If anyone can be said to fit the description of an industry icon, that person is Calvin Reid. He has spent more than 40 years producing labels of all kinds. He launched label converting companies and sold them. He's bought others. He tried retirement, but that didn't work too well. Today, as founder and sole owner of Label Haus, Danvers, MA, he's as happy as ever.
As label companies go, Label Haus is small. Reid estimates that he will do perhaps $1.2 million in sales this year. But he's satisfied. He's devoted to his work and his people and the industry in the region, and doesn't have a yacht or a plane to distract him.
Situated in a small town just north of Boston, Label Haus employs 10 people. The production shop has three Webtron presses and a couple of Mark Andy CI presses. One of his press operators, Jim Ferreira, has been working with him since the 1960s.
Reid didn't start out in the label printing business, but he was attracted to it because he saw its potential. "In 1960 I was in sales and service of power saws and grinders for the meat market," he recalls. "I saw labels in every market, and I knew the label companies. So in 1961 I started selling labels on straight commission, and moonlighting at night repairing saws."
That led, in the following year, to a job at Royal Label in Boston, where he spent the next six years. In 1967 he took a job in Lawrence, MA, at East Print. There he met another salesman, a fellow by the name of Walter Dow. There they formed ScreenPrint, to accommodate customers who wanted screen-printed products.
Both Reid and Dow were fired from East Print in 1969, but they had ScreenPrint with them and formed a new company called Labelcraft. Not much later, Dow bought out Reid's interest in both operations, and has since created Dow Industries, a sizable group of converting companies based in Wilmington, MA.
Not one to sit still, Calvin Reid decided to begin again, and in 1972 formed Reid Associates, which he ran for 22 years. He worked with Leon Beaudoin at Webtron (now owner of FlexoExport), and acquired some of that company's printing equipment.
He faced challenges along the way. In 1985 he lost a leg to cancer. "That slowed things down a bit," he says. In 1993 he sold Reid Associates, and in the following year his wife, Mary, died.
John Roby at work on a Webtron 750
"I waited five years," Reid says. "I had money in the bank, no kids. I wanted to use my money for happiness, so I went back into the business in 1998. Thus began the next incarnation: Label Haus Inc.
Reid likes to knock on customers' doors. "I love sales — in this door, in that door." The practice, he adds, has changed from the old days: "Nowadays you have to have an appointment; you can't seem to get everyone's name or number.
"I'd rather be out talking to people. Ninety percent of the time if you talk with someone who doesn't know much about labels, you can help him.
"The label business, per se, is a no-brainer," he observes. "It's not as high-tech as a commercial printing operation. It's one of the easiest fields."
Reid's philosophy is simple: "Whatever someone's problem is, replace it with the solution."
Recently, Reid acquired Max-Pak, a label company in Auburn, ME. He travels to that state once a week to sell.
Label Haus has a screen printing operation for signs and other products.
Pride in Webtrons
Label Haus manufactures labels, decals and metal name plates — "Every company uses them," he says. His spotless shop in Danvers also sports a screen printing operation, large-format equipment that enables the company to compete in the sign-making business.
The focus, says Reid, is in labels for manufacturing, recreational products, and food. Many of the labels are four-color process. Reid is a devotee of the Webtron press. "A lot more can be done on Webtrons than on other machines," he notes. The three presses are all 750 models, one six-color and the other two five-color. The company uses inks from Water Ink Technologies and Akzo Nobel, and dies from Preston.
In his four decades of industry experience, Reid has seen big changes. "It's the plates that have changed the most," he says. "It's night and day from 10 years ago. And 10 years from now it will be all different."
Change doesn't stop him. Challenges might slow him down now and then, but he gets up every morning and does what he likes to do.
"I'm very happy," Reid says.
Label Haus Inc.
Danvers MA 01923 USA