“It was a Monday night, everyone went home, and we were watching the plant on our security cameras, over the internet. At some point the power went out,” recalls Neil Sidrane, Ksidrane’s owner and president. “When one of my managers came in the next morning, he called and said, ‘It’s not pretty down here’.”
Four feet of water in a label plant is certainly not pretty, to say the least, and the deluge wiped out just about all of Ksidrane’s equipment. “Our whole setup was ruined,” Sidrane says. “Our presses, finishing equipment, platemaking – everything we had was either damaged or destroyed.”
Discussing the storm’s effect on his company, and what transpired in its aftermath, Neil Sidrane is emotional. Ksidrane is a family business, started by Neil’s father in the 1950s, in his apartment in New York City on a flexo press he built from scratch.
Over six decades the company evolved into a full-service label and packaging provider, acquiring modern flexo printing and converting equipment to complement the handful of homemade flexo label presses built by Neil’s father. In 2010, Ksidrane made the leap to digital with the addition of an HP Indigo WS6000 press along with a fully-loaded AB Graphic finishing machine. Prior to the storm, Ksidrane had been steadily migrating work from flexo to digital and the new technology had opened up new markets and opportunities.
And then Sandy hit.
What happened next is telling of the camaraderie and kinship that exists in the label industry.
“Having been in business for so many years, I have a lot of friends in the industry,” Sidrane says. “I turned to my vendors and asked them to place a moratorium on any money we owed them, and they all obliged. We were in a good cash position, so we didn’t owe too much money, and many of our vendors just wiped it off, and said, ‘Hey, don’t worry about it.’
“Our equipment vendors HP and AB Graphic, they stepped up to the plate and went above and beyond for us – they did some amazing things – scrambling around, finding us equipment,” Sidrane says.
Until Ksidrane could repair its water-damaged digital converting equipment, HP was able to procure a demo press, and AB Graphic took a machine being used for training in Spain, reconditioned it and shipped it to New York for Ksidrane to use in conjunction with the HP press.
“And they didn’t charge us a dime,” Sidrane says of AB Graphic. “They are the vendor of the century for us.”
In the meantime, while Ksidrane’s vendors were scrambling to find replacement equipment, the company still had to find a way to serve its customers. This is where Sidrane’s label converting friends and peers come in.
“Before our vendors found replacement equipment, I turned to people in the industry I’d known for years, and started shipping work out to them,” Sidrane explains. Coming to the aid of Ksidrane was Pennsylvania-based Labels by Peluzzi, and fellow Long Island converter Precision Label. For months, the two companies ran Ksidrane’s flexo work. For digital runs, Ksidrane sent work to Reid Label & Graphics in Massachusetts.
The real ace-in-the-hole, Sidrane says, was Scott Rudolph at Piping Rock Health Products, a Long Island-based nutraceuticals company. Piping Rock had recently bought an HP Indigo press to print its own labels. “For a year, we ran our digital jobs with Scott’s equipment. He just gave us carte blanche use of his facilities. We paid all of the bills and expenses, used our own employees, and it was like another plant for us. And that’s what really saved the day. If it weren’t for that, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” Sidrane says.
Throughout the year and half long ordeal of losing its facility and equipment, Ksidrane didn’t lose a single customer. “Prior to the storm, our backlogs had gotten bigger and bigger, so it was very challenging. We worked with our customers very closely, and everyone was so accommodating. We gave them what they needed.”
A new beginning
Neil Sidrane did not want to bring the repaired and refurbished equipment back the same facility that got flooded by Sandy, fearing something like that could happen again. After looking at what must have been every industrial park in Long Island, Sidrane came upon a 22,000 square foot facility in Farmingdale that turned out to be a perfect fit, and closed on the building in July 2013.
The new building is only 15 years old, and is about 28,000 square feet, over two levels, including mezzanine level office space. The plant is a significant upgrade from the company's previous home in Freeport, and all of Ksidrane's employees displaced by Sandy have been rehired.
The water-damaged flexo presses are repaired and running, as is Ksidrane’s HP Indigo 6600 – the replacement demo press that the company has since purchased. The AB Graphic has been fully repaired, and when the water-damaged HP Indigo 6000 returns from Israel refurbished and good-as-new, Ksidrane will have more capacity and capability than ever before.
“Our new building is one of the most beautiful, state-of-the-art label manufacturing facilities you’ll see. We now have two digital presses, and the digital platform is just so productive. The future is in digital,” Sidrane says.
Today, Ksidrane’s sales are back to 100% pre-storm, and with more capacity, the company has plans to hire additional salespeople.
Prior to Sandy, Ksidrane was about to kick off a marketing program called “Designer Days,” as a way of showcasing its product portfolio to new and existing customers. “The purpose is to have clients come to our facility to learn about our different techniques, have them upload their files, and after a presentation, show them the workflow live,” explains Sidrane. “Now we can start that again.”
However Ksidrane will be holding it’s Designer Days in a sparkling, new and better facility than the one ravaged by Sandy.
Perhaps its cliché to suggest “everything happens for a reason,” but in this case, the phrase seems to fit. A grateful Neil Sidrane concludes, “All the stars aligned to get us where we are today.”