Adapting to the Shift: How Craft Beer Brands are Embracing the Can

The beer industry has seen a significant shift in the past few years when it comes to packaging. As the demand for craft beer continues to rise, so does the need for creative and eye-catching labels that distinguish one brand from the next. Century Printing & Packaging has been keeping an eye on emerging beer label trends and is excited to share its insights into the evolution of craft beer packaging.

There has been an evolution in the way craft beer is packaged and labeled, with the transition from glass bottles to cans becoming increasingly accepted. This change has had a huge impact on beer merchants with whom Century Printing & Packaging has maintained long-standing commitments to serve and champion.

One major factor that has affected the beer industry is the shortage of glass. Coming out of the pandemic, supply chain issues have resulted in many beer brands opting to purchase unprinted cans and add their own labels as needed. This not only offers more flexibility in terms of branding and design, but it also allows breweries to save money by only ordering the exact amount of cans they need at any given time.

Ben and Neil, two veterans in the beer labeling business, have witnessed first-hand the change in the craft beer market over the last ten years. From its beginnings as a niche hobbyist business to its current status as a crowded, mature industry. Traditionally, canned beer has been viewed as lower quality. However, this perception has changed in recent years, thanks in large part to big-name brands now selling their beers in cans. This shift has made it more acceptable, leading to a surge in the popularity of canned beer.

Breweries have embraced cans for their numerous advantages, such as increased portability, durability, and recyclability. Additionally, cans are known for their ability to preserve beer’s quality and taste, making them an attractive choice.

Century Printing & Packaging will be at the 2023 Craft Brewers Conference in Nashville this May 7th-10th, to showcase their commitment to the latest packaging trends. In Booth #1754 a variety of materials and how they look on cans will be on display. Century Printing empowers its clients to stay innovative and emphasizes the importance of packaging in a crowded market. As consumers continue to embrace the movement in the industry, CP&P is passionate about staying ahead of the curve and helping their clients meet the changing demands of the market.

Fortunately, many breweries have risen to the challenge. CP&P partners with breweries all over the US to produce eye-catching designs that stand out on store shelves. Ben and Neil work closely with their clients to ensure their can designs are both functional and visually appealing.

Overall, the rise of canned beer represents an exciting time in the beer world. As more and more breweries turn to cans as their packaging of choice, it will be interesting to see how this trend continues to shape the craft beer market in the years to come. The team at CP&P anticipates that cans will become even more prevalent. Breweries that haven’t already made the switch may find it necessary to stay competitive. With Ben and Neil’s 10+ years of expertise in beer packaging, they are confident they can help breweries make a smooth transition to cans.

Flexo Plate Services

Over time the nature of flexographic printing has become a more refined and precise method of rubber stamping. As it’s evolved, it’s become widely popular in the consumer product and the printing and packaging industries.

Typically, flexographic printing involves a polymer image carrier that is engraved to create the design for the label. These image carriers can include, cylinders, sleeves, and plates to achieve the desired look. The beauty of this type of printing is that it allows for a continuous process with high speeds and maintained accuracy.

However, as the demand for rendering high-resolution images for specific labels has grown, Digital printing has become a great option for smaller-volume jobs that are not required to be repeated over and over again. Currently, Century Packaging & Printing utilizes both digital and flexographic printing to meet customer needs and requirements.

Over the past 25 years of being in the printing industry, CP&P has invested in making its own plates, but with the evolution of the digital press, they no longer need as many plates as they used to. At one point, CP&P was heavily involved in the newspaper business with over 60% of their annual sales coming from this portion of the business. This meant that a large majority of their resources went toward the newspaper market.

One complexity of printing advertising labels for newspapers lies in the fact that they do not often repeat. This process is fundamentally built around a “one and done” thought process and need. After the plate is run once to create the label for the advertiser, it is no longer used again.

As the majority of our society has pivoted digitally to obtain their daily news sources, the number of front pages available for advertising labels has steadily declined. CP&P has adapted to this downturn in demand for advertising labels by pivoting to the food, beverage, and other key markets. They have also leveraged the power of their hybrid press, added in 2022, which has opened up their capacity in plate making.

At this time, CP&P is in a place in their business where they are excited to share the expertise they have accumulated over the last 25 years with other printers in need of a high-quality source of plates. CP&P has put in the time and effort to become distinguished in the plate-making domain.

A significant piece of their success stems from the contract work that was done with Carol Jones– a renowned expert in plate making. Carol worked at Clemson for over 32 years and taught in their graphic communications department. She specialized in Flexography and Electronic Prepress and was devoted to testing and research associated with printing processes and products. Due to their dedication and commitment to putting forth the highest standards, Ben and Neil contracted Carol’s help to strengthen their proficiency in plate making. She came in and standardized their current plate-making process with quality checks to ensure that the quality was not only up to CP&P’s specifications but also held up to high-standard industry specifications. As CP&P’s mastery and aptitude in the world of plate-making grew, they purchased new equipment and established new procedures that would differentiate them from other printers.

