Employee Profiles Century Printing and Packaging Tim Hess

I am originally from Illinois and moved to Indiana, but have lived in the Upstate for 30 years. Before coming on board with Century Printing and Packaging I worked for a distribution company for 22 years, but they phased out their operations in South Carolina and that’s when I ended up here.

Tell us about yourself

I am single and my father recently passed away, but my mother still lives close by. Dad had cancer and they gave him six months to live and he lived another six years. I have two brothers and one sister, one brother and my sister live close by. I like to run and I’m into mountain biking. I play a lot of basketball and they call me “old man”. I like camping and anything outdoors. I used to like trail running but those days are gone (laughter).

How long have you been at Century and describe your role?

I’ve been here eight years and I started out as a delivery guy. Then they moved me into the press room and now I’m up front in the office. I order all the materials like papers, laminates, substrates, boxes and much more to keep the warehouse going. I am part of the ISO team and perform the audits and corrective actions. I like doing the ISO certification and duties.

What’s the ISO certification process like from your perspective?

They can be pretty strict and I have a limited role in it. However, I get to learn what everyone here does when I do an inside audit. You learn their process and what they do so it makes you appreciate the entire operation. You get to see the big picture of our company and it opens your eyes. It’s just not that simple. When I was hired I didn’t know anything about printing and packaging. I was a warehouse supervisor for 22 years so I had no experience. I’ve learned a good bit through the years and feel like I have a good handle and understanding of what we do.

What do you think are the strengths of Century Printing and Packaging?

I would say teamwork. Ben and Neil will do anything and they won’t ask you to do anything they aren’t willing to do themselves. It makes you feel better because in some companies the owners don’t get their hands dirty and spend more time telling people what to do. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Ben Waldrop take the trash out and simple acts like that just make you want to work harder. Both Ben and Neil reward hard work and I’ve been in companies where they don’t do that. It’s refreshing to see how they acknowledge the hard work I try to put into everything I do and others on the team.

How are the relationships with vendors in ordering materials?

They are pretty good, most of them are very honest with you and we’ve had problems with dates due to Covid and the supply/demand logistic issues. It’s not going to let up. We are still having to make a lot of changes to meet customer demands and expectations, but so far we have been able to do that without huge disruptions. So I work closely with production in terms of materials and the finishing department in terms of what we want to get out on a particular day.

You’ve been described as the “WD-40” guy at Century, so you are all over the place on any given day right?

I average about 16,000 steps per day between production, finishing, pre-production and the front office.

How do you think the company is viewed by vendors and customers?

Our vendors are very respective of what we do and circumstances even in times of material/shipping shortages or delays and Covid. Most of our vendors help us find alternative solutions to materials despite the global shortages. I’ve been over-ordering to compensate for the shortages and to get ahead of them for our customers. I’ve had to order for one of our customers and the materials are two weeks behind which puts production 6-8 weeks out. We’ve had several ship materials that are close to what they normally would get and we have to make sure those materials will work and we contact every customer to make sure they are okay with a substitution material that requires their approval before we go to production.

Given the extreme shortages and delays in manufacturing this year how have you dealt with suppliers and customers?

I got to Ben and Neil and we try to find an alternative supplier and material. If we can’t get what they want under normal conditions we tell them up front and we are honest about delays in material, or shipping. However, I have to say we’ve been really fortunate to find alternatives for our customers that work on the finished product. We’ve made the majority of our deadlines despite the global delays in product, shipping and logistic delays.

How do you deal with these challenges?

We had one customer where we couldn’t get their specific printed surface/material. The label wouldn’t stick to the box and we made it good with them. I was able to order a different material that sticks like glue and it’s working. We go out of our way to make it good for our customers.

Tim, describe the culture and dynamics of Century Printing and Packaging

When I first started the turnover was higher and we have made so many strides. They have invested in racks, shelving and turnover is no longer an issue. We have a team in place that is experienced and morale is good. We have a strong team in place. These guys reward hard work and they take notice of it compared to a lot of small companies that don’t reward or acknowledge extra effort. And with me personally, they have done that! I’ve had three major jobs in my whole life and these guys get it and take care of me and the rest of the team.

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.

Century Printing and Packaging, Inc.
Greer, SC 29651

Vendor Relationships Are Critical to Business

Businesses can’t do business without doing business! Let that one sink in for a moment. In order to produce your product or perform your services, you have to rely on multiple businesses, suppliers, and vendors to get the job done. Companies involved in manufacturing have to deal with a wide variety of vendors to make their products or goods. In today’s marketplace, the kind of relationship you have with your vendors is critical due to supply chain disruptions, logistics, and labor issues, not to mention the rate of inflation.

