83 Bentert Street, Random Lake, WI 53075 USA
Badger Tag & Label is a label printer steeped in history. This Wisconsin-based converter got its beginning in 1935, and the company has been operating out of the same Random Lake location since that day.
In 1935, Emil Thiel founded Badger Tag Corporation on the motto of, “We fit the tag to its purpose.” This tagline still rings true today.
Thiel participated in multiple business ventures, but the Great Depression left him with a decision. He bought out his partners and other stockholders, and he subsequently invited his two sons, Elmer and Clarence, and three daughters to join him, making the company a family business.
Bob Thiel serves as president, while Dale (DJ) Jacoby and Kevin Kalkofen are vice presidents. Bob, son of Clarence, grew up at the company, where he performed a variety of tasks over summers alongside his brother, Dick. Both brothers joined the company full time after graduating college. Dick recently retired in 2015.
Currently there are 38 employees, and the Badger team features an average tenure of 17.5 years. It wasn’t until 1969, however, that it changed its name to Badger Tag & Label to accurately represent its products. The company currently operates in a 30,000-square foot facility, but construction is underway on a significant expansion. The new facility will be located on 12 acres in the town of Sherman, with an address of N507 Badger Way. The road is custom-named for the company.
The new facility’s construction will also account for possible future expansion. “After our new, second building is completed, we will have an additional 22,000 square feet of space,” says Rita Horstmeier, sales and marketing manager at Badger Tag & Label.
“We are investing in a new production facility, as well as new offices. Additionally, we have purchased a new wide format LED UV inkjet press,” says Jacoby. “After 82 years in the same building, we have outgrown the space and can no longer expand in that location. New equipment requirements will also benefit from a new environmentally controlled building.”
The new space will include 14,271 feet for production, 4,393 feet for warehouse/storage, 2,280 feet of corporate offices and 1,056 feet for a receiving area. Badger will continue to utilize its original building at 83 Bentert Street. Kalkofen says that the company may also increase its workforce in the future.
According to Kalkofen, Badger Tag & Label operates with nine New Era letterpresses, a Mark Andy and three Webtron flexo presses, as well as two digital presses: an Anapurna UV inkjet press and a CET LED UV inkjet press. “We have eight stringing or wiring machines, as well as other finishing equipment,” explains Kalkofen. Badger uses Arpeco rewinding equipment.
The company sells approximately 60% tags and 40% labels to a wide variety of markets and boasts annual sales revenue of $7 million. “We sell heavily into the manufacturing sector but also sell to businesses in the steel, food, retail, nursery, lumber and chemical industries, along with many, many more through a strong distributor network,” says Horstmeier. “We also sell a wide range of tags and labels on paper and synthetic materials.”
Badger Tag & Label’s adhesives range from ultra-removable to very aggressive. It also offers a variety of finishing options including stringing, wiring and patching.
“We are a custom manufacturer, so we are very good at sampling materials and helping customers with new projects,” adds Horstmeier. “We simplify the complicated.”
The economic status in Wisconsin has allowed Badger Tag & Label to find continued growth, which is enabling its current expansion. “The local economy has rebounded well since 2009, and yet, we continue to find quality employees even in a low unemployment area of the state,” says Bob Thiel.
The company is committed to sustainability too. Its maintenance team, along with a local electrician, recently replaced all 407 of the facility’s fluorescent bulbs with LED bulbs. Since LED bulbs do not contain mercury, they don’t require special handling for disposal and don’t contribute to toxic waste in landfills. Badger Tag & Label’s LED bulbs emit light in a 110-degree field compared to 360 degrees of fluorescent. Therefore, 70% of the light hits its intended target as opposed to 30% with fluorescent bulbs. The move has allowed Badger Tag & Label to reduce its carbon footprint while generating cost savings.
Badger Tag & Label is also quite active in the labels and packaging community, as well as the surrounding Random Lake area. The company is an active member of TLMI (the Tag and Label Manufacturers Institute) and the Print Services & Distribution Association (PSDA), which was formerly known as the Document Management Industries Association (DMIA). Badger Tag & Label is a member of the Random Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, as well. – Greg Hrinya