9310 4th Ave S, Seattle, WA, USA
The Revere Group is a label and packaging company with a history that embodies the entrepreneurial spirit. A true family business, the Seattle, WA-based packaging supplier and manufacturer has a long and rich history – its origins date back to the 1930s – and it is forging ahead by leveraging the latest in flexographic printing innovation.
Mark Revere is president of The Revere Group, and he proudly tells the story of how his grandfather, Marius Glerup, started the business in 1938. At first, the company was a one-man-show, with Marius serving as a broker of packaging materials. He sourced corrugated materials from the East Coast of the US, and then had them shipped to the Pacific Northwest via the Panama Canal. In addition to corrugated, Marius brokered several types of packaging for the candy and confectionary markets – a niche where the Revere Group continues to thrive in today.
In 1960, Bill Revere – Mark’s father – joined Marius in the business. Bill’s contributions were pivotal, as he engineered what was, at the time, a one-of-a-kind packaging concept. Explains Mark, “When my Dad came on board, he developed a product that was an aluminum foil with spot lamination. After struggling to find local manufacturers to produce it, he went overseas and found a partner that could create this structure. This product would become the predominant packaging material used in the fast food industry for sandwiches and hot food wraps,” Mark says, adding, “My dad was the first to develop that market in the Northwest region.”
In addition to its strong presence in candy packaging – supplying items such as doilies and candy cups – the company expanded its offerings to include food service, bag and general food packaging products. The small business was not yet manufacturing, however, but that would soon change.
move to manufacturing
Mark Revere feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to work side-by-side with both his father and grandfather. And for some time, the trio comprised the entire workforce.
When Mark came on board in 1981, one of his first accomplishments was getting the organization computerized and automated. Growth was gradual, and as The Revere Group evolved, employees and new production lines were added. Mark credits the addition of a line of specialty packaging from Europe as being instrumental in the company’s more than 30% annual growth rate for five straight years in the mid 80s.
He explains, “There were niche types of packaging that were big in Europe but hadn’t taken off in the US. We saw an opportunity in taking certain types of candy packaging from being commodity-type products into the high-end gift market. And it was then that we started printing and distributing to our customers color catalogs, which really did well.”
Mark recalls noticing a lack of supply when it came to customized foil for wrapping chocolates. “At the time, you could buy this type of foil in Europe, but the quantities required were extremely high. I realized a cost-effective way to do this in smaller quantities, in roll form, so we enlisted the help of a local converter, and for a year, we had these rolls of foil printed for us. Once our volume was high enough, we were able to justify buying a press,” he says.
In 1989, The Revere Group purchased its first flexo press – a 3-color Mark Andy 830 – marking its initial foray into printing and converting. Trained at Mark Andy headquarters in St. Louis, MO, Mark Revere became The Revere Group’s first press operator. “We would work all day taking orders, then at night run the press for four or five hours – whatever it took,” he says. “It was a lot of long hours and hard work, but it was worth it.
“All we were doing was printing on foil,” Mark continues. “We’d sell a roll or two to our customers – which was just 5,000-10,000 feet of material. Prior to what we were able to offer them, they had to buy $2,000-$3,000 worth of foil since there was no solution at the time for short fun foil applications.”
These rolls of foil “sold like wildfire,” Mark says. “Confectioners loved it. We were only selling to candy companies, who were mostly mom and pop-type shops with just one or two stores. We sold to these customers all over the country – that was our niche and who we focused on.”
While The Revere Group was converting enough foil to pay for the press, nonetheless it remained idle a lot of the time. “So we thought, ‘What else can we do with it?’ Well, it’s designed to print labels, so we hired someone to sell labels, then a graphic artist – and one thing begot another. Pretty soon, we had a comprehensive label manufacturing division,” Mark says.
In 1996, Mark Revere and his wife, Sally, took on sole ownership of the company. Sally, who is instrumental in day-to-day operations, was a significant force with Mark in the company’s move to bringing manufacturing in-house. And with one of the Revere’s daughters among the now 60 employees, The Revere Group today is a fourth generation family business.
From labels to flexible packaging
As the label printing business grew, so too did the overall operation, with The Revere Group outgrowing its original 1,000 square foot office space into progressively larger facilities more conducive to manufacturing. Another Mark Andy 830 was added, followed by an investment in its first inline press, an Allied Gear 500 Series.
Additional press acquisitions came in the form of two Mark Andy 2200s – a 10" and then a 13" machine. The 8-color, 13" press, which was initially purchased to print labels, was equipped with soft tension lamination, and it got The Revere Group into film converting and flexible packaging – specifically in the area of water bottle wraps.
In 2008, The Revere Group settled into its current 54,000 square foot Seattle home, which coincided with the purchase of a used 22", 11-color Comco Pro Glide, used primarily to meet the needs of a large water bottle label customer.
Before they knew it, the flexible packaging side of the business was outgrowing the label division. At the time, Mark attributed this to labels being somewhat of a commodity, particularly with there being so many label manufacturers competing in the Seattle area.
When it came to focusing on flexible packaging, Mark recalls, “We wanted to do something that not everyone was doing.”
