Companies to Watch: Telrol
By Steve Katz, Editor
Published October 14, 2013
Bolderweg 53 1332 BA Almere, the Netherlands
+31 (0)36 – 5494160 • www.telrol.nl
Telrol is not your average label printer. Founded in 1995, the company has come a long way in a relatively short amount of time. Part of The Labelmakers, a group of companies headquartered in Almere, the Netherlands, Telrol is one of the group’s label converters, and has been one to watch since its beginning.
Ton Jacobs and Hoessein Hadaoui are Telrol’s co-owners, and the pair has a rather unlikely background as label industry leaders go. Prior to getting into the label business, Jacobs was a butcher, and as part of that business, he required point-of-sale (POS) tickets for his meat-weighing scales. He was fascinated to learn that there was a whole business behind this technology that featured bar codes and pressure sensitive labels. While having to place orders for these weigh scale labels, Jacobs had an epiphany, which led to him buying a small, one-color Mark Andy label press.
Meanwhile, for years, Houssein Hadaoui worked in the flower business. His plan was to open 26 flower shops in Germany, however he got sidetracked. For his flower shops, Hadaoui needed POS rolls , which is how came to meet Jacobs. “I though it was very interesting what Ton was doing. I saw it as an art, more than just putting ink on paper,” he says, adding that soon after he sold his flower business to a relative, he immersed himself in the label industry with Jacobs.
The two owners have been “hands-on” from the beginning. “When we started, we did everything ourselves,” Hadaoui recalls. We ran the press, rewound the orders, sold the orders – and we faced every thinkable problem.”
In its fledgling years, Telrol simply manufactured blank and scale labels. They were successful at it, and growth soon followed, as did new machinery and a new building. However, their market quickly changed, and Telrol had to change with it. Explains Hadaoui, “Every grocery or butcher had the same label – it was ‘thank you and goodbye,’ or it was a blank label. But then they started adding names, and logos and artwork – and that is how we evolved.”
To meet its customers needs for more complex constructions and increasingly higher quality products, Telrol invested in two Gallus presses and one Arsoma. In 1999, Telrol purchased land and a built a plant. At the time, the company was printing labels for a changing market. “We used to run a lot of water-based inks, and the quality was not so important. But when our customers started demanding quality, we added two MPS presses – a seven and a nine color machine.”
When it comes to printing equipment, it is Hadaoui’s philosophy to buy two of everything. Today, Telrol’s headquarters in the Netherlands feels more like a label industry campus than a converting facility. Spread out over five buildings is a veritable “who’s who” of equipment manufacturers. Currently there are more than 20 flexo machines, including 8 MPS presses. There’s also letterpresses, gravure and screen printers, and a pair of Xeikon 3300 digital presses.
Telrol is MPS’s biggest Dutch customer, with EF servo presses in both 330mm and 410mm web widths and in configurations between five and nine colors. With MPS’s Crisp.Dot technology, Telrol is capable of working with extremely fine dots resulting in offset quality print.
Telrol is also self-sufficient. Jac-Stick is the name of the Labelmakers’ division that coats, laminates, silliconizes, prints and rewinds the labels in one go, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Armed with two ETI Cohesio converting lines capable of handling webs up to 22.5 inches wide, and each fitted with two Martin Automatic MBS butt splicers. The rewinding area is armed with fully automatic ABG rewinders. Jac-Stick outputs nearly 550 million square feet annually, or, almost 11 million square feet each week. Telrol also has its own tool-making plant, capable of manufacturing both cylinders and gears.
Hadaoui counts among his customers some of the region’s biggest retailers, with Telrol shipping labels throughout Europe and beyond. Main markets include food, produce and retail, and within the last few years Telrol has ramped up its servicing of the cosmetics and health and beauty sectors.
While the company was founded in 1995, through acquisition, it’s roots date back to 1938, the starting date for Peha Labels, a company acquired by Telrol in 2009. Peha was doing a lot of cosmetics labels, a market that Telrol had its eye on.
Peha Labels had been a letterpress printer, and a struggling one. Jacobs and Hadaoui took on this new company and aggressively integrated it into the Labelmakers group. “At the time, in 2009, our Telrol building was completely full. Peha was struggling – their building was old and run down. So we broke down everything, closed the site and brought all of their people and operations over here.
We got rid of their letterpress equipment and replaced it with four new MPS machines. We had bought Peha in June, purchased a new building in September, and before the end of the year the company was completely integrated and operational,” Hadaoui says.
Telrol today employs 200 people, none of whom are salespeople. To Hadaoui, customer service is the secret to a successful sales effort. He says, “If you have a good product, you don’t need salespeople. When our customer service team serves our customers in the best way possible, that is selling.”
To put Telrol’s success into perspective, during the global economic crisis – sales never took a dip. In fact, Hadaoui saw the chaotic times as an opportunity for growth. “Once the crisis started, we got the best prices, and we became aggressive,” he says, adding that it was during this time that Telrol purchased Peha.
Hadaoui’s recipe for success is working. Combined annual sales for the Labelmakers total €50 million. He has great relationships with the biggest players in retail, who are repeat customers, incrementally increasing their orders. “Even though you have a good relationship, you have to perform, you have to execute, and you have to be reliable,” he says. “So as we’ve grown, we realized we have to have the capacity to serve these big customers. We always say yes. The biggest challenge is how much can you handle.”