Narrow Web Profile: McDowell Label and Screen Printing

By Leah Genuario | July 20, 2005

A new location and new capabilities for this Texas converter.

"We're pretty tightly packed, and space is such a wonderful thing. Once we're in the new building, we are going to add a lot of processes and capabilities," says President Dave McDowell.

The company, currently located in Dallas, TX, will be moving later this year to a building in nearby Plano. The main reason for the move is space. The new plant will be double the size of the old — 50,000 square feet.

The company currently specializes in markets that require high end graphics: health and beauty, beverage and nutraceutical niches, to name a few.

This label has been seen by over 67,500 guests of President George W. Bush.
In addition to pressure sensitive, static cling and booklet labels, McDowell Label also prints on unsupported film for flexible packaging. The company uses UV and water based flexo, and rotary UV screen. It also offers hot foil stamping and is one of a few print houses with the ability to apply UV topcoats in intricate designs.

That is what they are capable of now, but with the extra space will come additional equipment and capabilities. "We're going to expand our heat sleeve capabilities. We're already into flexible packaging, but we're going to expand that capability. We're going to continue to expand our rotary screen printing and rotary hot foil stamping capabilities," says McDowell. The company is also interested in RFID "as it pertains to retail" and other proprietary applications.

Quality first
While the new facility will bring about some changes in terms of capabilities, one thing that will not change is the company's commitment to quality.

McDowell Label and Screen Printing has been the recipient of more than 30 national and international awards for printing excellence. Over the past two years, the company has added three prestigious World Label Awards to the mix.

The company won two World Label Awards this year. Its Frosted Marshmallow label, featuring a special raised patterned UV topcoat, won in the Flexo Cosmetics category (the same label was named Best of Show in the 2003 TLMI Label Awards.). Its Naturally Aloe label took home the prize in the Multi-Process, Color Process category. The company also won a World Label Award the year prior for a candle label.

That's quite a feat for this small company, which currently houses just five presses — Nilpeter and Gallus models —and generates about $10 million in sales a year.

But despite its size, McDowell Label has blazed a trail because of its reputation for quality. "I've never cared much about being the biggest," says McDowell. "But we want to be the best."

Quality is not just a buzz word for McDowell Label; it is built into company culture and is a part of all aspects of the business — from keeping the floors and presses noticeably clean to "throwing stuff away that other people ship," says McDowell.

An overview of the current McDowell plant

"We're focused. We really are. We have a culture of quality. Even though we're jam-pack crowded, it's really clean. That's a byproduct of the culture we've instilled. Our people, they've been recognized by their industry peers, with the various awards we've won, as being among the best. They think of themselves as being the best and they've taken a lot of pride in that," says McDowell.

The commitment has paid off. The year 2003 proved to be the best year ever for McDowell Label and Screen Printing. The year 2004 promises to be another record year.

McDowell is quick to acknowledge that most of the success is due to dedicated staff members and vendors.

Turnover is rare at the company and staff members are highly valued for their expertise. "I think the key thing is that we empower our people. We hire the best people, we empower them to do the job, we get out of the way and let them do it," says McDowell.

Among the 43 employees, a few have the McDowell last name. John, Dave McDowell's youngest son, has been with the company for seven years and was recently promoted to sales manager. Dave's wife, Elaine, is chief financial officer. And Abigail, the family's Shetland sheepdog, acts as company mascot. She comes to work every day and will have her own doorway and outdoor area at the new facility.

Other key employees include Chris Brannon, the art director, and Thomas Goode, who works as production manager for the company.

A great deal of emphasis is placed on cultivating good atmosphere at McDowell Label and Screen Printing. This includes activities that foster good relationships.

A quick look at one of the walls in the McDowell Label and Screen Printing lobby serves as a not-so-subtle reminder. Down the corridor from the three World Label Award plaques is a picture of a man in a cow costume, surrounded by a host of equally strange-looking characters. It is one of several Halloween photos on the wall, a day where the staff comes to work dressed in costume.

Equally valued are the relationships with vendors. The company owns Gallus and Nilpeter presses. They purchase plate cylinders from RotoMetrics and dies from Wilson Manufacturing. Inks come from ANI and many of the substrates come from Avery Dennison. McDowell Label also works with Pitman Company, buying Dupont Cyrel products through them.

"We believe in partnerships and they work well with us. We are fortunate to have the relationships," says John McDowell.

Loyal relationships also extend to McDowell Label's customers. "We position ourselves as a consultant for product decoration," says John. "That's what's awarded us the business we enjoy."

An artist's rendition of the new McDowell Label and Screen Printing building. The building is expected to be complete in August.

McDowell Label and Screen Printing has an unusual history. Dave McDowell started the business 23 years ago as a print brokerage after having worked for Avery Label for 10 years.

Dan Meza printing on holographic material with a Gallus press

"We probably had three or four people in the front office and I think I had four sales people. We'd become quite successful, but it was getting increasingly hard to sell into the markets that we were selling in by being the middleman," remarks Dave McDowell.

And so, in March 1994 the company bought its first printing press. Even as brokers, McDowell Label and Screen dealt mainly with companies seeking high-end labels. It was the same audience that gravitated to the new printing house.

Over the last 10 years, McDowell Label and Screen Printing has experienced continual growth. Each time a neighbor would move out, McDowell would expand into the newly vacant space. Three expansions later there's nowhere else to go, except for a new building in Plano.

The company is expecting that the new building will continue the tradition of quality and growth. "Last year was an awesome year, and this year looks like it's going to be a lot better than last year. When we get into the new building, we can spread out because we're packed in here. And then, when we get some new equipment in there, I think the sky's the limit. I think we're going to continue to grow like we've always grown," says McDowell.


10325 Brockwood Road
Dallas, TX 75238 USA
Phone: 214-348-9494
Website: www.mcdowelllabel.com
Future location: 2700 E. Plano Parkway Plano, TX
  • Dscoop Post-Show Report

    Dscoop Post-Show Report

    Greg Hrinya, Associate Editor||April 7, 2017
    “Imagine” was the theme for the annual gathering of users of HP Indigo digital print technology.

  • The Future of Flexo

    The Future of Flexo

    Steve Katz, Editor||April 7, 2017
    Recruitment and proper training are paramount to the health and future of flexography.

  • Latin America’s Label Market

    Latin America’s Label Market

    Greg Hrinya, Associate Editor||March 13, 2017
    Competition and emerging print technologies define this region.