 10,000 square foot building in the northeast part of the city, and later added 3,000 square feet to it. That was as far as the company was able to expand, and by the end of the 20th Century they were desperate for more space.
In the early days, Don was running the three-color press for 12 hours a day, and selling labels for the other 12 while the partner ran the press, Shev says. “They didn’t have any sales people. It was just the two of them. My dad worked with a couple of brokers who gave him a fair amount of business.” Food labels composed the bulk of the business back then, and the work involved a lot of price labels.
Shev Okumus was a fixture at his father’s label company from his earliest years. “I grew up in the business. I was hanging out in the shop for as long as I can remember. I got to know everyone, and there are people here today who have known me since I was a kid. In high school I got into a work program so that I could skip the last two classes and come to work. I started in the packaging area, then went to finishing equipment. Then I was in charge of finishing, shipping and receiving. When I graduated from high school I started in sales. It wasn’t easy, but I was young and didn’t have any fear. I just kept moving up, and then became vice president.” Shev has been president for the past nine years. Don is still active, showing up for work at 6 a.m., but lately enjoying extended vacations, his son says.
In 2002, the team from Star Label prepared for a big event. The new building was ready for occupancy, and the 15 employees were looking forward to the move. In order to make the transition seamless, the Okumus team did something a bit unusual. They had gotten in touch with Mark Andy much earlier and ordered five new presses, for delivery to the new plant in Fairless Hills. When four of them were up and running, that’s when the Philadelphia plant closed its doors and everyone took up their duties in the new facility. Some of the old presses were sold, some came with them.Today the company has nine printing presses, and one diecutting press, all from Mark Andy. The most recent is an LP3000, a 13″ wide press with 12 print stations, five of which are outfitted with moveable Stork Rotaform screen units.
That press has UV curing units on all stations, and is equipped with hot and cold foil capability. The others are a 4150 10″ press, with 10 print stations (four with screen heads); five 2200s, two 10″, three 7″, a 910 and an 830, both 7″ wide. For its finishing, Star Label Products has Rotoflex and Arpeco equipment. The company possesses an impressive collection of rotary dies from RotoMetrics. One of its presses is in an isolated room, with a finishing machine in an adjacent room. This is to accommodate pharmaceutical and other customers who wish their products to be manufactured apart from others.
“Food is still a big part of our business,” Shev says. “From there we entered the market for industrial type products. Lighting was a big market for us in the beginning, but today we are doing very little in that field. Over the years we started doing some generic pharmaceutical. We also make labels for medical devices.
“Once we got into this building we started going after the cosmetics market. I really like that business. The labels are very critical as far as color and design. The customers are unbelievably meticulous – they know exactly what they want,” says Shev. “Sometimes we will sit here all day going back and forth with the color. I like the challenge of it.”
Food labels include a lot of packaging for meats. “The big thing right now is organic, and we print a lot of nice multicolor work for those. They want the package to pop.”
Along with food, Star Label has seen no slowdown in the cosmetics market. “People always have to eat, and look good,” he says. “Cosmetics always seem to sell. We are really concentrating our efforts in those markets.”
The two combination presses produce the bulk of the cosmetics labels. According to Shev, use of screen printing is growing, because of the dramatic ink laydown. “This year we will add print units and accessories onto our existing machinery, just to give us the flexibility to move jobs around. We’ll probably be adding print stations to a couple of the four color presses, and add a hot stamping unit to a press, which will give us four presses that have hot stamping.”
“Our niche is really our turnaround time,” says Shev. “We never say no. We’ll do whatever we can do to get the job done for the customer. We had a customer that did a lot of private label products, and they had a very hard time keeping inventory control, because they never knew when they were going to get an order, and when it came in, their customer needed it in a couple of days. So we were always getting calls for rush orders.If we were in the middle of a long run and we got one of these jobs, to accommodate the customer we would break down the job to get their job on, and then set the other job back up after it was done. The whole thing was very inefficient.
“My father came up with an idea. He said we’re going to buy a nice 12 color press. This customer’s work was mostly two colors, some three colors. They would call us in the morning with an order for 250,000 labels – it was never a small quantity – that they needed by the afternoon. Then three hours later they would call and say they also needed 50,000 of another label. This was happening almost daily. So what we ended up doing was set up three stations on the press, run the job, don’t wash up, move to the next two stations, run the next job, and maybe they will give us another job, so we’ll move to the next two stations and run that job. At the end of the day we would wash everything up at one time. The customer has his labels, and we were done for the day. It worked out well.
“Now we have a different method,” he says. “We have extra machines. We have two or three presses that we’ve had for a long time, they are paid for and sit pretty much idle. Now instead of breaking down a job, I can just stop a press and move that operator over to one of the machines that are idle and get that job done, and then move him back to the first job. So we don’t have to break down the whole job.”
