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Introducing Fortis Solutions Group

By Steve Katz, Editor | April 21, 2015

CEO John Wynne Jr. details the company's capabilities resulting from the combining of Labels Unlimited and A&M Label.

In 1979, Labels Unlimited began operations in Virginia Beach, VA as a flexographic label printer. Following an ownership change in 1990, the company grew to have more than 100 employees serving a customer base throughout the US, with a focus on food, industrial and retail label markets. In October 2010, John Wynne, Jr. acquired Labels Unlimited. Prior to entering the label business, Wynne held various positions within the investment banking units of Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley in New York.

A&M Label started in a garage over 50 years ago. Al Listerman, and subsequently his son Jim, built A&M Label through both organic growth and the acquisitions of General Tape and Label and Michigan Label to become a leading pressure sensitive label manufacturer serving the transport & logistics, household, retail and automotive industries from its facilities in Wixom, MI and Memphis, TN.

In 2014, Labels Unlimited acquired A&M Label, and earlier this year the creation of the Fortis Solutions Group – the combination of both operations – was announced. With Wynne at the helm serving as president and CEO, the new company – under this new name – combines the legacy strength of both organizations to deliver a more diversified and differentiated approach to labels and package printing manufacturing.

President and CEO John Wynne, Jr.
Label & Narrow Web recently caught up with Wynne to learn all about Fortis Solutions Group – its equipment, capabilities and how the advantages of combining two companies will better serve its label customers. We also discuss how this key acquisition came about. Here’s what Wynne had to say:

L&NW: By combining Labels Unlimited and A&M Label, what equipment assets and converting capabilities does Fortis Solutions Group now have?

John Wynne:  Our facilities use 15 conventional presses and four HP Indigo digital presses to service our customer base. The Virginia Beach facility had historically had a large presence in the food industry while A&M Label brought industry diversification as well as additional converting capabilities such as extended booklet printing and flexible packaging. We can now offer a breadth of product offerings including these products as well as pressure sensitive labels, variable data printing and multi-ply coupon printing.

L&NW: At the time of the acquisition, how many people did each company employ?

JW: The acquisition of A&M Label occurred on January 2, 2014, with A&M employing 82 employees and Labels Unlimited employing 125 employees.

L&NW: What factors led to the acquisition of A&M Label? How did this come about?

JW: In early 2013, we were contacted by some of our larger customers who requested that we have manufacturing capability closer to their locations in the Midwest. We served all of their locations on the East Coast but transit time and transit cost were prohibitive in obtaining the remaining business. We were fortunate to find a company of A&M Label’s stature, who allowed us to create a strategic triangle with manufacturing locations in Michigan, Tennessee and Virginia.

The Wixom, MI manufacturing facility.
L&NW: Can you describe the advantages the acquisition will bring to new and existing customers?

JW: Our new locations and capabilities provide more flexibility and product offerings to both new and existing customers. In addition, our multiple manufacturing facilities give our customers back-up redundancy in the case an unexpected situation arises at one of our facilities. The sheer scale of our operation provides additional R&D opportunities and purchasing power, which allows us to pass on additional savings to our customers. A&M Label also brought a terrific solutions-oriented approach with its customer service and engineering departments that has been adopted across the group.

L&NW: What is the basis for the name “Fortis Solutions Group?”

JW: Following the acquisition of A&M Label, we hired a marketing agency to help us create a brand proposition that would unite us internally and speak to the value we bring to our customers externally. We wanted to redevelop our go-to-market strategies which would include a new website and marketing collateral. We chose:
• Fortis, meaning "strong" in Latin
• Solutions, meaning "proactive, value added providers"
• Group, meaning "multi-site and multi-faceted."

L&NW: What does the future hold for the company? Are there plans to enter new markets? Add new equipment? More M&A activity?

JW: We are very excited about the future prospects for Fortis Solutions Group. We have an outstanding group of employees who are able to provide our customers with creative, tailored solutions to their labeling needs. Over the past few years, we have purchased multiple new flexo and digital presses as well as prepress software as we standardize our equipment and software across our footprint. We will continue to invest in the business, ensuring we are utilizing the latest technology within our operations. We are evaluating growing in the flexible packaging market and will look to expand our capabilities and geographic footprint through both organic growth and acquisitions. 

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