The Revere Group was ahead of its competition when it came to adopting flexible packaging capabilities. “We were doing solventless laminating on the Comco line, which was something that folks kind of raised their eyebrows at – it just wasn’t common at the time,” Mark says.
Doing things differently than its competitors, such as being an early adopter of certain technologies, is thematic of The Revere Group business model, and speaks to Mark Revere’s sense of uniqueness. He says, “We were an early adopter of both UV LED, as well as low migration ink. We also have a proprietary de-metalizing process, which, to my knowledge, truly sets us apart from other narrow web converters in North America. We like to do things that are different – it’s fun to have capabilities that not everyone else has.”
Booming with Bobst
After about five years of growth and converting success with the Comco, the press – an older model – was pretty much at capacity. The time had come, Mark recalls, to put resources toward upgrades or invest in a new machine altogether.
“We were specifically looking for a press to do flexible packaging, to replace the Comco. Our goal was to improve our quality and our efficiencies, and to do so in an environmentally responsible manner,” Mark says. “We decided there are a number of reasons new technology made the most sense for us. So we started looking at new presses – it was a two-year process, culminating in our production manager going to Labelexpo Europe, where the ‘Flower’ concept from Italian press manufacturer Gidue (at the time), seemed quite novel.”
Following that trip to Brussels, in 2014, The Revere Group invited all of the major press manufacturers to its Seattle facility to make initial presentations. “We narrowed the list down to the three candidates we felt had the most advanced offerings. Bobst, which was still Gidue at the time, stood out with the most advanced technology and the more intuitive operator interface. Next, we visited the first installed M5 press in Europe and made a trip to the next Labelexpo in Brussels to validate our decision,” Mark recalls.
So impressed with Bobst technology, The Revere Group ordered not one, but two presses – one for labels and one for flexible packaging. Interestingly and fortuitous, after signing the purchase order but before the presses were delivered, Gidue was acquired by Bobst, thus reinforcing the decision. Bobst has a reputation and track record of being a technology leader with a substantial global footprint in the greater printing industry, and was now committed to the labels and flexible packaging markets.
The new M5-370 label press at The Revere Group replaced the two Mark Andy 2200s, and the M5-630 film press is gradually phasing out the Comco. Both presses are equipped with custom engineering from Bobst, adding turrets on the ends to deliver nonstop printing for longer run jobs.
And as early adopters of the technology in North America, Mark emphasizes that Bobst was thrilled with the challenge and couldn’t be more helpful in delivering the presses with the exact specifications The Revere Group sought.
One of the key selling points for The Revere Group in adopting Bobst technology was the presence of the REVO system, also known as the “Digital Flexo Revolution.” REVO is the product of Bobst technology working in conjunction with several workflow supplier partners.
“The REVO system includes temperature-controlled anilox rolls and the most amazing print-registration capability, including running and lateral registration, plus automated pressure settings to control impressions,” Mark says. “Also a key component of REVO is color control and its repeatability within each run, and from run-to-run. These factors combined allow us to print more than 90% of our work using the Extended Color Gamut – CMYKOGV.”
Extended Color Gamut Success
Mark Revere credits much of his company’s recent success to not only Bobst technology, but also the incorporation of extended color gamut printing.
“We had been working with water-based inks, blended for PMS colors. But there was always residual ink in the pans, some of which went into wastewater, which in turn became wasted money on ink,” Mark says. “The Extended Color Gamut technique – with seven standard colors, CMYK, plus Orange, Green and Violet – works through a manipulation of dots on printing plates to create a specific Pantone color. They’re UV LED-cured inline on the presses, so we leave these inks in all the time. A chiller automatically maintains the temperature of our aniloxes to control the inks, irrespective of our shop’s temperature. There is no pouring blended inks, and no washing up. The same inks run all shifts, so we gain production time with every shift. And we keep everything out of the waste stream.
“But the best part for our customers is the litho-like print quality, from one run to the next. Our Bobst presses lend themselves to short runs. The Extended Color Gamut and our M5s give us extremely tight repeatability and outstanding registration from deck to deck,” Mark says.
Using an Extended Color Gamut system, Mark says, requires a fair amount of explanation and confidence-building with designers who aren’t familiar with this type of printing. “They don’t need to be at press checks anymore,” he adds. “We get a file from the designer, and once it goes through our prepress department, we provide a match-print proof and we nail it.”
The Bobst presses have played an instrumental role in The Revere Group meeting its goals and speaking to the company’s values and culture – which is steeped in eco-friendly processes. Mark says, “There’s a huge reduction in waste – with both inks and substrates – as a result of the press technologies, including the Extended Color Gamut and our UV LED curing system.”
He adds, “We’ve grown immeasurably in terms of our quality, which was already good, but is now truly world-class. And we’re growing sales significantly as a result – we’re up over 35% since installing this new technology.”
To Mark, backed by his recent investments, the future is now at The Revere Group. “Long-term, I think water-based inks will be a thing of the past. This print technology is the future. These presses have performed incredibly, and Bobst’s support has been fantastic. Our total cost of ownership is certainly lower on an ongoing basis than it was on the presses we replaced, and the quality simply can’t be compared.”