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Mail-Well Earns Quality Certification by Ross Products

Press release from the issuing company

ENGLEWOOD, Colo., March 24, 2004 — Mail-Well Inc., one of North America’s leading suppliers of visual communications, has enhanced its standing as a highly qualified vendor to the pharmaceutical/biotechnology industry by earning a rare quality certification and by taking part in one of the industry’s most important trade events. The IPC Mail-Well plant in Toledo, OH, has been designated an “RPD Certified Supplier” to the Ross Products Division of Abbott Laboratories, Columbus, OH, a global supplier of pediatric and adult nutritional products. IPC Mail-Well was the sole recipient of the certification last year and remains the only vendor whose materials Ross will accept and release into production without conducting industry standard testing procedures. The trade event was Interphex, a major exposition of technologies for pharmaceutical and biotechnology professionals that took place at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City from March 16-18. Interphex included PharmaDiscovery, a multi-track scientific conference. Mail-Well met this elite audience with an exhibit highlighting the capabilities that enabled it to capture $50 million worth of business last year from pharmaceutical companies and related firms. Gordon Griffiths, President of Mail-Well’s Commercial segment, said that the certification and the high-profile presence at Interphex showcase Mail-Well’s ability to meet the strictest quality requirements of the most demanding industries. IPC Mail-Well, a unit of the Commercial segment, earned the certification following an on-site inspection by Ross and an internal quality assurance audit of its own. The investigations showed that the plant, which prints labels for Ensure, Similac, and other well-known dietary supplements from Ross, consistently achieves a “Non Conforming Material Report” (NCMR) rate of less than one percent of all jobs received in one year – a performance that IPC Mail-Well has repeated every year since 1999. As a result, labels supplied by IPC Mail-Well can enter Ross’s packaging workflow without being subjected to the acceptance inspections that packaging materials from other suppliers have to undergo. Rick Delaney, senior account manager at IPC Mail-Well, says that the certification lets Ross treat the plant “virtually like their own manufacturing facility in their operation.” In notifying IPC Mail-Well of the certification, Thomas Lang, a senior project leader for Ross, congratulated the plant on conforming to the manufacturer’s rigorous standards of quality. “Our customers have come to expect the best when they purchase our products, so we do not take certification lightly,” Lang said. “This partnership demonstrates our confidence in your ability to provide a quality product consistently and on time.” As a label supplier for Ross’s international markets, IPC Mail-Well prints about 500 different kinds and sizes of paper labels for packaged products that Ross distributes in 130 countries around the world. According to Delaney, Ross’s NCMR inspection procedures zero in on factors such as specification content, variations or errors in color, high-speed UPC readability, and potential problems with adhesion or run-ability in the packaging production line. Adding to the challenge of meeting the benchmarks of a customer like Ross is the company’s extraordinary emphasis on cleanliness and sanitation – a mandate, Delaney says, that causes it to operate in an environment that resembles “almost clean-room facilities” and even extends to the condition of the pallets in which packaging materials are shipped to Ross’s manufacturing centers. The extreme degree of cooperation is one outcome of IPC Mail-Well’s long relationship with Ross, which has been purchasing labels from the plant for 10 years and conducts regular quality audits of its facilities. A three-week self-audit process aimed at making sure that all of Ross’s check points would be met preceded the inspection that led to the certification, Delaney says. The result was satisfaction from the start of the eight-hour examination to the finish. “They knew that our procedures were so intact that they wouldn’t have to go through the facility writing corrective procedures, because our processes are so tight,” Delaney says. Not just Ross, but all of IPC Mail-Well’s customers benefit from the zero-defects attitude prevailing in the plant, which has held ISO 9001 certification for compliance with quality manufacturing standards for the last five years. According to Delaney, the work leading to the unique certification from Ross is valuable because “it has enabled us to parlay those disciplines into our day-to-day operations with our other customers.” For example, the plant has been able to adapt a numeric color-coding strategy developed for Ross labels to the production and distribution management of non-related manufacturing. IPC Mail-Well will continue to apply what it has learned to improve the customer experience for everyone with whom it does business. “We have accomplished something of merit here that should be cascading from top to bottom for all of our customers,” Delaney says. Mail-Well’s merits were on full display in booth #378 in the Packaging Pavilion at the Interphex trade show, at which a record number of exhibitors greeted attendees from over 40 countries and from 40 of the 50 states. “We had quite a presence,” says Skip Bray, Vice President-Sales and Marketing of Mail-Well’s French-Bray unit in Glen Burnie, MD, which specializes in patient-information inserts and related materials. “We highlighted our experience as a provider of total solutions to the pharmaceutical industry, particularly our ability to assure these customers of obtaining all that they need from one source.” Coordinating the exhibit for Mail-Well was Murry Unell, Marketing Communications Manager of the Commercial segment. He says that visitors to the Mail-Well booth learned how Mail-Well can deliver a “huge variety” of printed products – “everything from a tiny label on a tube of salve to a gorgeous annual report.” Mail-Well’s first-time participation in Interphex was a part of a campaign to promote the full spectrum of its capabilities to pharmaceutical customers. Bray says that the company is assembling a team of experts in sales and manufacturing from across the Commercial segment to develop strategies for further penetration of this high-priority market.