By Steve Katz, Editor | March 13, 2014

This past winter has been brutal. Here in the Northeast, people will remember a frigid, unrelenting season, with temperatures struggling to get above freezing. There were several snowstorms, or “significant weather events,” as newscasters like to call them.

I for one like the chaos of a good storm, but I think the overall consensus here was one of exasperation. It was cold and snowy, but we all dealt with it. Sure, there were more inconveniences than usual – closed schools, plowed-in driveways, working from home – but nothing we couldn’t overcome, or even make the best of.

We survived. In March, the sun comes out and stays out longer, just like it always does.

I purposely use the term “survived” as an overstatement. I recently met with a label converter in New York that has a real survival story, and as heartbreaking as it was to hear, the end is all warmth.

In October 2012, this label printer’s 66-year old business was wiped-out by the infamous Superstorm Sandy. His shop took on four feet of water, destroying or severely damaging all of his equipment. Label presses built by hand that had been in the family business for half a century were gone, as were state-of-the-art digital printing and finishing equipment.

As heartbreaking as this story is, it takes a turn. Fellow converters – in essence, this printer’s competitors – rallied together to run jobs for this ravaged print shop, for months. He lost no customers. Meanwhile, suppliers went above and beyond to get equipment up and running, even rerouting machinery on a train in Europe to get to New York.

I am in the process of putting together a detailed account of this story which will be published on the L&NW website. I don’t know about other industries, but how fellow converters and suppliers rallied to essentially save this company’s business is pretty inspiring.
While competition may be fierce, there’s a sense of community within the label industry. I have  seen it first-hand, and have been privy to converter relationships that are all about working together, for the greater good of customers.

As this issue goes to press, I’ll be heading out to cover the TLMI Converter Meeting in Southern California. After the long winter, I’ll be getting some much needed sun, but also soaking in a bit of the camaraderie that makes the label business a strong community. 

Steve Katz, Editor
Twitter: @LabelSteve