Founded in 1971, Flexiket is a well established and highly regarded label converter in Denmark. The company's history has been one of careful and successful evolution. That pattern of change continues today, as Flexiket extends its reach beyond its borders. "The majority of our customers are Denmark based, but several of them have plants outside. We have very limited exports when you look at exports as something being initiated by a foreign company outside Denmark," says Henrik Hansen, managing director. "But we are going to work on that now by establishing a sales office in Germany. About two-thirds of the labels we manufacture end up outside, either on things being produced in Denmark and then being exported. Most of our major customers are either international or global."
Flexiket's operation, in the town of Risskov, comprises three buildings that occupy 40,000 square feet. It employs 55 people. The German sales office, called Flexiket Deutschland, opened just recently.
In its early days printing was accomplished with letterpress machines and screen presses, eventually adding flexo. Today Flexiket operates seven Nilpeter flexo presses — the most recent, an FA4, is full UV — along with three Kammann screen presses. The company also has two Xeikon digital presses, which bear the Nilpeter brand name.
Flexiket entered the digital print market early, in 1999, when Nilpeter still maintained its arrangement with Xeikon to brand its machines for the label market. "At that time we saw a tendency towards fewer and fewer labels per order, and the lead times had to be cut," says Hansen. "We saw often that there were many variants in each order, so we simply found that that would be a good move to go into digital. We had a great time with the first digital press, and we had to buy another one because we reached our capacity in 2002.
One of two Xeikon/Nilpeter digital presses at Flexiket
Flexo printing accounts for about 50 percent of Flexiket's print work. "I don't think many other companies have a share of digital plus screen amounting to another 50 percent," Hansen observes. "It has been a huge change over the last five or six years to watch digital and screen grow."
Screen labels are best, Hansen notes, "where colorfastness is extremely important." The company's labels are found on heating and gas pipes that have to go underground for 10 years or more, so lasting print quality is critical.
The company maintains a focus on its employees and their well being, Hansen says. "Flexiket is doing a lot in health and safety for employees, much more than in other places. We offer a share of profit to our employees. When we meet our budget, which often happens, we give 10 percent of profit before tax to the employees, equal shares. That means that they have a certain stake in the business. I am 100 percent convinced that we see the result of that every single day."
The Danish economy is said to be the strongest on the planet, and its label market is highly competitive. "We do have a lot of competition, which I think is the reason behind a very strong labeling industry in Denmark. We need to stay sharp, all of us. The competition in Denmark in the food area is cutthroat, but I guess it's the same everywhere. In all other areas we have fair competition, and as along as basic economic conditions in Denmark are fine, which they are these years, then there is enough for everyone."
Hansen acknowledges that other skilled companies can produce labels of the same quality, so Flexiket has to look elsewhere for its advantage.
One of Flexiket's three Kammann screen presses
"We look heavily into IT technology to see how far it can take us in terms of supplying benefits to our customers. Four months ago we installed an extranet; our customers receive a password and go straight into our system and look at labels and other areas of the business that we have together. They can see a clear listing with pictures and see all of the labels we are producing for them.
"A major challenge for us to create and implement organizational development along the lines of what our customers are," says Hansen. "When our customers go international we have to go international. We have to face the challenges of educating our people better in terms of language and logistic skills; either we have to educate our own people or get people who know about it. The biggest challenge, probably, is to get the customers you want and to hold onto them, constantly making sure your organization is updated. If it isn't, then you cannot fulfill your strategy."