Inflation Is Hitting Every Manufacturing Sector

Everyone is feeling the pain of inflation from rising prices in goods, materials, chemicals, fuel, and supplies. Whether you serve B2B/B2C every sector is experiencing the avalanche from inflation, supply chain disruptions, Covid19, labor shortages, and a lack of available materials. A trip to the grocery store with empty shelves or purchase limits on certain products is proof enough. It is cliche, but all of these factors have produced the “perfect storm”.

Manufacturers are scrambling to find new supply lines and vendors. Shortages from food, chemicals, lumber, metals, microchips, rubber goods, paper, laminates, and countless other goods have moved businesses from a competitive price focus to sheer availability. Shortages and availability only tighten the vise grip of competing manufacturers. Auto manufacturers are now competing with consumer electronics for computer chips. Before the storm, each had different suppliers and there was no shortage. During the storm, you may produce cars, but your computer or television producer has landed in your backyard competing for the same chips.

The printing and packaging industry is not immune to this economic reality. The supply chain gridlock and inflationary pressures have created a challenging environment for the industry. Previously fully stocked vendor’s distribution centers of paper, ink, boxes, laminate, substrate materials, and film are running empty. Lead times of these materials have drastically expanded. Shipping costs due to rising fuel prices and container shortages have only added to the inflationary pressures. These dynamics are unique because the combination of factors has impacted every aspect of business regardless of category. In the past, Wall Street cycles have come and gone, but typically it’s been one industry or just a few that have experienced serious disruption and challenges. Today, EVERY industry and business is affected by these colliding factors.

The interdependency within the global economy can best be explained by dominoes falling one over the other throughout a massive display. Everything relates to the other. Loaded ships sit in harbors and can’t get unloaded, a pandemic wiped out 700,000 people in the U.S. alone to date. Many of those were workers and paying taxes. The printing and packaging industry is experiencing supply and material increases between 7-12%, if not more. Polypropylene resin has increased 150% since January of 2020, and PET resin has risen over 20% in the same period (CDI October 2021 Report). Some Industry experts are projecting continued shortages of raw material and polymers to last through Q4 2022.

No reputable and successful business enjoys price increases. Their success is built upon providing a high-quality product/service at a competitive price backed with extraordinary customer service. These companies thrive on long-term customer relationships by exceeding customer expectations. However, there is a point at which even the strongest cannot resist anymore because they start losing money.

Craig Austin writing for PBS said: “Economists surveyed by Bloomberg in October expect inflation to slow to 3.4% next summer and hit 2.6% by the end of the year. While that would be encouraging, it’s still well above the pre-pandemic average of 1.8% and outside the Fed’s target. It’s unclear whether economists are recalibrating their expectations after the October Consumer Price Index report. Regardless, consumers should get used to the higher prices. They’re the new normal.”

Smart companies and businesses are concentrating on minimizing price increases while extending their vendor partnerships to have access to the materials and supplies they need to do their jobs. Increased costs are inevitable given the global market, but smart and reputable suppliers and manufacturers are working with their clients and suppliers to keep prices as low as they can. Material and supply shortages can be expected well into 2022. Plan way ahead to get ahead of this troubling trend. Hopefully, supply, logistics, and labor will self-correct in 2022.

At Century Printing and Packaging we have worked internally to increase efficiency and deliver the same high level of quality that helped us earn our customer’s trust during these challenging days. This combination has allowed us to only raise prices on products once this year. We are well aware of the market fluctuations and we are working with our customers and suppliers to provide solutions despite price increases to supply and rising material costs. We have been printing labels that stick, but have great eye appeal and consistently tell your brand story. We don’t mind tackling a challenging problem if it means we can help you produce something that is more appealing and of higher quality. We have produced labels and packaging for almost 25 years, so trust us to work with you as a partner instead of a job number.

Ben Waldrop, President
Century Printing & Packaging
Greer, SC 29651
Tel: 800.344.7509

Century Printing and Packaging Team Member Profile

Mike Martin has been the V.P of Sales at Century Printing and Packaging for five years. He has spent the bulk of his career working in packaging sales, including custom-printed film. He joined the Century team to help expand the film presence.

Mike, tell us about your background?

