HANOVER PARK, Ill. — As a 30-year-old plastics-printing business (created by its founder/owner to manufacture the inventory-tracking tags he invented), Versa-Tags continues to sharpen its competitive edge by investing in the latest technology. Periodically replacing and upgrading equipment, the Cuba, Mo.-based firm recently installed a new Fujifilm Sumo — its fourth imagesetter in less than 10 years.
However, according to Sales Manager Warren Pettigrew, the Sumo should be the last imagesetter Versa-Tags will ever have to buy. Unless, of course, as Pettigrew points out, business grows significantly and a bigger machine is needed. (Wishful thinking never hurts, he quips.)
The eight-up format Sumo uses Fujifilm’s patented acousto-optic deflector (AOD) technology, and offers speeds up to 58 flats per hour, with up to 3,657 dpi. While speed and format are important benefits, Pettigrew claims the Sumo’s easily-upgradable design is what impressed him the most.
"Over the years, we’ve used all kinds of imagesetting products. We made the decision to go with the Sumo because of the upgradability of the machine. We felt we could buy it today and it would be the only one we ever needed. The Sumo’s upgradability allows us to add more lasers, if and when needed, to increase our speed and quality."
However, speed is not currently an issue, Pettigrew maintains. A more obvious advantage of the Sumo is its ability to print film to the maximum size of the presses. "The quality of the film is another benefit," he adds. "In comparison to other films, it’s much better. Plus, with the Sumo, we’re able to use one film for multiple products."
Still another advantage of the Sumo, notes Pettigrew, is the machine’s connectivity with multiple types of RIP platforms. "That allowed us the opportunity to pick and choose the platform we wanted to run as a RIP."
The opportunity for technical support and service, from either Fujifilm or one of its authorized dealer/distributors, also weighed in favor of the Sumo, Pettigrew explains, observing a final factor in his buying decision: "We were able to negotiate long-term film and service contracts with Fuji, and that made the investment affordable."
Making the most of its technological investments, by partnering with manufacturers like Fujifilm, Versa-Tags has developed the business savvy it needs to grow. As Pettigrew cites, the company has come a long way since its basement inception in 1969, adding one piece of equipment at a time. Outgrowing its residential retreat and relocating to a nearby facility (in Springfield, Mass., in 1978), the company added flexo, screen and offset capabilities, before transplanting its operations to the Midwest in 1989.
In 1997, the firm (now owned by the founder’s daughter, Patricia Garden) added four-color commercial work to its expanding list of services. Printing such things as decals, outdoor signage, point-of-purchase and promotional material, and (of course!) a wide variety of plastic tags, the staff has grown from 11 (at the time of the Missouri move) to 80 employees at present.
On the move again in 2001, this time Versa-Tags expansion was technological, rather than physical. The July upgrade to the Fujifilm Sumo marks more than three decades of business success, in which Pettigrew concludes, the company has maintained its commitment to quality, service and dependability.
"We’ve never shipped a product late in 30 years," he states. "That’s our dedication; that’s our dependability. At Versa-Tags, our focus on is the customer—to ship on time, every time, as promised. Having great employees and leading technology helps us to accomplish that mission."
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