Another unique hallmark of CP&P’s plate-making process is that they do not use chemicals. As part of their continued commitment to excellence, CP&P remains clean and environmentally sound with a promise to reduce waste anywhere they can.

The team at CP&P is more than ready to share their knowledge with other printers in the area and will gladly be a resource to anyone who is on the search for a new plate manufacturer. Instead of relying on contracting out to plate-making companies who may not have the same standards as CP&P, Ben and Neil are working diligently on selling their plates to those who are looking for a new plate-making partner.

CP&P ISO Recertification

Century Printing and Packaging has always centered around customer satisfaction and label quality. This high commitment to detail has contributed to the success of their 25 years of business. As part of its commitment to continuous improvement, CP&P has obtained and maintained ISO 901:2015 certification since 2017. The latest audit was completed in January, and their certification was renewed in March. This certification will be effective until 2026, with annual audits to ensure continued compliance.

ISO is an internationally recognized quality management standard. It is a set of quality levels that provide a framework for companies to manage and exceed expectations. ISO standards ensure company products, services, and processes are consistent and cohesive with customer and market needs.

ISO recertification includes stringent audits, detailed procedure run-throughs, and itemized logs. Quality processes follow specific customer service, production, and internal assessment standards. Having ISO auditor approval proves that CP&P can maintain high-level standards and requirements. It puts CP&P on a national playing field with larger companies.

The executive team at CP&P also engages with an independent auditor to ensure the standards are met during the interim of the 3-year ISO 9001 recertifications. These yearly audits are smaller and take about a day.

Ensuring the adoption of exceptional benchmarks allows CP&P to become a better company and improve its internal processes and products. This rigorous audit system can attest that CP&P can meet a well-regarded international standard and compete on any level to meet customer needs.

Because of the importance of a customer-facing product like a label, many clients have stringent quality requirements. Proving that CP&P can maintain the 9001:2015 standard yearly is a minimum baseline requirement before partnering. This focuses on ensuring that CP&P is continuously putting out the best product. Not only does this create long-lasting partnerships, but it also separates CP&P from companies not as serious about quality systems.

Wofford Student Conducts Timestudy

Century Printing & Packaging has been committed to the community for over 25 years and ensures a strong future for manufacturing in the Upstate of South Carolina by hiring high school and college students for part-time positions or internships. One of these students, John Bailey Moore, is a Junior at Wofford College, majoring in finance. He participated in a semester-long program designed to give students like JB opportunities to engage in work experiences outside of mainstream classes.

Interim at Wofford started in 1968 as an opportunity to explore possible career paths and find internship programs and independent studies that pique their interest. It gives students the liberty to explore and innovate, study something new, or leave their comfort zone when the semester schedules aren’t in the way.

In choosing an interim, JB sought first-hand experience and exposure to a real-world business environment. Getting an inside look at the inner workings of a successful organization was what motivated JB to pick an interim in this industry.

John Bailey decided to reach out to CP&P about an opportunity with Ben and Neil. They assigned and presented him with two different tasks to take place over a month during his interim period–

The first was a time study on production equipment. This analytical examination would allow the team to better understand what each employee was doing on the production line and how specific equipment was used precisely during the day. This information is valuable for decision-making in running an efficient business and productive team.

For the first eight days of the study, JB was on the floor at 6 am with the production team. JB’s drive and commitment could be seen from day one– as he started when the machines were turned on and left when they were turned off. In great detail, JB would walk from each press to log the data on the job order, time of day, and press performance.

This pinpointed data was collected 400 times a day, and by the first week, JB had already collected vital metrics and data for the Century Management team. Not only was JB engaging in such a precise process of data collection, but he was also learning about the presses along the way. He learned about the differences between hybrid, digital, and flexo printing purposes and procedures to gain more profound knowledge within his study.

Digital printing is an ideal choice for jobs that require multiple SKUs or multiple versions. This type of printing provides consistency in production with computerized color management. So that label to label, the colors are uniform with no variation between operators.

Flexo printing is fit for longer runs with a minimal number of SKUs. It uses printing plates and inks that must be changed for each job requirement, thus requiring more manual work and time for setup.

In hybrid printing, the two types of print are combined, bridging the gap between them. The hybrid model can produce longer runs and higher label counts while maintaining consistency, repeatability, and efficiency benefits from job to job.

After the data was collected, JB diligently took the weighted averages of each data set and turned them into actionable numbers for Ben and Neil. Looking at the daily averages, weekly averages, and specific data points, like which machine ran the longest, gave CP&P vital statistics and takeaways.

The second section of JB’s project involved an in-depth water usage analysis. This task asked, “how much water was being used daily?” As businesses take a more environmentally friendly approach to usage and waste, the importance of water sits near the top of the list.

JB examined how the team used water after jobs and where the areas for reducing water were within the processes throughout the day. Four of 5 presses owned by CP&P use water-based inks, primarily what the water and washouts are for.