I’m a Greenville native and graduate of J.L. Mann High School. I completed my undergraduate degree in accounting and finance at the University of South Carolina. I have a wife and one son, who’s 15, and a large extended family.

How did you end up at Century Printing and Packaging?

Years ago I started in the industry with a great company that was a broad line packaging distributor. At that time I had a relationship with Century Printing, with them serving as a vendor in their start-up years. I moved on to work for a film printing company based in Mexico, and there gained some depth in the rollstock film market. Later, we moved to France for a few years with my wife’s work and when I returned, my plan was to scale back up with the Mexican plant. At that time I had the good fortune to run into Don Waldrop of Century Printing and Packaging, we had had a great relationship. I learned CPP had grown up to have four presses (now five) and was interested in expanding its presence in the film market. Things fell into place from there!

What do you do at Century?

I focus on sales, marketing, and customer relations. I target prospects that would be a good fit for our capabilities, manage the process of bringing on new items we print, then manage the ongoing customer relationships. I’ve built a nice base of customers, some of whom were very small accounts when they started. As these customers have grown we’ve been fortunate to do more business with them, and it’s fairly common for our customers to refer us to companies they do business with.

How is the work?

It’s a relationship business. We make a product that’s needed and provide guidance on materials that are appropriate, but in the end, people at other businesses build confidence in the team at CPP. They rely on us as a small, but critical piece of their supply chain. Our markets are diversified, ranging from food, beverage, chemical, healthcare, newspaper, etc. In the end, our customers rely on us for something to complete their products so that they can ship to their customers. It’s a trust we take seriously!

What is involved in your role?

There is a lot of travel with trade shows, visiting prospects, customers, and vendors. When it’s time to onboard a new customer, I bring in graphics, materials, and scheduling staff to make things happen. We have a robust system with checks and balances to ensure that what is supposed to happen, does happen, in the time expected.

The process goes amazingly smooth and quick. We typically offer pricing within 24 hours once we nail down all the variables needed to define the application. We issue art proofs within 24 hours of receiving art files. That’s a quick turnaround in the industry, it’s a competitive advantage, and it’s due to proprietary IT and process flow systems we’ve developed over the years, and equally to our team of dedicated staff.

Mike, what do you enjoy about working at Century Printing and Packaging?

I love the attitude that our customers, no matter their size, are basically people who depend on us so that they can sell and deliver their products. Even our smallest of customers are treated with the respect that they cannot ship their products until the label is right and in their hands. I also enjoy the diversity of industries we serve, and when we are helping a start-up company as they address all sorts of issues faced with new and growing businesses.

Over time the business relationships become more rewarding on a personal level. The motivation becomes less that we need to sell our product and service, and more that we need to help our customers complete their supply chain.

Tell us about yourself and what you do when you are off the clock

I’m married and have one son. We have a cabin at a nearby mountain lake and we love spending time there. We enjoy hiking, biking, swimming, and a little pickleball. Spending time with our family and friends, finding day-trip adventures, meeting new people, and providing service to others…that sums it up!

At Century Printing and Packaging we have a long line of tenured employees who make up our team. We are proud of their work, spirit, and the contribution they make to our quality of work and production. All of them work hard to fulfill customers’ orders and produce high-quality work.

Finish Matters in Product Presentation

One of the most important considerations for product labeling is the finish. There are many options within the printing process that need to be considered for your product or brand. Product label finishes depend on the target audience. Is your product B2B or B2C? Is it within a highly competitive retail or wholesale market? Is it a “tried and true” iconic brand, or is it a new product launch? All of these are important considerations when it comes to settling on a label finish for the product.

The two dominant finishes are matte and glossy. One is shiny, vibrant and the other is muted. Both of them provide value depending upon the specific product label, market, and target audience. However, you can add varnishes to each finish to get a very distinct look. Retail shelf appeal is so important today. Your product may be getting lost in the eye-candy game simply because of the finish of your label. If you have a new product for the market the finish selection is critical so your product will stand out against the competition at retail locations.

The material printers use (film/paper) can be semi-gloss, high gloss, or matte, but varnishes can add a distinctive look and set your product apart from the competition. Depending on the product category you will want to make sure you have the right “look and feel” for your product. Glossy is vibrant, but if the competition is all glossy you could choose a matte finish to stand out from the crowd. Let’s face it, standing out from the competition is paramount in reaching consumers in today’s market.

