VALDESE, N.C. - Valdese Packaging & Label, Inc. in Valdese, N.C., has achieved steady annual growth thanks to a laserlike focus on retail packaging and textiles. In the past two years, the printer has judiciously expanded the capabilities of the business. Approximately $3.5 million has been invested in upgrading Valdese Packaging's production machinery, including folder-gluers, two Bobst die cutters and a Mitsubishi Diamond 3000LX with aqueous coater.
The six-color, 40-inch Diamond 3000LX represents the third Mitsubishi press purchase for Valdese Packaging, a longtime user of half-size sheeted presses. It replaced a 10-year-old, 28-inch 1F-15 that had logged several hundred million impressions.
"The 1F-15 was like a great, reliable used car with a lot of miles on it," said Darren Little, president and CEO.
A six-color, 28-inch Diamond 1000LS installed in 2005 still runs around the clock every day, according to Little.
"When we decided to buy a new press, we compared the four major press manufacturers," Little said. "Based on the value and support we have received from Mitsubishi, it was a no-brainer. On the rare occasions when we needed a replacement part for the existing presses or experienced any unscheduled downtime, Mitsubishi has always resolved the issue immediately."
Established in 1993, Valdese Packaging utilizes sheetfed and narrow-web flexographic presses to manufacture packaging, tags, wraps, pressure-sensitive labels and consumer boxes primarily for the retail apparel industry. The company not only has evolved from a small, family-run startup to a 75-employee, full-service operation in 18 years, but it also is on track to record its best year ever in 2011.
"We have worked hard for our success," Little said. "We operate some of the best equipment you can own today. The people running that equipment are as skilled and talented as you'll find anywhere in the industry. With the technological innovations, our speed and efficiency are five-fold what they were as recently as five years ago."
A global concern, Valdese Packaging ships printed materials to clients located in upwards of 20 countries.
"Eighty percent of textile manufacturing has migrated outside the United States in the past 10 years," Little pointed out. "Part of our main business plan involves dealing directly with retailers like Walmart, Kohls and Sears, and partnering with manufacturers overseas, whether in Honduras or Bangladesh or China. We have earned their trust and remained competitively priced. We print the packaging here in Valdese, and it can go pretty much anywhere on the planet via ship or air freight in five to seven days. The shipping rate for air freight is cheaper than hiring a tractor-trailer from North Carolina to Los Angeles."
Valdese Packaging prints everything from onion skin to 40-point board on the Diamond 3000LX. In operation for about five months, the press features high-speed plate changing, advanced electronics on the control console and connectivity to digital prepress.
"We always try to match our press purchases with our equipment needs," Little said. "We stayed in the 28-inch market while we built up to computer-to-plate and die cutting equipment that could accommodate both the 28-inch and 40-inch sizes. We successfully competed for a long time with companies that operate 40-inch and bigger presses. There continues to be a market for 28-inch work, although it was time to purchase a 40-inch press. Looking back, I'll probably wonder why we didn't do it sooner."
Little estimates that sales for 2011 could reach $15 million. While textile-related printing accounts for 85 percent of revenues, Valdese Packaging sees a new round of growth in diversification into other packaging segments.
"The Diamond 3000LX produces high-quality printing on plastics, foil and specialty substrates," Little noted. "It's efficient on shorter runs and able to tackle larger jobs faster. That will create opportunities to print consumer packaging for the food and health industries. We can print 500 pieces or 10 million pieces."