‘Last year’s investment was part of our ongoing drive for excellence and has allowed us to tackle almost any self-adhesive label work – including complex FMCG labels,’ confirms MD Elton Neethling.
He points out, however, that a press alone doesn’t create a quality product. ‘We also require strong knowledge and skills in the platemaking process; and it’s here that Africa Stereos, a leading platemaking and repro house, has succeeded time and again,’ says Elton.
In fact, this entire tenth anniversary story is considerably broader and deeper than simply buying a new press.
As the company celebrates this important date in its history, Elton and his team are increasingly turning their attention to developing people.
‘Last year we were machinery orientated; this year we’re concentrating on the driving force behind most great businesses – the people,’ Elton remarks. ‘We’ve always placed emphasis on training and motivation. This isn’t just a “bottom line” company – we also recognise our social responsibilities,’ he asserts.
As part of its ongoing aim to develop well-rounded individuals, equipped with excellent product knowledge plus life skills, Future Labels recently instituted an mentorship programme, called ‘Going from good to great’.
‘We’re looking to create a company that staff and customers are proud of; a company that everyone wants to be associated with,’ says Elton.
There’s a strong feeling that both staff and customers are highly valued and the focus at Future Labels is on ensuring that everybody is satisfied. ‘We’re intent on creating opportunities for those looking to add value and wanting to make a difference,’ Elton adds.
Another mark of continued growth is a planned internal reconstruction exercise, making use of existing internal space, for this blossoming business.
‘We’ve set our visions and goals for the next ten years,’ Elton explains. ‘We really know where we’re going, but being flexible at the same time – with short-, medium- and long-term plans set.’
Based on those plans, the business is now being structured to meet market requirements. ‘We’re not restricted in any way,’ Elton remarks. ‘If we find it necessary to invest in new equipment or skilled staff, then we’ll do so. We aim to provide whatever the market needs, not what we think the market wants.’
Another point of departure has been the supply of label applicators to customers. This is seen by Elton as a strong growth area for Future Labels – complementing the supply of top-class labels. ‘We installed our first applicator at Haygrove Heaven in Hermanus (the country’s largest exporter of raspberries); and many more installations are in the pipe line,’ he says. ‘Most importantly, we have a technician on standby to support customers whenever required,’ he adds.
Yet another recent highlight at Future Labels was attainment of GS1 accreditation, following an audit by the GS1 Partnership Program. According to Elton, achieving total barcode compliance is just one more manifestation of the company’s determination to be viewed as a prime provider of top-quality labels to the FMCG market.
GS1 South Africa’s mission is to lead the implementation of global standards to improve the local supply chain. Formerly known as EAN South Africa, GS1’s goal is to simplify global commerce by connecting the flow of information with the flow of goods.
Going hand-in-hand with this landmark GS1 accreditation, is a focus on labelling legislation. ‘We’re currently attending workshops on labelling legislation, in conjunction with Sage Marketing. Staff members are required to attend these workshops so that they understand the legality of information printed on labels,’ Elton comments. ‘Being able to advise a customer on legislation is just another aspect of our broad service offering.’
As part of this ongoing quest for professionalism and effectiveness, Future Labels invested in a comprehensive management information system, installing a locally-developed system from QuickEasy Software. ‘The system is a crucial management tool,’ Elton insists. ‘It allows us to build and maintain strong partnerships with our customers, especially making accurate assessments of each customer’s history – a key tool for managing repeat orders.’
All these varied developments underline one common goal – Future Labels’ vision of creating a business that incorporates strong values supported by a well-structured and secure environment, where customers’ expectations are met through the manufacture of high-quality products.