Reputable printers and packaging companies want to provide exactly what their customers want, but they are also subject matter experts in printing, finishes, and the look and feel of specific products. Relying on your printer’s input is invaluable. And don’t overlook the advantage of test runs to consider a variety of finish options for your product. This is an area where you want to get it right the first time and if that means running test options ahead of your final decision you are making the right call. These professional printers want to exceed customer expectations, but in order to do so, they need to explore options for each customer.

Your printer can add a varnish or laminate to the surface to change the look, feel, and texture of the product. In several product categories the competition is all glossy and having a matte finish makes the product stand out on the shelf.

Retro finishes are having a lot of success in the marketplace. Why? Because they stand out from the crowd. It’s a different look and feel. In competitive markets, many customers go for a glossy look. With varnishes, you can mix and match. You can have a part gloss and part matte finish using two different types of varnish. You can’t do this with a laminate finish because it has to cover the entire label surface.

Choosing a finish for your product label and packaging is incredibly important in today’s competitive marketplace. Your printing vendor should be more than able and willing to provide a variety of options. Focus groups are a great way to gain insight into product finishes in terms of look, feel, and attraction. Over the years many great products have died an early death due to finish failure and a lack of shelf appeal to the consumer. Having multiple options through test runs is a great way to gain insight into potential consumer reactions to a new product. If the competition is going all glossy in their finishes, consider a very distinct matte finish to pop your product on the shelf.

For example, today’s craft beer market is incredibly competitive. Being seen from the variety of choices available has never been greater. Having high-performing packaging and labels is critical to retail appeal. There is a greater appeal today for matte finishes versus gloss but it depends on the product market and the competition.

If you are shopping or looking for a printer ask them to provide examples in similar product categories of their work. Spend the time in graphic design and artwork to explore multiple options. Get feedback from focal groups, your team, and as many people as possible before you make a final decision. Listen to your printing and packaging company! They have years of experience in producing labels, finishes, and packaging. You are the subject matter expert of your specific product, but they are subject matter experts in the final finish of your product label and packaging. The bottom line in your final retail or wholesale product presentation is that your finish matters!

At Century Printing & Packaging we have been printing labels that stick, but have great eye appeal and consistently tell your brand story. We don’t mind tackling a challenging problem if it means we can help you produce something that is more appealing and of higher quality. We have produced labels and packaging for 25 years, so trust us to work with you as a partner instead of a job number.

Ben Waldrop, President
Century Printing & Packaging
Greer, SC
Tel: 800.344.7509

Century Printing & Packaging Team Members: Madison DeShields

Recently, we sat down with Madison DeShields in the Production Department of Century Printing and Packaging to discuss her role and work.

So Madison, tell us about yourself?

I’m originally from Woodruff, South Carolina and I started working here when I was 20 years old and it will be five years this month. I had some experience with screen printing in high school and experience in printing but nothing like at this level.

How did you find the job and where did you begin at Century Printing and Packaging?

I actually found the job on Indeed. I started in the back with entry level duties folding paper and putting it in boxes for shipping. Then I started doing different printing in the plate room, rewinding and I’ve done a lot of different things.

How did that prepare you for what you are doing now?

It helps me understand printing to know what they are doing in finishing. There are things I know now in how to help them back there.

What is your current role and what do you do?

Right now I’m a press operator and I’m on the digital press and bounce around wherever I’m needed. I fill in for people on breaks and run their press for them. Mount plates and do whatever is needed. If someone calls out I can fill wherever I’m needed.

What do you like about your job?

I like the communication between everyone and how we always work as a team together. We have a high level of communication and we are cross-trained on multiple presses or machines to be able to fill in the gaps when someone is out sick, or can’t be there. We don’t miss a beat and cover well for one another.

What have you noticed about the growth of the company in the five years you have been here?

I’ve seen so many different jobs that keep coming up. It’s such a wide variety. Some of the artwork is really cool like the beer labels and other stuff. It keeps everything interesting.

What’s a typical day like for you?

When I started this morning I had some @CityRoots labels to run picking up from yesterday on the digital press. They are a family-owned, urban, organic farm that specializes in year-round microgreen production based out of Columbia, South Carolina. Then I fill in for someone and when they get back I will fill in for someone else so I will be bouncing back and forth between printers and jobs. It makes the day fly by and I like it because I’m always busy and not standing in the same spot all day.

