According to MD, Elton Neethling, many label printers in the narrow-web self-adhesive sector aim at the upper end of the market, but often the needs of industrial customers are overlooked. And this is the segment where Future Labels has taken a strong stance. ‘We take care of those customers, as well as those requiring shorter runs,’ Elton says.
Clearly the policy has paid dividends. Just one mark of Future Labels’ success was a move in April 2009 to its own new premises in Montague Gardens; and another hallmark is ongoing investment in technology.
Despite current economic woes, Future Labels has steadily invested in new kit. ‘We believe in enhancing our business opportunities by having the right equipment to manage the quality printing and finishing required by our customers,’ Elton comments. ‘And we’re laying strong foundations to be ready for the expected upturn in the economy,’ he adds.
A tour of the premises shows what he means.
Back in 2001, the company’s first press was a refurbished Mark Andy but in 2004 a new four-colour Mark Andy 830 press was added to the line-up. Today the company offers top-class flexo printing in up to four colours, complemented by Rotoflex die-cutter, slitter, rewinder, inspection units to ensure that only top-quality labels are rewound for delivery to customers.
And now comes the really exciting news – the company has placed an order for a brand-new press that will catapult Future Labels into the big league. But that’s all that’s being revealed right now.
Accent on quality
Apart from offering high-quality self-adhesive labels, printed in up to four colours, Future Labels fills a gap in the run-of-the-mill label market, supplying blank labels (both thermal and non-thermal), as well as all types of barcode labels, laser sheet labels, continuous computer labels and consecutively-numbered labels. In fact, as Elton puts it, ‘no job is too big or too small’.
‘We provide quality and affordable prices with the fastest possible service,’ he comments. ‘We specialise in accommodating large or small runs to suit our customers’ varied specifications.’
Since the company’s inception, the vision has been the creation of a business that incorporates high values supported by a well-structured and secure environment, with customers’ expectations met through the manufacture of high-quality products.
Although it’s not a huge company, Future Labels places strong emphasis on staff training, another fact that underscores its professionalism and quality ethic.
It’s also this quest for quality that led to investment in a comprehensive management information system (MIS). Having initially investigated European systems, Future Labels decided to install a locally-developed system from QuickEasy Software. ‘In fact, we were among the early label printers to sign up with QuickEasy,’ Elton relates. ‘In some ways, we acted as guinea pigs over the two years it took to implement the system!’
Now Future Labels has rolled out the MIS company-wide (with the exception of the accounting function). ‘Yes, it was a challenging process, but well worthwhile,’ Elton adds.
QuickEasy Software is a young South African company, fast gaining market share with its integrated system, designed specifically for the print and packaging industry.
‘We have built a solid customer base across South Africa over the last ten years with our dynamic print resource management and estimating software package, going up against some of the world’s top names,’ reports Jody Segers, the company’s national manager. ‘Although we already had numerous installations in the litho field, label printing was a relatively new area for us, and we’ve learnt a lot from Future Labels,’ Jody adds.
‘A system like this is a crucial management tool leading to good corporate governance,’ Elton insists. ‘But it also allows us to build strong partnerships with our customers, especially as it allows us to make accurate assessments of each customer’s history – a key tool for managing repeat orders.’
With this accent on quality and cost-saving, it’s not surprising to learn that Future Labels is joining the GS1 Partnership Programme for total barcode compliance, and is considering embarking on the ISO quality route. ‘In fact,’ says Elton, ‘all our procedures are oriented in that direction, so it would be a logical step for us to take.’
Another strong move is the building of a dedicated sales team. In addition to its ongoing brokering business, Future Labels increasingly handles direct sales to customers, which include leading chain stores, courier companies, the agricultural market, and FMCG companies.
With nation-wide distribution and nine years’ successful operation under his belt, what does Elton see for the future? ‘Our mission is to build partnerships, ensuring quality products at competitive prices, supported by fast, efficient service,’ Elton answers. ‘Our production and sales staff are committed and trained to ensure excellent service and top-quality business solutions. We’re determined to be the best label manufacturing company,’ he concludes.
No doubt PACKAGiNG & PRINT MEDIA will be reporting further successes and developments as the company marches forward with confidence. Indeed, watch this space for more news in a couple of months’ time when the new press is installed!
Label Traxx links prepress with digital press
LABEL TRAXX – the popular print business management software for narrow-web label printers and converters – has partnered with EskoArtwork to provide an integrated and seamless interface between prepress operations and presses, including digital presses such as the HP Indigo series.
The co-operation, which provides print-ready files to the press via a JDF connection, was demonstrated on the HP stand at Labelexpo in Brussels in September.
Now available in Label Traxx Version 5.5, the linkage eliminates rekeying of important information and provides prepress personnel and customer service representatives with immediate status updates when files are received, when the proof is ready, when it’s approved, and when files have been successfully transmitted to the press.
Label Traxx users who have implemented the popular eTraxx module can permit customers to see status updates and view artwork for approval.