About 45 percent of the label sales at Star Label Products are from brokers and the trade. The rest is direct sales by Don, Shev and Irv Magill, VP sales. Customer service is handled in-house, but there are no outside sales people employed by the company. “Irv is also out there networking with consultants who work in the markets that we serve,” Shev notes. “He also networks with people selling labeling equipment, and he supervises our inside customer service people. We do a lot of advertising through the internet, and he qualifies the leads.”
The labor market for the Star Label team is not an issue. Shev says, “We don’t have turnover. Some of the larger companies, which are located nearby, have made layoffs when they lose a specific piece of business – and these are the people with the most seniority. We have two great press operators who came here when we first moved into this building. Since we have been in business, we have never laid off one person due to lack of work.”
Shev Okumus will be at Labelexpo in Chicago this year, shopping for a high end inspection system to install on the finishing equipment, and has narrowed the field down to three vendors. Star Label also is looking into RFID. “That’s the next thing we want to get involved in,” Shev adds, “and we are investigating it now. We have customers who ask us about it – not too frequently, but they are asking. So that’s probably going to be a new opportunity for us.”
Posted by Star Label on | Comments Off on Star Label Products
The Keys to the Comfort Zone
Star Label Products’ purchase of a 12-station press helps it target small- to mid-sized customers who need combination, screen-printed primary labels.
Originally written on October 2006 By Chris Mc Loone in the Package Printing website
Founded in 1972 by Don Okumus (currently the company’s vice president), Star Label Products occupies a 35,000-square-foot facility with a segregated printing/finishing department for the pharmaceutical industry. The company manufactures pressure-sensitive labels including product, multi-layer constructions, IRC coupons, bar code, UL, CSA, thermal transfer. When Okumus founded the company, he did so with one Mark Andy 800 Series press. Today, it operates 10 Mark Andy printing presses and its capabilities include flexography, UV flexo, UV rotary screen, hot foil stamping, cold foil stamping, and embossing. Star Label prints labels for the cosmetic, health and beauty, pharmaceutical, medical device, food & beverage, electronics, and advertising markets. The company is headed by Okumus’s son, Shev Okumus. The most recent addition to its arsenal is a 12-color Mark Andy LP3000 press.
Star Label decided to get into rotary screen printing and combination printing to fill a part of the market that needed this capability. “At the time, most of the converters doing multi-color combination printing were large companies targeting large beverage and health and beauty manufacturers,” says Shev Okumus. “We wanted to produce combination labels for the small- to mid-size customer who needed a combination-printed primary label but was too small for the larger label converter that was set up to do long runs for the major companies. At the same time, it would have been difficult to get existing business from larger companies that had multiple products.” The up-front costs of screens is also an issue, especially when multiple copies are involved. “Once a customer makes this investment [in screens, hot stamping dies, etc.], it is very difficult to get its business unless it is having serious problems with its current vendor,” he adds.
Star Label went with the 12-color LP3000 for three reasons: requests from the market to quote screen work that required five stations; one of the company’s screen units was down for 10 days, rendering the company unable to meet ship dates; and the company was getting enough work for its existing combination press that it made sense to have a second screen/combination press.
“We already did quite a bit of screen work with our existing screen press that required using the four screen units that were on the press,” says Okumus. “About two years ago, we had one of the screen units go down and had a backlog of work that required all four units. Between troubleshooting and getting the parts from overseas, that station was down for 10 days. Our niche is turnaround, and we were not able to meet ship dates on some of these orders.”
The press Star Label added has 12 quick-change cassette stations and is the company’s first 13˝ wide press. It has five Stork screen units that can be placed in any of the 12 stations. “When we are not using the screen units, the hot foil unit, or the cold foil unit, all 12 stations are UV flexo stations,” Okumus says. The company is running quite a bit for beverage, cosmetic, and health and beauty markets using the five-station press.
Keeping up with emerging trends and new developments in any industry is important. Sometimes more important is educating your own customers about these emerging trends. “We have been seeing quite a bit of specialty coatings being applied by screen,” says Okumus. “For example, glow in the dark coatings, heavy varnishes that are tactile and mimic embossing, and some Braille printing.” He adds, “We have already been involved in some of these trends. In addition, we are making our current and potential customers aware of what can be accomplished with rotary screen printing and combination printing.”
Ensuring customer confidence
The benefits of combination presses are well known, but how do these benefits translate into improved business? For Star Label, keeping customers in the comfort zone by having a second press to complete a job goes a long way. “It has provided our existing customers with a comfort level knowing that we have a second piece of equipment that their screen-printed or combination-printed labels can be produced on,” says Okumus. The addition of a fifth station also gives Star Label a competitive edge. According to Okumus, companies the size of Star Label do not usually offer the fifth station.
In the end, however, it’s all about service. “We are now able to offer our customers the service level that they are used to getting from us, knowing that if we have a long run, even if it is a two-week run, we can still turn the shorter runs around to meet their delivery requirements,” adds Okumus. pP