55 Veterans Blvd., Carlstadt, NJ 07072
For Shree Ji Printing, a label and sticker manufacturer in Carlstadt, NJ, the immediate future is all about shrink sleeves and flexible packaging. The company got its start in 1994 by the Patel family, in a shed in a backyard in suburban Northern New Jersey. Today, running the company’s 25,000 square foot facility are Ankit and Amit Patel, who work alongside their uncle who founded the company with Ankit’s late father.
The company has come a long way since printing spice labels on that very first press in a shed, which was a Mark Andy 830 CI press equipped with 3-colors. Every few years, Shree Ji would outgrow its space and add another Mark Andy press, gradually making a leap in press capabilities and square footage of its New Jersey facilities. There was a 10" 8-color Mark Andy 4150 and a 13" 8-color Mark Andy LP 3000 press added along the way, in addition to some other used presses from Mark Andy and Propheteer.
In 2011, the company reached a key milestone, investing in a brand new Mark Andy 8-color 2200. A 10-color, 10" Mark Andy 3250 was bought in 2013. “We had always purchased used presses, up until the press we bought in 2011,” says Ankit Patel, the company’s sales director. “And we’d always been a Mark Andy shop.”
The company evolved from those first spice label customers, growing its business printing blanks and one-color fanfolded labels. Today Shree Ji manufactures labels that run the gamut. “We have a nice mix of everything,” says Ankit, “Just like any good label company. We do food, health & beauty, pharmaceutical and promotional labels as well many others. Right now private label is a key area of growth.”
Shree Ji became ISO 9001 certified in 2015 and can handle the most stringent of quality demands with 100% inspection capabilities. In 2013, the company earned GMI certification (Graphic Measure Institute).
Up until just recently, there were no salespeople at Shree Ji. “We really grew from word of mouth,” Ankit says. “Today we have two dedicated salespeople. Brokers account for between 30-40% of the business and referrals do the rest. We do a few trade shows a year, in the pharmaceutical and private label markets, as well as fancy food shows.”
Customers are mostly from the tri-state, New York City area – Shree Ji is just a short 10-minute drive from Manhattan, and the company benefits from being one of the few label manufacturers in the New York City area.
This year Shree Ji is taking a major leap. Following several years of research, the Patels determined that there is significant growth potential in shrink sleeves and flexible packaging. So, in January 2015, after even further research into the type of press to buy, Shree Ji opted for a 9-color Nilpeter FA-4* flexo press with CleanInking technology. While the press can handle label printing, the Patels say it will be used exclusively for shrink sleeves and flexible packaging.
“We’re really excited about entering these new markets,” Ankit says. “We did a lot of research and a lot of homework.” In addition to the new Nilpeter press, Shree Ji added CEI finishing and Karlville shrink equipment to complete the shrink sleeve capability. The company is now also using a Label Traxx MIS system for the first time in its history, and Ankit says it’s a real difference maker in making the company more efficient.
The CleanInking system is a key component of the new Nilpeter press. It works with or without an ink-pump and assures uniform ink transfer within a wide range of filling volumes, from just 0.2 to 2 liters. The Patels saw it for the first time at Nilpeter’s Labelexpo Europe stand in Brussels in 2015. At the most recent Labelexpo, the Patels got one last look at their new press before it was shipped to New Jersey, as it was being demonstrated at the Nilpeter booth in Rosemont.
CleanInking system users also benefit from automatic cleaning of the anilox roll and printing cylinders, so that replacement is possible without the need for protective gloves. The press is a perfect fit for the Lean-minded company. Shree Ji takes its Lean Manufacturing initiatives seriously. “It’s made a big difference,” Ankit says of the company’s Lean journey.
Using press helpers is a key component of the operation, and all of the staff is trained from within and given the opportunity to move up. And Shree Ji is rewarded with loyalty. “Our employee turnover is virtually zero. We have never let go of a single employee in our history,” Ankit says.
It’s a family atmosphere at Shree Ji. The Patel family is of the Hindu faith, and their spirituality is evident from the sales offices to the prepress department to each and every piece of equipment. While pictures of Ankit’s late father – the company’s co-founder – hang throughout, each press is adorned with stickers of a hindu god, as well as images of the companies gurus both new and old. When Ankit’s father founded Shree Ji with his brother, their guru blessed the equipment, and the rest is history. And the newly installed Nilpeter press just got the same treatment.
In the last few years, Shree Ji has won multiple awards from the FTA and is a new member of TLMI. The company is literally blessed with prosperity, and the future looks very bright. –Steve Katz