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US label converters among Best Workplace winners

December 6, 2011

Five label printers are among 33 graphic arts companies that have captured annual human resources awards from the Printing Industries of America.

Five US label converters have earned the distinction of being among the Best Workplaces in the Americas for 2011, a series of awards presented annually by the Printing Industries of America (PIA). A total of 33 graphic arts companies were selected by a committee of human resources experts from within the industry. The program is designed to recognize graphic arts companies for their outstanding human relations efforts which contribute to a successful workplace.
Top honors went to Disc Graphics, Hauppauge, NY, which won the distinction of “Best of the Best” in the medium sized company category (101-250 employees). Other label converters recognized for Best Workplaces awards are Smyth Companies, Label World, Tailored Label Products, and Hammer Packaging.
“Since 2000, the Best Workplace program has recognized industry leaders from small, medium, and large firms in the graphic arts industry for their outstanding human relations practices. While every company that entered this year's competition has HR programs they should be proud of, the Best Workplace Program recognizes outstanding accomplishment,” says Jim Kyger, assistant vice president of HR for PIA. “The Best Workplace Program stands out as one of the most stringent HR awards programs available today in any industry with over 300 metrics. The program is an excellent way to give employers instituting innovative yet cost-effective HR programs the recognition they deserve.”
Entries are judged on management practices, work environment, training and development, recognition and rewards, workplace health and safety, health and wellness, financial security, and work-life balance.
“It is extremely gratifying to receive this prestigious award for the fourth time,” says Margaret Krumholz, president of Disc Graphics. “It is an honor to be in the company of an elite group of leaders in the graphic arts industry for whom an excellent work environment is essential. We are a company that continues to view our people as our most valuable resource, and as such, their continued growth, development and well being are vitally important.”
Diane Ferrante, Disc’s HR director, says that the company focuses on excellent management practices, open communication and overall commitment to its employees. “Each year we strengthen the programs we provide, adding a variety of customized training sessions and emphasizing our recognition programs with the goal of maximizing employee satisfaction,” Ferrante says. “In spite of the still challenging economic climate in the country, we continue to offer our employees a superior benefits package. We enjoy the benefits of a low turnover rate and high long-term tenure from our employee population.”
Smyth Companies, one of the country’s largest label converters, has won the Best Workplace award for the past four years. “Today, during difficult economic times, employers are valued more than ever. It is particularly gratifying to represent an entity such as Smyth, which not only employs more than 400 associates, but is also considered an employer that maintains the highest level of human resource practices,” says CEO John Hickey.
Tailored Label Products (TLP) has won every year since 2006, and has received the Best of the Best award twice. The company has also won the best workplace award for the seven-county region in southeastern Wisconsin on four occasions, and twice was recognized as a top workplace by the local newspaper.
“Our single focused mission is the support and development of our team,” says TLP President Mike Erwin. “We speak regularly on employee development and recognition at various Chamber of Commerce and manufacturing excellence seminars. Our turnover has been less than 3% for the last four years, even during the recession. Our best efforts are placed in the area of cross-training and personal development, with an annual award to the most versatile and improved employee.
“You can feel the energy and positive vibes when you walk in the door at some companies,” Erwin notes. “That’s our goal at TLP.”
Label World has won the Best Workplace awards for nine straight years, seven of those for Best of the Best. President John McDermott says that this year the company organized a Biggest Loser Contest that ran from early January to Memorial Day.  “I pledged $100 to each associate who lost 8% of their body weight during that period,” he says. “In addition, every participant put $20 into a hat and the hat was split between the woman and man who had the greatest weight loss in total. We had regular weigh-ins and all the data was kept confidential. Fifty percent of our associates signed up for the contest and two thirds of these achieved the 8% weight reduction goal.  So I was extremely pleased at its success.
“Beyond that, we do a lot to drive employee engagement and we measure it every year through a survey based on Gallup’s engagement research and standard methodology. Over the years, our engagement rate has climbed steadily so that now it is above 70%.”
To achieve that, McDermott says, Label World has a package of goals that include:
• Clear expectations for everyone with job descriptions and annual goals;
• Good training and equipping of people for their work;
• Regular performance reviews with training to the supervisors on how to conduct these effectively;
• Structured pay package based on community data and internal rankings;
• Incentives;
• Recognition programs at the discretion of the supervisor to reward positive behaviors;
• Fun activities though the year; and
• Building feedback loops to various depts. on the quality and effectiveness of their outputs (e.g., daily production and estimating reviews)
"At the end of the day, this is not rocket science. It is just paying attention to the basics of respecting and listening to others, establishing fair standards, speaking the truth and holding people accountable, including management.”

The following companies received Best of the Best awards: Elk Grove Graphics, Elk Grove Village, IL; Hopkins Printing, Columbus, OH; Indexx, Greenville, SC; Newman Printing Company, Bryan, TX; Communicorp, Columbus, GA; Disc Graphics, Hauppauge, NY; Midland Information Resources, Davenport, IA; Royle Printing, Sun Prairie, WI; Suttle-Straus, Waunakee, WI; American Packaging, Rochester, NY; Edwards Brothers, Ann Arbor, MI; Flower City Printing, Rochester, NY; SmartPractice, Phoenix, AZ; and Weldon, Williams & Lick, Fort Smith, AR.
Here are the companies that won Best Workplace awards: The Castle Press, Pasadena, CA; Century Box, Methuen, MA; Commercial Letter, St Louis, MO; e-LYNXX, Chambersburg, PA; Fusion Paperboard US, Hebron, KY; Good Printers, Bridgewater, VA; Label World, Rochester, NY; Tailored Label Products, Menomonee Falls, WI; Vox Printing, Oklahoma City, OK; Boutwell, Owens & Co., Fitchburg, MA; Mosaic, Cheverly, MD; Robbie, Lenexa, KS; Great Lakes Integrated, Cleveland, OH; Courier , North Chelmsford, MA; Hammer Packaging, Rochester, NY; The John Roberts Company, Minneapolis, MN; Smyth Companies, St. Paul, MN, Times Printing, Random Lake, WI; and Valassis Communications, Wichita, KS.

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