Brad Weber took the path less traveled to get to Cypress Multigraphics. After spending years working for the family business, he decided to branch out on his own. Cypress Multigraphics’ current growth trajectory has more than validated his decision.
Cypress Multigraphics was established in the 1970’s as a print broker, which eventually evolved into manufacturing with Markem thermal ribbon presses. When Weber bought the label printing company in 2006, it had two Mark Andy presses – a 6-color 2200 and an 830 press, a Newfoil hot stamp press – as well as four Lintec letterpresses.
“The technology became old, obsolete, inefficient – it didn’t work really – so we started buying Mark Andy 2200s to replace them,” explains Weber. “Well, we just kept buying Mark Andy presses. The 2200s led to some P4s, which led to the Digital Series HD hybrid press.”
When Weber started in the printing business in 1986, he dealt with Mark Andy’s sales manager, Roy Webb. Since that time, he has acquired more than 50 Mark Andy presses for label factories all over the world, dealing with Webb on each purchase.
Today, the company has two facilities – one in Tinley Park, IL, and the other in Brooklyn Center, MN. It also acquired the label division of GSI in 2016, which has been assimilated into both facilities. The company currently has 35 employees at its 33,000 square-foot factory in Tinley Park and another 30 employees at its 30,000 square-foot space in Brooklyn Center.
Cypress Multigraphics runs its roll-to-roll flexo operations in Tinley Park, while Brooklyn Center primarily features screen printing, wide format digital and polyurethane doming. In Minnesota, the company utilizes presses made by Sakurai, Mimaki and Roland. Cypress has steadily added more digital capabilities over the last 5-plus years with the addition of several Roland Ecosolve roll printers and standalone plotter/cutters. While this has served Cypress’s primary customer base quite well, an expansion of technology was needed to fill more markets and allow for more substrate possibilities.
“You’re not going to see too many companies, in this industry of more than 3,000 label manufacturers in the United States, like us,” says Weber. “There are only a handful that do both roll-to-roll flexo, rotary screen and have the most advanced digital equipment that we have now in the Mark Andy hybrid. Add to that all our screen and digital capabilities in Minnesota, we offer a complete package of label printing solutions.”
Cypress Multigraphics prints a wide range of labels for customers on a global scale. In fact, 60% of what the company produces is exported to Mexico, Canada, China, Malaysia and numerous countries in Europe. The company prints everything from food and beverage to highly-regulated pharmaceutical labels, as well as nutraceuticals. In addition, Cypress specializes in UL-approved durable goods labels.
With a diverse range of products, the reliability of Mark Andy has served Cypress Multigraphics well. “I’ve always been a firm believer in standardizing on equipment, if you can,” explains Weber. “Then you grow on that platform going forward. With many converters today, you walk into their shop and they might have four or five different manufacturers of presses on their floor. That means you need to have the same number of people trained, spare parts and tools, which is not efficient.”
According to Weber, he took a hard stance on digital for a long time. “We were looking at digital for years and years, and I didn’t like the way some companies were handling the technology,” he notes. “There were too many off-line requirements after printing, as there was all this finishing you had to do. Also, I didn’t like the way other press manufacturers were controlling my costs by forcing me to buy supplies from them, at their set price. With Mark Andy, I can buy supplies, such as ink, from whoever I want. Also, I just felt comfortable with my history of doing business with Mark Andy. They already had their first-generation hybrid press out, and when they upped the speed and got the image quality to 1200 x 1200 dpi – that was as good as it got.
“It wasn’t a hard decision to go with Mark Andy, but it was a real long decision,” Weber adds. “I was looking into digital for several years.”
“When we first started talking about digital, we always felt that quality was there but speed was a big concern,” explains Tim Thomas, general manager. “When we realized that white had such good opacity on this press and moved at over 200 fpm, that was what pushed us to Mark Andy.”
Weber is not quick to adopt the latest technology if it doesn’t make the most sense for his business. He held out on adopting Mark Andy’s P-Series press to replace his 2200s until it accommodated the tooling he already had in place. Then, before adopting the Mark Andy Digital Series HD, he needed to see Mark Andy make some improvements on its earlier first generation press.
“The first generation was too slow and the quality wasn’t quite there. They also didn’t handle unsupported film, which is a market I’m not in now but might want to get into later,” says Weber. “Mark Andy made huge leaps from the gen 1 to the gen 2, so I was comfortable enough to jump in and be the first adopter of their hybrid press.”
According to Thomas, who worked with Weber for some 20 years prior to joining him at Cypress Multigraphics, the Mark Andy hybrid press should allow the company to expand into new business that was previously unavailable due to its short-run nature. “We’ll mostly be in the same markets as before, but there will be customers we may not have called on because they had high SKUs and low quantities that we weren’t able to service before,” says Thomas. “We service a lot of markets, but we’ll take on new customers.”
Cypress Multigraphics has also positioned itself for success with a unique business model – one that also lends itself to the proliferation of digital printing. Unlike most converters, the company does not produce its own plates in-house. “Everybody in this industry is so proud that they make their own plates, and that’s really good,” says Weber. “But there are companies in this industry who can service us a lot better than me spending money on people, equipment and space. We outsource and get all our plates from Robert Smithson at Trinity Graphics in Sarasota, FL. What’s the key? We’ve got some excellent, talented graphics people working for us, and Trinity Graphics works well within our system and us in theirs.”
In the future, Cypress Multigraphics will look to continue growing organically. In addition, the company will keep an eye out for acquisitions. Cypress Multigraphics plans to build on its reputation for excellent customer service, which has allowed it to garner business from around the world.
“Customers choose Cypress Multigraphics because we’re a great company to do business with, and we’re very responsive,” says Melanie Rakowski, production manager. “When you call here, you’re always going to get a person, not a recording, and we take pride in that.”
“Being small allows us to be really maneuverable,” explains Weber. “We’re a lot more flexible than a large company – in any industry. So if one of our customers needs something out of the ordinary or special, we have an infrastructure here where you can cut right to the decision makers and not go through a lot of red tape like you would with a much larger organization. Plus, we’ve got the latest technology available and know how to use it.”
“We can print anything anybody wants,” concludes Weber. “If ink can go on it, we can print on it.”