Catapult Print launched in April 2018 with a goal of disrupting the print and packaging industry. Based in Orlando, FL with distribution centers in PA, TX, IL and CA, the business aims to bring an under-one-roof solution to the market that combines a seamless end-to-end service, with unrivaled production capabilities.
With 25 years of experience in design and print, the Catapult team is led by a “serial entrepreneur,” CEO Mark Cook. From his early career as a professional footballer to his recent successes as a partner in a $37 million international packaging design agency, founder and CEO Mark Cook brings his goal-oriented, focused work ethic to Catapult. Working 16-hour days seven-days a week to progress rapidly through the ranks with a label printing company in the UK, Cook learned the industry from the print floor up. From initially packing boxes to mastering a wide range of machinery, he moved into sales. His hard work paid off, enabling him to secure a director and shareholder role at Paragon Print and Packaging, which he helped grow from a $2.5 million to a $240 million turnover business.
Cook was also instrumental in the rapid growth of Equator, a packaging design agency that spans the US, UK and European markets, increasing sales from $5 million to $35 million in just four years. After helping Equator towards a successful acquisition deal that saw the company become part of the £1.5 billion SGK global marketing group in 2017, Cook decided it was time to invest in a new challenge. The result is Catapult, a printing business that Cook says will redefine a new print sector model in the US.
“We work across the entire FMCG sector, with a bias towards food and drink, and health and beauty,” Cook explains. “We specialize in three specific areas: self-adhesive, narrow web film and linerless labeling, and are working across a variety of packaging formats from pouches and sachets to cartons and bottles. A huge current focus for us has been linerless labeling for the fresh fish industry for numerous retailers.”
The emphasis on linerless speaks to brand owners’ drive in seeking out sustainable label alternatives, such as compostable self-adhesive labels that are suitable for dry, non-fatty foods and can be glued directly to fruit or vegetables. “This is a pretty niche market currently, but is expected to grow,” Cook says, adding, “Our linerless capabilities are pretty unique in the US and we are certainly seeing greater engagement and understanding from our customer-base of how converting to linerless can effectively tick the sustainability box. The total elimination of the release liner means there is less waste, which, until now, was one of the key waste materials specific to the label industry. This is expected to aid in exploring solutions to landfill problems worldwide.”
The changing US retail food space is having an impact on Catapult customers. Explains Cook, “Amazon’s entry to the sector, along with the explosion of the private-brand model, has made it a very competitive marketplace. Online shopping has forced changes in the brick and mortar offerings, forcing a rethink by the industry in terms of driving foot traffic to stores. We are working with retailers, brands and manufacturers to tackle this, by delivering a print solution that allows them to best showcase their own-label products on the shelf. It’s a vision that’s anchored in our experience of the US and UK design and print industries and is focused on leveraging that understanding to answer our clients’ needs with a creative printing business unlike anything the US market has seen before.”
Catapult Print offers rapid turnaround times in order to give retailers and brands a competitive edge. “We understand that it simply isn’t good enough not to be able to react to feedback or consumer demands in a timely manner, especially given the fact that packaging is seen as such a crucial part of the brand experience. The competitive landscape in the FMCG sector won’t get any easier in the foreseeable future,” Cook says. “Focusing on response times can provide a strategic advantage, helping bring products to market faster and allowing retailers the ability to get closer to their customer base, which in turn drives engagement and sales.”
Leading edge technology is setting Catapult Print apart from its competitors, Cook says. The business has invested in a host of technologies including Esko’s XPS Crystal CDI, award-winning Hamillroad Software’s Bellissima Digitally Modulated Screening (DMS) as well as advanced photopolymer plate technology from MacDermid. Two of the latest Nilpeter FA presses, as well as patented GTT anilox technology from Apex are also housed in the 56,000 square foot Florida manufacturing site.
“Our investment in equipment has allowed us to have an ‘all-under-one-roof’ service,” says Cook. “When a job comes in everything happens on site – from plate making to ink mixing – which means we can turn things around much quicker than anyone else can. We’ve cut out the ‘middle man’ so nothing is outsourced, which usually would add days if not weeks onto a job.”
INX International Ink Co. is another one of Catapult’s suppliers, and had played an instrumental role in the company’s adoption of low migration ink technology. Ron Deegan, Vice President of Sales – North America Liquid Ink Division, for INX International Ink Co., explains, “Catapult Print made the decision to be a fully integrated low migration facility from the start. After reviewing our manufacturing capabilities in North America and having previous experience printing with our Low Migration UV flexo Inks, it was a perfect fit. Catapult made it very clear from the start that they wanted to do things differently, to change the habits of past generations and raise standards across the industry as a whole in terms of print quality. Together we designed a state-of-the-art ink room to compliment their world-class print shop with brand new Nilpeter UV flexo presses. The end goal is to achieve zero color match time and high-quality low migration labels for their extensive customer base that includes retailers, brand owners and manufacturers.”
Just as Catapult takes a partnership approach with its vendors, the company does the same with its customers and employees. “Our customers are trying to keep up with the demands of the end user – which are changing more and more frequently. We personally feel that the print industry has become somewhat apathetic when it comes to producing a quality finish that is priced fairly and is delivered in a timely manner, our vision when we set out was to change all that,” says Cook, adding, “The model at Catapult Print allows us to work with big retailers or local customers on a variety of projects entirely under-one-roof, which is unique. Being super-efficient results in cost savings that benefit our clients. We don’t use brokers so don’t pay commission to people only interested in margins. Instead, the savings we make go back into delivering the best possible service for our customers. Our investment in cutting edge systems such as Bellissima plate technology and our on-site ink lab further enhance our productivity. By fully integrating our systems, we’re able to effectively scrutinize each project stage and have implemented a pit-stop mentality on the production line to further reduce time and costs.”
Catapult’s policy is to recruit entrepreneurs and self-starters who will make a difference. Cook says, “We look to empower our colleagues with a ‘just go with it’ motto and encourage people to generate ideas – be them large or small – to help improve how individuals do their job and, in turn, positively impact the business. We also believe in having transparency to encourage employees to get involved in the business at a deeper level. So, every month we hold a company-wide meeting to encourage people to ask questions and give feedback and, most of all, understand how the business works. This level of interaction allows for the fostering of great working relationships and demonstrates that we’re all in this together.
“We’re also opening the door here at Catapult Print to those without any relevant experience,” adds Cook. “Currently we have three prepress operatives who came to us without any experience. Now they are each taking care of their own individual areas. We see real benefits in having some inexperienced employees working alongside more seasoned colleagues as they are able to bring fresh ideas to the table and often have a unique way of looking at things, which can be extremely valuable.”
Catapult’s “never-say-no” culture means that all staff are committed to putting the customer first. Concludes Cook, “We all share a passion for customer service that we hope shines through every time a customer works with us – from sales staff to the person who picks up the phone, right through to the driver who delivers the order.”