AWT Labels & Packaging
600 Hoover St NE #500, Minneapolis, MN 55413 USA
AWT Labels and Packaging, headquartered in Minneapolis, MN, USA, has label printing roots that go back to 1976, when the company was founded as Web Label. Separately, in 1991, Advanced Web Technologies got its start in the label industry. In 2005, these two companies merged, and the following year consolidated, together moving to a 115,000 square foot manufacturing space in Minneapolis. In October of 2011, US Converting, a 30,000 square foot flexible packaging company in South Elgin, IL, was purchased.
In November 2013, with so many entities, and now entering new markets with expanded capabilities, management thought the time was right for the company to rebrand itself, and thus emerged AWT Labels & Packaging. “We changed the name to AWT Labels & Packaging because the industry found our name Advanced Web to be confusing. Instead of identifying us as a flexo printer, in many cases, prospects and industry suppliers were under the impression that we were a world wide web developer,” explains Jim Lundquist, CEO. “We were determined to simplify that perception. Also, we purchased US Converting in 2011 and we wanted to clarify we were the same organization, and simplify the connection between what we do in South Elgin and what we do in Minneapolis. We wanted to be more direct about our true mission as a company.”
What AWT does is lead the way in the challenging medical device labeling market. The company provides custom labels and packaging, as well as consultation, working with customers to develop innovative products for a wide range of medical device manufacturers. “We also provide extensive research and development in both product and packaging design for many of our other customers on an ongoing basis,” Lundquist says.
In addition to medical device labels, other growth markets include household, personal care, health & beauty, food & beverage, industrial and specialty markets. Converting capabilities include piggyback labels, extended content labels, scented stickers, tattoos, window clings, specialty diecutting of gel materials, laminating multi-layer film structures, converting poly bags, and the company can now offer customers shrink sleeves. Lundquist says, “We are now entering the shrink sleeve market with the addition of the appropriate software, seaming, cutting and inspection equipment. We have also added extended content label and onserting capabilities in the last couple of months.”
AWT utilizes a mix of flexo and digital printing and converting equipment – 21 machines total – including machinery from Mark Andy, Webtron, HP Indigo, Delta Industrial and Aquaflex. The most recent equipment acquisition is AWT’s recent purchase of a 17 inch Mark Andy P5 Performance Series press, installed in July 2014. With the company growing 10% annually, increased demand from new and existing customers predicated the need for more assets. The new P5 is equipped with two screen units, ten UV units, cold foil, film package, full chill system and a rail for the turnbar and unwind/rewind units. It also features the FTA Innovation Award-winning QCDC (Quick Change Die Cut) system that allows die changeovers in less than two minutes.
“The P5, along with our three other Mark Andy presses, provides additional throughput on longer running jobs and fast makereadies compared to traditional flexo presses. The QCDC station is faster than traditional diecutting stations, and the film package for unsupported film and additional capacity for shrink sleeve films and additional screen and cold foil capacity makes it a perfect fit for our targeted markets,” Lundquist says.
AWT customers are concentrated in the Midwest, Northeast and Western United States, yet the company’s reach extends to Europe and Pacific Rim countries. There are ten dedicated sales representatives located in Minneapolis, Chicago, New Jersey and North Carolina. “Our sales representatives are ultimately responsible to find prospects within our market segments that fit customer criteria. Further, they rely on secondary research databases that profile information about prospects in those respective market segments.
“We also rely on social media to expand our search for new customers that fit our customer profile,” explains Lundquist. “We have recently overhauled our social media marketing strategy, and are in the process of increasing our reach across several social media channels, adjusting to different shifts in social media channel popularity.”
A variety of certifications make AWT appealing to work with. The company is ISO 9001:2008 certified, and employs ISO 14000 guidelines and policy. GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) guidelines are followed to customer requests. AWT has also been awarded Great Printer Certification by Printing Industries Midwest in recognition of the company’s sustainability efforts. AWT is also SQF (Safe Quality Foods) compliant.
AWT employs a total of 175 people, and the company’s workplace culture is another point of pride. “AWT donates to multiple charities every year. This year, at our company picnic, we hosted a dunk tank where employees signed up to participate. Employees and their families then bought balls to dunk those sitting in the tank. The money from that event went to Second Harvest, a local food shelf. Every year, AWT also hosts an auction where employees can bid on different of donated items of value. The money from that event goes to Minneapolis Children’s Hospital.
“We’re also very committed to having healthy employees. There is a Health & Wellness Committee that promotes living a healthy lifestyle, and we hold several ‘live health’ awareness challenges and other related events throughout the year,” Lundquist says.
When it comes to the future for AWT, Lundquist would like to maintain the 10% growth rate, and he’ll keep an eye on where the industry is heading. He says, “I think we’re going to see the continued growth of flexographic and digital print solutions with improvements in color quality. The crossover point for digital printing continues to increase run quantity and flexographic solutions continue to have faster makereadies, thus reducing run quantity price points. The new hybrid digital/flexo offerings will find a place in the mix as well.”