Color consistency, quality, and unique technology will fuel growth
- Koenig & Bauer Rapida 105 PRO will produce more than three existing presses
- Manufacturing capabilities, technology, automation, and customer support led to Koenig & Bauer
- Plans to expand in current and new markets
When a customer lifts a cold craft beer to their lips or dips a brush into a can of paint, the product’s label probably made a difference in choosing that particular brand. There’s no denying how important labeling is to product packaging. It helps to evoke certain consumer behavior and entices a shopper to choose a certain brand and make a purchase. No one recognizes this more than Oak Printing, a nearly 100-year-old leading manufacturer of paper labels. Its customers, including some of the leading names in the paint, craft beer, and other markets, demand high quality, color consistency, and fast throughput to ensure that their products will be noticed by consumers and are brought to market in a timely manner.
To continue to answer this mandate, Oak took delivery this fall of a new Koenig & Bauer Rapida 105 PRO 41-inch eight-color press at its 55,000 sq ft facility in Strongsville, OH, just south of Cleveland. With this massive investment, Oak Printing is signaling to its clients that it is serious about adding the highest degree of technology all in an effort to benefit its customers. Extra capacity plus new technology equals massive opportunity for Oak Printing.
“We produce labels for well-known brands in the country as well as some specialized start-ups,” says Michael Kisha, Oak’s vice president of manufacturing. “Our labels can be found on millions of paint cans from leading manufacturers as well as some of the country’s most popular breweries. What differentiates Oak Printing from our competitors is our willingness to go the extra mile for them. What do I mean by that? Take a craft beer manufacturer; they order from us very creative labels expressing their niche beer and expect their labels to communicate its uniqueness and be available when their beer is ready to be bottled. We have to be ready to do whatever it takes to assure they get their beer out to consumers on time. Our motto is to always serve the customer.”
With older non- Koenig & Bauer offset presses on its production floor, Oak was seeking to capitalize on the latest unique automated technology in the market. After spending a year and a half researching presses—both used and new---and logging nearly 25,000 air miles for various demos and meetings, Kisha made the critical decision to partner with KBA. “After all,” he says, “this is a key investment for our company and for our customers.”
The Rapida 105 PRO being installed at Oak Printing is equipped with a host of unique automated Koenig & Bauer technology that can handle a variety of substrates. Oak primarily uses C1S (Coated One Side) sheets up to 60-70 lbs for its paint can labels and WS material as light as 40 lbs for its craft beer customers.
What drove his decision to choose Koenig & Bauer? There were many factors, says Kisha, both large and small. Most significantly, Oak will be able to double its capacity with the speed and automation of the new Koenig & Bauer Rapida 105 PRO and continue to grow, possibly to move into new markets. Another consideration was the trusted relationship between KBA North America and Oak Printing. “The sales team was first class,” says Kisha. “They were very professional, responded with urgency to all of our requests, but at the same time did not provide a high pressured sale. Plus, we were impressed with the entire Koenig & Bauer business model: the unique way it manufactures its presses, the firm’s expert service and tech team, as well as the follow-up support. I watched a training session and was impressed with its one-on-one attention to detail.
“What really excited our entire team including our press operators is the integrated quality control camera feature on press. This automated system lends itself to getting up to color faster and maintaining color consistency all across the sheet. That’s very important to our customers, many of whom are in the color business. All of our labels have to be consistent across a home center store shelf, grocery aisle, or bar.”
In the meantime, Oak will be running the new Koenig & Bauer press as its key workhorse press. “Our labels need to capture a consumer’s attention,” says Kisha. “Designers, especially for the craft brews, are incorporating unusual and surprising designs and images, contrasting colors, decorative and inventive artwork. This new Koenig & Bauer press will enable us to produce those labels faster, more efficiently, and more productively. It’s an exciting time to work at Oak Printing.”
The Oak Printing Company was established in 1922 by Ted Helms in Cleveland, OH. Its first customer was a local paint manufacturer, The Glidden Company. Along with stationary, business cards and other general commercial printing, Oak began printing labels for them and other local businesses. Over the years, the firm has stayed independent and privately owned by the Helms family. In 1955, Ted appointed his son, Don, as president. Don, his brother Bill, and Bill’s three sons continued to develop the business into one of the country’s premier label producers and distributors. Bill Helms took over for Don upon his retirement in 1996. His son, Jim, was promoted to president in 2001. As Oak Printing continued to grow, it increased its services to a variety of label users, while continuing to provide innovative ideas and solutions to its core customers: the paint, and beverage industries. Other markets served include the food and consumer products industries. Today the firm and its talented craftsmen are employed in a modern 55,000 sq ft facility, strategically located in Strongsville, Ohio (a Cleveland suburb).
Left to right: Michael Kisha, Oak Vice-President of Manufacturing; Jim Helms, Oak President; and Mike Pierce, Oak CFO; plan to expand capacity with their new Koenig & Bauer Rapida 105 PRO eight-color press.