After 13 years in business, Target Labels & Packaging in Salt Lake City, UT, continues to add customer value and achieve consistent double-digit annual growth by focusing on quality, accuracy, speed – and security.
“I call us a security company that happens to make labels and flexible packaging,” says Jeff Cheak, Target’s president and CEO, and a 30-year industry veteran who joined the company four years ago. “Our job is to ensure the security of our employees, our suppliers, our community, and, of course, our customers. That’s why we exist.”
Target was founded in June 2006 as a pressure sensitive label manufacturer and entered the flexible packaging market in 2009 with short-run narrow web printing. In 2011 Target became fully invested in solvent-free lamination, wide web flexo printing, slitting and converting.
The company’s two buildings cover roughly 50,000 square feet, and house HP Indigo 20000 and WS4500 digital presses, a 57" Uteco Onyx 808 gearless high-speed flexographic press and laminator, a 16" Nilpeter flexo press, 10" Mark Andy flexo press, 60" Nordmeccanica laminator, four pouch machines, a diecut lidding machine, seaming equipment for shrink sleeves, a high-speed slitter, a flat-bed bag machine, and a 60" laser for diecut windows and easy-tear microperforations for flexible packaging.
“We believe in purchasing capacity based on potential activity versus actual orders,” Cheak explains. “We talk about the Amazon effect. Expectations are changing, and people often care more about lead times than anything else. They want to go online, order, and receive their product in two or three days – or the same day. It’s changed how we have to react to get new business. We invest in capacity to ensure we’re ready to deliver on the short lead times today’s customers require, and maintain our leadership among the industry’s fastest turnaround times.
That’s why Target has decided to embrace digital printing. “We have invested the time, talent and money to be on the leading edge of digital technology for more than a decade,” says Josh Jenks, technical sales director, and part of the family that started and still owns the business. “After the HP Indigo 20000 came out, I went to Israel – twice – to look at the machine and prepare, and in our first month of production, we had short-run launches of products that ended up in Walmart and Walgreens, and became longer-run jobs down the road.”
The site is ISO 9001:2008 certified and has earned a Superior rating from the American Institute of Baking. Superior service is also part of Target’s secret sauce.
“Whether it’s 8 o’clock at night, or on a Saturday afternoon, our customers can have questions during a production run, and we always answer our phones when they need us, not when it’s convenient for us,” Jenks says. “Once I answered the phone when I was on vacation walking along the Great Wall of China.”
Target’s ever-growing list of services includes full-service printing for pressure sensitive labels, flexible packaging, and shrink sleeves; as well as stand-up pouches, stick packs, poly bags, roll stock, custom diecutting, metallic and specialized inks, embossing, foil lamination, converting, slitting, and even promotional products. Environmentally-conscious offerings, such as recyclable pouches and liners and compostable films, ensure customers have access to sustainable options.
Since its beginnings in the food and beverage, pet food and products, and supplements industries, the company has expanded to also serve markets such as personal care, industrial, and home and garden. This year, Target exhibited for the first time at Pack Expo in Las Vegas, NV.
“We’re not reckless, but we’re fearless and we take risks,” Cheak notes. “When everyone else says ‘No,’ we say ‘Yes.’ That’s what we did with one forming web project. Everyone told us it couldn’t be done, but we did it anyway. We printed full graphics on a roll to resemble a natural craft project, then made it into a tray. The customer loved it, and it went to Whole Foods as packaging for high-end lamb chops.”
Target’s team members may welcome risk, but they also work hard to ensure that their products are risk-free. A year ago, they brought sophisticated testing capabilities in-house with a full-service lab where technicians are dedicated to putting burst packaging, seal strength, color, bond, friction, rubbing, scuffing, layer distribution, and other critical elements of form and function through their paces. A database stores all test results.
“It’s a unique customer benefit that’s really for our peace of mind, to know we’ve made a secure product,” Cheak says. “It also makes us nimbler and more flexible, and allows us to further reduce lead time.”
Target’s skilled, in-house creative team develops concepts to bring the customer’s vision to life, and an automated front-end graphics system allows the customer to log in and see the artwork at any time. Indeed, the entire business is managed via a sophisticated enterprise resource planning (ERP) and material requirements planning (MRP) system that provides traceability of everything from materials to processes, for added security.
Also new is the thermal oxidizer being installed to incinerate off-gases for production. “It’s the right thing to do, first to control VOC pollution and reduce our carbon footprint in our community,” Cheak says, “and second to recover wasted energy to reuse in our systems.”
But despite these advanced technologies and approaches, for Target, success is less about the equipment and more about the people using it. “Anyone can buy the same equipment,” Cheak maintains. “It’s how you deploy it that matters.”
Deploying Target’s equipment and systems are 70 employees, with the production plant running on three shifts from Monday to Thursday and over the weekend.
“We are proud of our flexible workforce,” Cheak says. “Most of us don’t fit into boxes. We have titles because business demands them, but whatever the task, we jump in and get the job done. Sometimes people come on board thinking they want to do one thing, then discover they have the talent and passion to do something else, and it’s no problem. We want them to find the right seat on our bus and continue to grow so they can succeed and feel more secure. One of our best sales representatives started in slitting and rewinding, moved to graphics, and then transitioned to sales, all with on-the-job training. That flexibility is how we’ve been able to triple Target’s revenues in the last five years.”
Cheak and his team also proactively support other companies that are just starting or are in a growth curve. “We’ll give customers an opportunity to use new technology, such as digital, or even find other converters or label companies that might have a better solution for a particular project,” Cheak says. “We look at every relationship as an opportunity to partner and network. It’s interesting how often that comes back around and pays off for us, as well. We want to be a disrupter. In today’s world, people want more, better and faster. They want a great experience, and that’s what we’re fixated on delivering.”