What do you like about your company?

They are just really nice people. They are understanding and have taught me everything I know about printing. All around good people!

What have you learned?

Coming from high school it’s a completely different level of printing. I’ve learned so much. I take notes on everything I’ve learned and have notebooks on everything. It’s a lot to take in but I just keep learning every day. I’ve always loved graphic design since tech school and I’ve loved the artwork and the process.

Tell us what you like to do in your free time?

I like outdoors stuff like tubing, kayaking, hiking and those kinds of things. I have two cats and live in Spartanburg so I’m relatively close to the shop. My family is from Woodruff and I’m close to them. I am the youngest of three with an older brother and sister.

At Century Printing and Packaging we have a long line of tenured employees who make up our team. We are proud of their work, spirit, and the contribution they make to our quality of work and production. All of them work hard to fulfill customers’ orders and produce high-quality work.

Connie Vincent, V.P. of Operations at CP&P

Tell us how long you’ve been with Century and your background

I’ve been with Century for seven years and working in the print industry for over 30 years. I had been working for another company and they downsized so I was looking for a position when I interviewed here. Initially, I was producing artwork and had a lot of experience working with color so flexo was ideal for me.

When I started I already had an understanding about different substrates, white inks, adjusting color for flexographic printing and things like that. Getting involved in artwork helped expand my skill set. Previously we had to manually enter job numbers, ink and other materials but software and automation have enabled us to focus on the artwork.

Describe your role at Century Printing and Packaging

I supervise the pre-press department and I initially work with the sales staff to preflight the art and help determine colors and any special concerns in printing and what we can do to maintain the aesthetics whether it is digital or flexo printing.

What’s your favorite part of relating to clients/customers?

I deal with the clients and their artists. Just being able to take their vision and reproduce it in flexo, which isn’t always very forgiving is rewarding. I often ask, “how will this go or look?” Then I huddle with Neil and Roger to see how we can help the customer. We come up with stuff that clients are not taking advantage of like silver substrates and more, or we’ve inverted the white ink and the client was thrilled. Exceeding customer expectations is really important and so professionally satisfying.

What do you still get excited about in your job?

I get a thrill any time I walk into a store and see packaging or printing that I had a hand in producing. Back in the day changes were crazy. Before everything went to the computer, we manually worked the camera, trapping and setting up the file for plating, etc. When using film we moved to less manual input and today it’s nice and neat. Technology has increased the rate of production and things that took ½ day we can now do in 10 minutes. It used to take us a long time to do one thing or concept, but now we can move faster and eliminate errors on the fly.

What do you like about Century Printing and Packaging?

It’s a family-owned business and that family-style transcends down to all employees. We get to know each other and know our strengths and weaknesses. The last seven years it’s evolved into a team atmosphere. It’s more than a place to work and the culture of “that’s not my job” has shifted and evolved into, “how can I help you and what can I do to make this better.” When you’ve got a label that works really well from start to finish everyone has a sense of pride in the production of it, so team pride is a big thing here.

Tell us about yourself, Connie?

I am Spartanburg born and raised. I’ve been married for eight years with three children and five grandchildren. My grandmother had a tradition of cooking Sunday dinner for the entire family and I grew up doing that so when her health began to fail we ended up serving at my house and I lost my Mom and grandmother, but we’ve kept the tradition going.

How did Covid affect your work?

It changed the dynamics of our work. Newspapers had lots of cancellations all in advance. We responded really quickly to adjust with masks, safe distancing, PPE, etc. We noticed what we are printing is changing with lots of labels for industrial, chemical, food and beverage like craft beer labels. Our labels are getting more sophisticated with performing and a more pronounced look and feel.

What have you learned in your tenure?

Well, grocery stores were one of the first jobs and I was fascinated by the labeling and how certain things sold better than others and how the value of packaging, aesthetics and appearance have evolved to impact branding and target audiences.

What do you do in your downtime?

I am an avid reader and an attempted novelist with a passion for Southern fiction.

At Century Printing and Packaging we have a long line of tenured employees who make up our team. We are proud of their work, spirit, and the contribution they make to our quality of work and production. All of them work hard to fulfill customers’ orders and produce high-quality work.

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