7277 Boone Ave N., Minneapolis, MN 55428 USA
Meyers is not your typical label company, and its capabilities extend well beyond labels. And within the label segment of its business, this Minneapolis, MN converter is an industry leader, blazing a path providing innovative products with the latest in label printing technology.
Meyers is made up of two distinct segments, the Label and Card Division and the Retail Marketing Solutions Division, which manufactures 3D displays, signage, sales promotion kits and more. The company is owned by the Dillon family, whose patriarch Gerald purchased Joe Meyers’ printing business in 1949.
In its earliest years, Meyers was a small sheetfed letterpress commercial printer. Over the ensuing decades, Meyers enjoyed steady growth while diversifying its product portfolio – something it continues to do today.
In the 1970s, when some of its local commercial print customers had a need for labels, the Dillons decided to buy a few label presses, and off they went into the world of narrow web label manufacturing.
Gregg Temple started working at Meyers in the early 80s, and today is president of the Label and Card Division. Having been around since early in the company’s start in the label business, he’s witnessed firsthand Meyers’ evolution within the sector. “Our first major label customers were prominent, local food brands such as Hormel and General Mills – we did a lot of food label work,” Temple recalls. “And when we moved to our current facility, that’s when our label business really took off and we got into other markets like health and beauty. It was then that we really started growing in the sector.”
In 1991, with a need for more capacity and efficiency, Meyers moved into its current location, which consists of 250,000 square feet of manufacturing, warehouse and office space, and employs about 250 people, 100 of whom are dedicated to the Label and Card Division. Temple says, “From then on, our capabilities kept improving. We really started to focus on innovation. In fact, within five years of moving, we had doubled our label business.”
While Meyers’ leadership pinpoints its 1991 move as a key turning point, significant progress came with investments in new prepress and printing technologies. Throughout its history, Meyers has not been timid when it comes to making bold equipment acquisitions. The company has enjoyed a strong relationship with Dutch press manufacturer MPS. Its first MPS flexo press was the 12th such machine in North America, and at the time of its installation, Meyers was just the seventh converter on the continent to become an MPS press customer.
In addition to being an early adopter of MPS presses in North America, Meyers was also a beta site for DuPont’s Thermal FAST platemaking system, which allowed many of its customers to make the switch from letterpress to flexography.
Improvements in the prepress department, as well as UV inks, combined with MPS technology, have helped Meyers set new records in reducing press waste. “This past year, we had .4% spoilage. Our best year we had .3% – these are numbers I thought I’d never see. The past five years, within our Label and Card Division, were the best we’ve ever had in our history – and the seed for that was sown by us investing in MPS presses,” Temple says.
Due to its increased efficiencies, Meyers is also doing more work with both fewer machines and fewer people. Today there are two servo-driven MPS EF presses, two Mark Andy presses, as well as Webtron and Arsoma machines.
To complement its flexo operation, Meyers was a relatively early adopter of digital print technology. Anchoring the short-run digital department is an HP Indigo WS6600. An AB Graphic Digicon Series 2 handles digital finishing and embellishment. Additional finishing and converting is done with Rotoflex machines, while card finishing is taken care of with two Atlantic Zeiser Versa image/encoding lines.
“We’re running about 8-10 jobs per shift on the Indigo – jobs that used to take two to three days on our most efficient flexo presses. Digital allowed us to open up capacity on the MPS presses, and it really propelled us to a whole new level of profitability,” Temple says.
Meyers Goes Hybrid
For its most recent press acquisition, Meyers once again took a leadership approach and also once again chose MPS. However, they didn’t choose between flexo and digital, instead opting for the best of both worlds.
In the summer of 2017, Meyers installed North America’s first MPS EF Symjet hybrid press and the second one worldwide. The MPS EF Symjet combines the automated MPS EF platform with the Domino N610i 7-color digital UV inkjet print engine. With the flexibility of both flexo and digital printing, the EF Symjet gives label converters a range of new print possibilities. Domino technology uses Kyocera printheads to print at a resolution of 600 x 600 dpi, with up to six colors and opaque white.
While it remains to be seen what the full range of products Meyers will produce with the press will be, it is clear it will help advance the company’s mission to innovate efficiently. “Historically, MPS process stability coupled with operator-friendly innovations has had a major impact on our productivity – while delivering the lowest defect percentages in our history,” Temple says.
Dave McConnon, vice president of operations for the Label and Card Division, along with Temple, was immersed in the decision to go hybrid. McConnon explains, “Of course, over the last few years we’d been watching all the developing print technologies. And when Gregg and I went to Brussels for Labelexpo Europe in 2013, the Inkjet Trail feature really got our attention. It was then that we started getting serious about considering inkjet technology.
