Precision Tape was founded in 1974 in Millbury, MA by a family that owned a newspaper supply company. The initial business model was based on the intention of manufacturing and supplying tape products – specifically border tape – to the newspaper industry. The company’s first location was in the basement of a movie theater, later moving to a building that was on the same campus of the newspaper supply company.
As time went on, and the demand for border tape dwindled with the introduction of computer programs for design, Precision Tape put their presses to good use and began selling and producing 1-4 color pressure sensitive labels. It was then that “label” was appropriately added to its name, and labels became the main focus of the company.
In the early 80s, a printer and manager with Precision since its inception, Ralph Secord, became a minority partner. He loved running a press, but he had a great mind for business and eventually came off press and focused solely on management responsibilities. Always keeping his pulse on the presses, Ralph was very much a hands on manager and knew every single facet of the business. However, after working with and for three other partners for nearly two decades, Ralph was ready for a new challenge and purchased the company outright in 1992 along with the rights to the Precision Tape & Label name. In the two years following the purchase, he built his own building, relocating the operation to nearby Uxbridge, MA, and purchased a 6-color Mark Andy press to expand the company’s printing capabilities from four colors to six. In addition, a new rewinder was added and various pieces of supportive equipment became fixtures on the production floor.
In the months and years following relocation, Ralph’s wife, Deborah Secord, and his daughter, Nicolle [Secord] Voellings, joined the company full time in accounting and customer service roles respectively. Deborah was planning on being a temporary fill-in while Nicolle was learning various aspects of the business while working towards her college degree. Today Nicolle serves as president of Precision Tape & Label.
“Precision Tape & Label continued to be managed exclusively by Ralph until his untimely death in 1998,” Nicolle says. “However, before his passing, he asked us if we wanted to continue running the business in his anticipated absence. He knew Precision Tape & Label was his dream – not necessarily ours. But we decided to give the business a shot. I was a college student and Deb was a young widow, but we had a legacy to uphold, extraordinary employees to continue to employ, and long-time customers to serve.”
Eventually Ralph’s other daughter, Melissa, joined the team part-time in a support capacity in various roles, thus making it very much a family business.
“Here we are, closing in on 20 years since Ralph’s passing, and we have increased our printing capabilities, improved our lead times, and have persevered through a relatively trying manufacturing climate,” Nicolle says. “While we would prefer Ralph to be the head of the company, having been dealt the circumstances, we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Most recently, Precision acquired updated prepress equipment – a CRON Digital Flexo Imager and a FUJI C-TOUCH water wash flexo plate processor and RIP. These upgrades to the prepress department were driven by customer demands for higher quality screens and tighter quality all around. Nicolle says, “It took us almost a decade to decide upon this particular upgrade, and since March of this year, it has served us very well!”
Precision Tape & Label has a relatively diverse customer base. However, its main markets are various product and retail labels. “We produce a lot of prime labels for food packaging, chemical labeling, apparel labeling and the like,” Nicolle explains. “We thoroughly enjoy the challenge of finding solutions to difficult applications – be it concrete products, highly removable applications such as those for windows, or high temperature applications enduring 1000 degree F environments.”
The vast majority of Precision’s business is through brokers and those relationships and partnerships are the backbone of the company. “We generally produce 1-6 color custom printed labels, including 4-color process, on a multitude of materials. From 20 gauge polystyrenes, to high quality papers, to durable polyesters and vinyl, we find a way to print on most any substrate our customers require,” Nicolle says.
High end food labels is a current growth market. Nicolle explains, “We’re finding that our customers are looking to improve the look of their products with more ornate designs and high quality materials to set their products apart on shelf. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with customers – old and new – as many have reinvented their packaging over the years.
“We honestly feel like we have an exceptional customer base of knowledgeable, enthusiastic and engaging resellers. While the majority of our business is through brokers, we never have and never will go direct to their customers. In fact, the brokers that we work with have repeatedly trusted us with their end users, often requesting that we deal direct with their clients regarding artwork, material selection and basic recommendations,” Nicolle says, adding, “We truly feel that our customers are our partners and we are extremely grateful for the confidence that they place in our team.”
At Precision Tape & Label, “just in time” deliveries are the norm. “Labels are not often on the forefront of the minds of end users when they are already juggling many balls in the air when launching a new product or product line,” says Nicolle. “Therefore, while labels are important, they are often the last piece of an intricate and detailed puzzle that then requires us to expedite and deliver, and we do this really well. Since we handle all facets of production here in one single location (minus custom tooling), we have a lot of control over delivery and that makes a notable difference when our customers need product fast.”
Precision Tape & Label exclusively runs narrow web Mark Andy presses. A 6-color, 7" 2100 is capable of printing two sides, laminating, varnishing and printing quality process work. Two 4-color, 10" Mark Andy 910s are outfitted to print moderate volume 0-4 color projects and are especially suited for creating custom laminations and constructions. Two 3-color, 7" Mark Andy 730s are ideal for short run printing as well as slitting, rewinding and laminating. “In addition, we have several tabletop rewinders to accommodate multiple finished core IDs and ODs, shrink-wrap capabilities, custom built wide-web slitting equipment, a Seybold guillotine, and the new state-of-the-art CRON prepress equipment.
Looking ahead, the team at Precision Tape & Label believes the future remains bright for quick turnaround, competitively-priced flexo labels. “It’s what we do best,” concludes Nicolle. “We also feel that continuing to build quality partnerships with vendors that produce products that we do not, and vice versa, will serve us well into the near future as we take our time evaluating our own expansion aspirations, which includes adding digital printing equipment and upgrades to our existing tried and true presses.
“Our plans for e-commerce, improved customer accessibility for ordering and quoting, and press upgrades are all at the forefront of our mind heading into 2019. And down the line, we have a great deal of optimism for a third generation management team.”