Narrow Web Profile: Resource LabelGroup

By Jennifer Dochstader | August 31, 2007

A recent merger and new press acquisition position this Tennessee converter for continued growth.

From left: Wayne Tabor, director of operations; Darrell Stallcup, director
of technical development, and Allen Barnes, CEO
In the highest quality prime label printing sector, it's not easy to fly under the radar for very long. Yet Resource LabelGroup, based in Franklin, TN, USA, has done just that for more than 15 years. Since its founding in 1991, Resource Label has sustained double-digit growth by clandestinely carving out its own niche in the North American narrow web marketplace.

In many ways Resource Label is a classic converting industry success story. Built upon the instincts of seasoned industry executives turned entrepreneurs, the company grew to an excess of $20 million in sales and was sold by its founders to Boston based private equity firm Lineage Capital in 2005. Following the acquisition, Lineage knew that its choice in new leadership was a critical one, and brought in packaging industry veteran Allen Barnes as CEO to lead Resource Label's continued growth by safeguarding its prominence in its existing markets, while aggressively pursuing opportunities in sectors new to the company and its employees.

Allen Barnes is acutely aware of the challenges set before him. "The entrepreneurs who founded Resource LabelGroup saw an opportunity in the market," he says. "This company was able to sustain extremely high growth rates by developing a production model that delivered highest quality, extremely intricate applications to our customers in what were some of the fastest turnaround times in the industry. This continues to serve as a key foundation to our success in the market today. However, in order to create a growth model sustainable for the future, we've had to make some significant investment decisions that will lead us into new markets."

Complexity and quality

Resource Label's core competency has been its ability to deliver high quality, and often highly complex, constructions with minimum lead times using water based and UV flexo, letterpress and rotary screen presses. The company became a specialist in the economical manufacture of a wide range of run sizes, in addition to multi-web label applications, while building up its customer base by providing a fiercely service-driven model. Staying committed to this strategy, Resource Label installed an HP Indigo 4050 digital press system in 2004.

Cory Smith prepares a job on a Sanki letterpress. Photo by Lee Ann Burgess Photography.
That focus on growth was underscored in August with the merger of Resource LabelGroup and Mid South Graphics, in Nashville, TN. The move gives the company a solid foothold in the RFID label manufacturing segment.

"We knew there was a learning curve associated with integrating digital label production onto a conventional production floor," says Darrell Stallcup, the company's director of technical development. "We spoke to other converting operations with this technology before we purchased the HP Indigo, and knew there were companies out there struggling with how to make digital label printing a profitable scenario. For us, the integration was a smooth one. Because we're a company with a history in the production of a variety of run sizes, in addition to the high level of prepress expertise that our art director and team of designers have with sophisticated artwork and complex designs, we were able to turn the HP into its own profit center within months."

Resource Label's in-house prepress capability is another area where the company has recently dedicated significant resources. In 2005, the company invested in an Esko Graphics CDI Spark system for flexo imaging and primarily uses Flint plate material. With 12 designers and prepress specialists working full time, Resource Label is able to meet all of its prepress requirements in-house for the group's print process technology range, which includes water based and UV flexo, rotary screen, letterpress and digital. An Esko Graphics Kaleidoscope color management system was added to the prepress mix earlier this year.

Due to its mission of supplying quality, pressure sensitive labels at minimum turnaround times, Resource Label was able to build up a loyal customer following in a broad range of end-user markets including food and beverage, nutraceutical, household chemical, agrochemical, personal care, and pet products. With a high level of application re-engineering expertise in-house, the company has also developed expertise in the production of multi-web applications including redeemable coupons, extended text labels, booklets, multi-ply labels, and inserts.

"Nearly all of our presses have been re-engineered in one way or another," says Wayne Tabor, the group's director of operations. "Our customers value the fact that we can take an application apart, re-engineer it so that it runs more efficiently and cost effectively, and then provide them with a solution."

Mike Patterson operates the HP Indigo digital press. Photo by Lee Ann Burgess Photography.
Moving beyond the printed label, Resource Label offers value-added services to its customers and prospects, which have pushed the envelope of what is expected from a print provider. Allen Barnes says, "We are working organizations that need more than ink on paper or film. Today's customer welcomes the opportunity to work with us on their sustainability initiatives, brand protection solutions, complex distribution requirements and other areas outside of the offerings they have typically seen from vendors in the past."

The company has also implemented aggressive Lean Manufacturing programs within the facility, allowing them to reduce setup times and waste and achieve the company's internal sustainability initiatives.

A regional merger

It has been an exciting quarter for Resource LabelGroup. Last month the group announced the merger with Mid South Graphics. In addition, Resource Label placed an order for a 10-color, 16" Gallus EM410S combination UV flexo, rotary screen press. The company now has 16 presses in-house, and two due to arrive before the end of this year.

Both the Mid South merger and the new press acquisition are central to Resource LabelGroup's goal of broadening its offerings to meet emerging customer requirements.

Resource LabelGroup's headquarters in Franklin, TN.
"Packaging buyers and consumer packaged goods companies are looking to their label suppliers to expand their service offerings beyond printed pressure sensitive prime labels," says Barnes. "Resource LabelGroup is growing and changing in ways that enable us to provide effective solutions to our customers as their own needs shift to accommodate new technologies throughout the supply chain as well as on the retail shelf. The merger with Mid South Graphics will enable us to integrate new technology into our existing structure, making us a unique player in today's market."

Mid South Graphics brings more than a half decade of RFID application expertise to the merger with Resource Label. Prior to the merger, RFID sales made up more than 30 percent of the company's total revenue in markets that include airline baggage, durable goods, electronics, chemicals, textiles, pharmaceuticals, food, and automotive. Mark Davenport, CEO of Mid South Graphics has been named President of Mid South RFID, a division of Resource LabelGroup. With a long-standing history in the label printing industry, Davenport's extensive customer network and specialty application knowledge is viewed as an asset to Resource Label's strategic initiatives moving forward.

"The future of RFID is in specialty tagging," Davenport says. "Items that need to be traced throughout the supply chain present a tremendous opportunity for RFID, and this is an area that Mid South has been active in since we entered the RFID sector in 2002. Our expertise with RFID presents an ideal synergy with Resource Label's customer base and their own production strengths."

Resource LabelGroup

147 Seaboard Lane
Franklin, TN 37067 USA
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