“We saw not only the quality getting better, but also the speeds getting faster – which is a major advantage inkjet has over the Indigo,” McConnon says. “So all along, I think we knew we were leaning toward inkjet, but we didn’t want to simply buy a standalone inkjet press. At the time we were studying our options, we were thinking, ‘wouldn’t it be great if the two technologies – inkjet and flexo – were put together?’”
Temple adds, “At that point, as far as we knew, MPS, who was our favorite flexo press manufacturer, wasn’t doing anything with inkjet. We had asked them, but they didn’t have anything. So we started asking around about hybrid presses and had some discussions with other vendors. We even looked at presses at a few beta sites. But we decided to hold off on making a purchase, knowing that new technologies would be coming along.”
Meanwhile, Meyers had enjoyed success equipping its flexo presses with the Domino K600 high resolution single color piezo inkjet system, and “it had been fantastically stable for us,” Temple says, referring to the company’s two K600 units, which launched to the label industry in 2010. “So when we found out that MPS and Domino were partnering – our preferred flexo and inkjet suppliers together on one machine – it was a no-brainer. And as a bonus, it’s comforting to know we have local support from both Domino and MPS.
“Plus, we really liked the idea of investing in one machine. You look at so many of the other inkjet press options, and it appears operators are running two machines – the digital press and then a second machine for converting and finishing. The EF Symjet gives us to the ability to print and convert inline,” Temple adds.
From management to sales to production, everyone at Meyers is very excited about the new press. Says Temple, “We have a sales rep that used to be a press operator, and he started selling it even before we cut the purchase order. We’re moving jobs off of our flexo presses and the Indigo. Both new and existing customers are thrilled by the possibilities of what this press can do.”
Collaboration and Converting Solutions
Meyers’ Label and Card Division produces products that go well beyond product decoration. Food labels, along with health and beauty, remain strong market segments, and today the company excels in manufacturing promotional products, such as coupons and games, as well as specialty converting solutions.
Eric Pohl, the division’s vice president of sales and new business development, explains: “The converting solutions we produce are more of a functional label. They serve a purpose – they do something – rather than advertise a product. For example, we supply a major medical device manufacturer with a unique battery spacer for pacemakers.
“At Meyers, we don’t follow the typical categorization of markets,” Pohl adds. “For us, a prime label is anything that’s identifying or decorating a product – and that basket is massive. Converting solutions, on the other hand, is also massive, and it’s where we really hone in on bringing to our customers innovation and added value.”
In the competitive label market, Meyers understands the importance of offering something exciting and different. Temple says, “Any significant new chunk of business we gain is because we bring something new and innovative to the table. We have learned that there is so much more to this business than price alone. In fact, as part of company policy, we no longer participate in unsolicited bid opportunities. Why should we be used to drive prices down for the incumbents? We shouldn’t, because 93% of the time the business doesn’t move.
“One of the most liberating pieces of advice I’ve heard in my career is, ‘If you can’t get it to come out of the mouth of the prospect why they need your differentiating value, then it’s the right decision for the work to go to someone else’,” Temple says.
Conveying the Meyers message of value and innovation to customers is a dedicated team of seven outside sales reps and a marketing department headed by marketing specialist Elizabeth Slama. “Our salespeople have unique backgrounds,” Slama explains. “For example, one of our reps has an engineering background, and he specializes in converting solutions. Another has come up through the company working in R&D, so this person will work with customers on the application side of the business. It’s important to have a high level of understanding and knowledge of the subject matter,” she says. “We also have internal support staff that’s more technical, working to further engage customers.”
Meyers places a strong emphasis on teamwork and collaboration. In fact, Meyers’ corporate Brand Essence is “Collaboration.” The company’s Brand Promise is, “Collaboration, Excellence, Possibilities.” People from the production team will often visit customers with the sales staff to facilitate problem solving and come up with innovative solutions.
“We find people with a business need and we get into position to work side-by-side with them to solve their problems and understand what they are trying to do,” Temple says. “We have tremendous resources here at Meyers to support that and come up with solutions.
“Our largest and best customers come to us because of the value we provide. Sometimes it has something to do with the label itself, and other times it’s because of the level of service we provide and the confidence we instill that the product will deliver real dollars to the customer,” Temple concludes. “Whether it’s the ability to react quickly, meet demand, find a new and different application or improve their efficiencies – there is a whole service model behind it. It’s in our corporate DNA.”