Each year, the event journeys to a converter member’s facility. This year, FLAG visited Bollin Label, where attendees were able to see each department and get an brief overview from the company’s employees. In addition, Bollin Label highlighted its new Xeikon digital press. Previous Annual Members Meetings took place in San Jose, CA, Bedford, NH, Westbrook CT, and Raleigh NC.
“Members place great value in seeing how a company of their similar size and scope implements processes and sets up their businesses for growth and efficiency,” explains John McKay, president and founder, FLAG.
FLAG, an independent family company like most of its members, is structured to help fight rising industry costs and passing savings along to its members. FLAG provides bottom line buying group savings on the most commonly used materials in the industry from a wide range of vendor partners. The savings extend to substrates, tools and dies, inks, prepress, digital, overlaminates, shipping and more.
“We offer top line new label sales growth opportunities, catastrophic planning, networking opportunities with other label industry professionals, and a variety of new technical and business resources,” says McKay. “FLAG offers independent label converters benefits similar to what large national converters can provide for their facilities.”
The Annual Members Meeting extends beyond interaction and networking. A host of presentations touched on a wide range of relevant industry topics, and the event was accompanied by the FLAG 2018 Awards Banquet. “We spend a lot of time with member-to-member Peer roundtable discussions on topics that every label converter is facing,” notes McKay. “Our post meeting survey showed an overall rating of this year’s meeting from ‘good to great’ by all attendees, who also said it was 100% worth attending.”
FLAG has seen rapid growth in recent years, with Labelexpo serving as the ideal spot to grow membership. According to McKay, the group has seen a 20-25% growth rate, with nine new members signed at Labelexpo Americas 2018 alone. Labelexpo also gave FLAG members the opportunity to extoll the virtues of the group’s benefits.
“One of the best things at Labelexpo was the number of existing FLAG members who stopped by to visit with us,” says McKay. “We even had current members talking to prospective members about how pleased they are with everything that FLAG provides independent label converters.”
FLAG is now offering several new benefits to its members. The group offers a Member Connections private web page, as well as a new resource called Talent Connection, Powered by FLAG. It is no secret that one of the label printing industry’s greatest challenges is attracting the next generation workforce, and FLAG has taken the lead in this area. The portal connects students needing jobs with FLAG member converters who need employees.
“Finding a career is hard. Finding talent is hard,” explains McKay. “Talent Connection is here to make it all easier. We’re connecting talent directly to the employers looking for the best of the best in print.”
The Annual Members Meeting also featured a number of guest speakers, focusing on topics such as Lean Manufacturing, strategic planning, organic sales growth, managing with metrics, succession planning, managing costs and flexible packaging. Plus, FLAG hosted tabletop sessions with vendor partners to promote networking.
The event has drawn praise from converter members across the country.
“If I were told my budget only permitted attending one event a year, the FLAG Annual Meeting would be it,” says Sharon Zampogna, VP of sales, McCourt Label Company. “At no other event is there such strong collaboration and idea sharing amongst friends who are all in the same boat and industry.”
“The meeting is unlike any other,” adds Steve Fleissner, CEO, Model Graphics. “The speakers are knowledgeable and are able to direct their presentations to our industry and size of companies. There is little information that most members are not willing to discuss. It is the most open group of business owners I know of, and the sharing goes beyond the meeting. The ROI can't be matched.”
During the meeting, FLAG distributed multiple awards. Andy Willie, executive director emeritus, Independent Carton Group and president of ICG, received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Meanwhile, Xeikon was named the FLAG Vendor Partner of the Year for 2018. This award is based on exceptional support, communication and commitment to FLAG and its members by a participating vendor. The Brad Brown Strategic Partner Award went to RotoMetrics’ Molly Moroni.
In addition, five member companies received Gold Awards for the highest level of purchasing from FLAG vendor partners. The awards went to:
- Graphics Universal Inc., Greencastle PA
- TLF Graphics, Rochester, NY
- Niagara Label Co., Inc., Akron, NY
- Luminer Converting Group Inc., Lakewood, NJ
- Apogee Industries Inc., West Chester, PA