One of Century Printing and Packaging’s oldest vendors is Wilson Manufacturing. Wilson makes rotary tooling in hard, solid, and engraved dies, anvils, and print cylinders as well as flexible tooling (magnetic dies). Flexible tooling provided by Wilson is ideal for printing pressure-sensitive labels of different shapes and forms. We sat down with Kevin Harfst, Southeast Territory Sales Representative at Wilson to discuss their products, work, and relationship with Century.

Tell us about Wilson Manufacturing

Our start is similar to Century’s but we are a little older. We started in the mid-70s in a garage. Mr. Wilson had left a big company that made presses that did both printing and die-cutting. He saw the potential for more tooling and started his own company. Since those days we’ve grown into about a $20M company. Most of our growth has occurred in the last 20 years as we discovered some cutting-edge technology with machine sharpened tooling.

Why was that so important?

Once we were able to machine sharpen these dies that had historically been hand sharpened, which is exactly what it sounds like. Guys would sit around and look through a jeweler’s loop and have these dies that would sit on a jig in front of them and they sharpened the blades by hand using different types of scraping tools. Machine sharpening is much faster and the quality is second to none compared to hand sharpening.

Describe Wilson’s relationship with Century?

Century and Wilson have been working together for at least 20+ years. Over the years they have dealt with different people at Wilson and they have been there every step of the way as we have grown and watched them grow as well. I got involved with them about five years ago as I moved from our west coast territory to the southeast region where most of my family is located. They are definitely the gold standard for customers from the point of communicating, and understanding exactly what they need and their work. The needs we are able to service for them and what they come to us for we’re able to hit that on the head 100% virtually every time. We have bigger clients, but they have been so consistent from year to year and the growth they’ve had has definitely kept them in a higher customer weight class.

What do you think about Century entering its 25th year?

The growth of Century Printing and Packaging over the past 20 years is something that we have paid close attention to and they have certainly helped us grow as well. As they have embraced and invested in cutting-edge technology so have we. They were one of the first printing companies to start doing magnetic dies and cylinders. And just recently they are the first in the U.S. to invest in a brand new hybrid printing platform.

How did Covid affect your business?

We have not been as challenged to the extent that the printing companies and label companies have been securing materials with supply chain issues and material shortages. 80% of our steel is made in the U.S. so we have not had an issue getting our raw materials, but it’s only a matter of time as the inventory of steel in the United States is predicted to come down. Covid really affected us in a different way. Because many of our customers are in different parts of the country their businesses were closed at the height of the pandemic. Now everywhere is pretty open and going.

Describe your role at Wilson

Primarily sales, but I do more than quoting and order-taking because I have a technical background and I’ve been doing this since 1996. I like to get out and get into the companies that I call on to see their production and talk to their production team to go over various tricks of the trade that we can help them with to make their product run better and help their press operators feel more at ease. I also get involved with the crew that does the estimating and purchasing so they can use some of our benefits like our web services that can help them in ordering or getting information on a specific product.

What is a trend in your industry?

Adjustable anvils are big. It is tied in with the problems customers are having with getting their materials. All of these materials they run through their presses get die cut from the top, but these rolls of material go over what is called an anvil. You have a male-female setup in the die station with the die top-cutting and the anvil being the surface below that the die cuts against. What we’re seeing is that the materials have such a variation amongst the liners so by creating an adjustable anvil we can accommodate the variations in the different liners.

At Team Century you hear a lot about the importance of relationships with customers and vendors can you address that?

What Century is doing is custom printing and die-cutting. They aren’t servicing a blank label market, or a generic product where someone calls in and they have an inventory of what they need. It is total custom printing from the artwork down to the shapes they cut. By being able to build a customer-vendor relationship from the standpoint that Century and Wilson have it works out very well if you can trust each other. And know that each can take care of needs as they arise because every die that comes along on our end is different and a lot of the materials they may cut are different from time to time. They may have a dozen standard materials, but they branch into different laminates, varnishes, liners, and substrates. So having a proven relationship built on trust with someone you know is going to be able to deliver specifically what you need is critical. It’s a win-win!

Century Printing and Packaging is an ISO 9001:2015 certified company located in Greer, South Carolina. Flexographic, roll stock film, flexible packaging, digital printing, nutraceutical, food, and craft beer labels are among our extensive print products and technologies. We are family-owned and operated. Call us today about all of your printing or packaging needs. Our southeast location allows us to have a two-day shipping point via FedEx or UPS ground to 80% of the U.S population and we can expedite as necessary.

Ben Waldrop
Century Printing & Packaging
Greer, SC 29651