14701 W 106th Street, Lenexa, KS 66215 USA
Ted Williams, CEO and founder of SpectraGraphics, Inc. (SGI), opened his company’s doors in 1975. However, it started out as Par Label & Tape Company and operated out of Kansas City, MO. The company’s early years featured a 3-color International Machines press, and only when Williams began to notice growth did he invest in several Webtron presses.
In 1985, Williams decided to purchase a building and move across state lines to Lenexa, KS, where the company is currently based. With the move came a new identity: SpectraGraphics, Inc. “The company originally focused on the dairy industry as plastic containers for milk displaced paper cartons and provided many new applications for pressure sensitive labels,” explains Williams.
Today, SGI has about 18,000 square feet under one roof, and three-quarters of the space is dedicated to production. The company also utilizes an offsite logistics company for storage of finished inventory and tooling.
In addition to Williams, the leadership team includes Kevin Briggs, president, who has spent 13 years at SGI and has been in the industry for 23 years, as well as Jim Freeman, the operations manager who has been with SGI for 12 years and 26 in the industry.
SGI is primarily a Mark Andy shop, where it offers both conventional and servo units. Among the company’a fleet of Mark Andy presses is a Performance Series P5. SGI still operates a Webtron 750 along with Aztech Converting diecutting units.
“We range from 7.5" to 16" in press widths,” says Briggs. “Our finishing units include several Arpeco machines, CEI and Prati. We use the DuPont Cyrel FAST system for prepress and platemaking in conjunction with Esko Automation Engine software. Our inspection systems include video on some of the presses but are still manual in terms of error recognition.”
SGI recently invested in its second Prati slitter/rewinder with the help of Gallus. In 2014, Gallus and Prati formed a strategic partnership where Gallus handles Prati sales in the US and also provides expertise, aftermarket services and parts to support the equipment. In the fall of 2016, SGI purchased a 13" Prati Saturn Classic servo-driven slitter rewinder, which was installed in early January 2017.
“We had the optional hydraulic roll lift and stroboscope added as options when we purchased the Prati unit,” says Freeman. “Overall, we have been very pleased with the unit and the operators prefer it over our other units. We just recently purchased our second Prati Classic unit to replace another piece of equipment and can’t wait for its arrival.”
According to Freeman, Gallus and Prati were so confident in the machinery they offered to install it with no money down and no payment until after 30 days, otherwise they would take the machine back if SGI was not nsatisfied – at no charge.
Prati’s equipment features a compact, ergonomic design, and Freeman adds that the “self-sharpening knives on the Prati unit are superior in cutting both paper and film substrates.”
SGI currently offers solutions for a wide range of applications, with the exceptions being electronics and automotive. “The majority of our products are prime labels for food and beverage, followed by chemical/durable goods labeling,” explains Briggs. “Another large segment would be blank thermal transfer and direct thermal labels.”
Another core segment for SGI is expanded content labels (ECL), onsert booklet labels, plowfolded constructions, three panel “reseal” products and single use coupons. These products often feature multiple languages, detailed instructions, regulatory compliance information and more.
“We are currently working to grow into unsupported packaging films such as heat sealable lidding,” says Briggs. “We want to explore areas that fit our existing equipment lineup.”
Based on its recent investments and a strong economy in the Kansas City area, Briggs anticipates a bright future for SGI. “We’ve almost tripled our sales over the last decade while updating our equipment to increase efficiency and enhance our product offerings,” he says. “2017 to date is our best year on record from every standpoint, and we don’t see any changes to that pattern forthcoming. We continue to evaluate new technology in terms of print method, prepress/plates, materials and expanded content/coupon chemistry.”
The partnership with Gallus and Prati has also given Briggs optimism for the future. SGI was closely monitoring Gallus’ digital technology when one of its sales representatives recommended Prati. “We mentioned our rapid growth with clients using PET liners and the issues with this material on the older Arpeco units,” says Briggs. “They showed us Prati’s lineup as we needed something comparable in size to the Arpeco, but with greater speeds, tension control and better cutting systems for PET. They were so confident in their Saturn Classic unit they offered an install with no money down and a 30-day trial. They are very well built and easy to use machines.”
The next step for SGI will likely include digital printing. “We’ve been building strategic partnerships with various HP Indigo and UV inkjet converters and currently outsource a substantial amount of digital work to them,” adds Briggs. “We may not bring the technology in-house this year, but likely in early 2018 we will make a decision on which technology and unit best fit our quality and product lineup needs.”
So far, SGI has been impressed with the offering from Gallus and Prati, which includes a DigiFast unit. Not only is their machinery built on a small footprint, but it features operator friendliness and ease of use. Much of SGI’s investment into digital printing is contingent on the offline digital finishing unit.
SGI has been aided by a strong local economy. The area has low unemployment, and the company states that it offers benefit packages substantially better than what’s available in the metro area and on par with upper tier competition in the converter market. SGI has been able to retain key personnel and add experienced employees in all areas. The company currently has 33 employees, and that number has remained consistent over the last decade.
SGI also prides itself on its ability to help customers troubleshoot their problems with label performance, application and pricing. “We are well known in the industry for our customer service and technical abilities in terms of product innovation,” concludes Briggs. –Greg Hrinya