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