The image of an ink-splattered pressroom filled with loud and clunky machinery is fading away. Sure, there are some out there, but a dying breed they are. And they’re quickly being replaced by clean facilities with digital equipment running in tandem with advanced software and equipment that can keep up.
Speed has become the name of the game. Converters are looking at faster digital presses because their customers want their orders today. And if you can’t meet their speed-to-market needs, they’ll simply go with someone who can.
It’s often said that quality is a given in today’s competitive label market – and that may be true, thanks to advancements in all sectors, from prepress to inks to presses. So service is where you can set yourself apart, and in the label business, service often translates to speed. Speed transcends the pressroom and extends into every facet of the business – 24/7 customer service is not out of the question. Having a real person on the phone or someone who can chat with you in real-time is a great benefit to a business.
Now on to energy – something you can’t see, smell, touch or taste, but you know it’s there. It’s here in the label industry (just read one of my many Labelexpo post-show reports), and it’s also here behind the scenes at Label & Narrow Web. Our contributing editors have lots of it, especially Calvin Frost, who has been writing for L&NW longer than I have.
Calvin, who authors our Letters from the Earth column, is not only our champion for all things sustainable and eco-friendly, but he also belongs to the industry at large. I marvel at his tirelessness, and you never know where in the world he’ll show up. He travels quite a bit and is a regular at TLMI and FINAT events alike – a true globalist.
He’ll also call people out when he senses things are amiss, myself included. In 2016, after I returned from a press junket to Indonesia, I wrote a rather complimentary article on APP (Asia Pulp & Paper). Following its publication, I received an “education” from Calvin on the paper supplier’s environmental track record (not so complimentary).
No other L&NW writer gets more “fan mail” than Calvin. Whether it’s about Donald Trump and the Paris Accord or Tom Clarke, the embattled coal mogul, Calvin’s columns resonate. (Last issue, he scooped a Minnesota newspaper with his column about Clarke.) And because of his passion, I’d like to think we have gained more subscribers than we’ve lost. Ironically, with all this talk of our fast-moving industry, it moves rather slowly on the sustainability front.
With all that said, I’ll close this first editorial of 2018 with a quote from Ferris Bueller, which can be applied to digital print adoption, customer service or a number of other aspects of the label business: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”
Steve Katz, Editor