JB would check in with the managers every time they’d run the water system or turn on the sinks and, in doing so– developed an estimate of how much water the sinks could hold and how full they were at the end of each day.

As a result of JB’s study, CP&P has done two things to improve the efficiency of their business as they continue to scale. Ben and Neil decided to purchase a parts washer, which is now routinely being implemented to recycle water so that the team uses less water when cleaning parts at the end of a production day. This has resulted in cost savings, increased efficiency, and better use of water as a resource.

Because of the numbers that JB collected while on the production line, Ben and Neil can now integrate real-time data into their pricing models. This specificity of his data has provided better insights to pull from when determining current and future business and financial endeavors. The Century Management team is currently integrating this real-world data into their pricing models to ensure their costs are accurate and they can offer customers competitive pricing.

“If my data can help Ben and Neil better price job orders, I feel like I contributed to his business,” John Bailey said as he realized how much relevancy his data and study brought to the overall operations of CP&P. During this season of inflation, obtaining real-world data over estimations is crucial to maintain realistic costs and remain dialed into the current economy.

According to JB, the conversations with Ben and Neil were more valuable and relevant than any class he had taken. John Bailey enjoyed asking questions about the business and the “why” behind Ben and Neil’s decisions while he was there and getting thoughtful, in-demand answers in return.

“My favorite part was when I got to tie what I was looking at for 7, 8, 9 hours a day, and how it applied to my finance major,” says JB.

John Bailey focused his attention on all aspects of Century’s business operations that make it a success, including its morning huddles and how its employees maintain high business standards every day. From the production meetings to the sales meetings, JB saw firsthand how Ben and Neil ensured that quality was the same on every single job. JB appreciated that anyone in the office, on the floor, or running the presses was kind and open to helping and explaining different aspects of the business to him.

Ben and Neil are building a vision for their employees to sell to their customers. Seeing that vision come to life was a significant takeaway from JB’s interim experience at CP&P.

Being a part of the surrounding community is a priority for Ben and Neil as they work to stay connected with the next generation of young professionals. CP&P will continue to offer opportunities like this to students in the area. Exposure and experience are invaluable to anyone looking to uplevel their career or personal development like JB.

25th Anniversary of Century Printing & Packaging

25th Anniversaries offer an opportunity to reflect on all the highlights, challenges, and hard work it took to reach such a recognizable occasion. Each milestone over the last quarter of a century comes together to showcase the accomplishments of one family business and offers a point of celebration.

As we step back to see how far Century Printing & Packaging has come, it’s important to remember where it all started. Back in 1994, Ben and Neil’s father, Don, had a company that sold plastic bags in the textile industry. The family built up a good business, and even though they worked on supplying imported bags to major retailers in the sports industry, the textile industry began to decline. With the writing on the wall, they knew they needed to switch gears into a different sector to take their business to the next level.

The printing and packaging market has seen healthy growth over the last decade and is supported by a recognizable demand for high-quality labels. Around this time, labeling had a low barrier to entry in terms of start-up costs. In 1997, Ben and Neil saw this as an opportunity to jump into a new business idea.

The origin point of CP&P started in a small, converted bathroom. An unused bathroom at the same warehouse the Waldrop family used for their plastic bag business was repurposed and turned into the first press room. Neil ran the press, Don sold the labels, and Ben ran the plastic bag business– that’s how Century Printing & Packaging began in 1997 in Greer.

As the father-and-son business began to pick up momentum, growing pains emerged. Finding more space and purchasing another press was necessary to alleviate production times. In November of 2001, the Waldrop family built a building in Greer, SC. Not only this, but 9/11 halted the economy, and the significant commitment they made felt enormous.

CP&P had eight employees during these crucial years and invested in a second press to expand their business ventures. Both the investments in the building and the press proved profitable, and in 2003 the building was paid in full, and in 2004 another essential press was added.

Today, CP&P employs twenty-eight workers and owns five presses.

Over the last 25 years, CP&P has stayed true to its local roots in Greer. The business is active in the community and has helped fuel dozens of reliable jobs for those in the surrounding area. Building up and staying in one location has allowed CP&P to establish a sense of community in Greer while offering support and forging long-term relationships with local customers and suppliers.

In 2022 with the production of over 350 million labels, CP&P takes pride in its customer relationships and the continuation of exemplary business practices. CP&P serves customers right around 40 states in the U.S. and works with companies like Aiken Chemical, DiscoverFresh Foods, New York Butcher Shoppe, and Westbrook Brewing Company.

The team at CP&P is constantly bringing in new business. Whether from outbound sales, word of mouth, referrals, or recommendations, CP&P is ready to provide customers with the highest quality labels and streamline the process from idea conception to final product.

CP&P diligently increases their online marketing efforts year after year. Focusing on strengthening their online presence has significantly grown the business and its future development. This digital presence continues to open new opportunities for CP&P and builds more authentic relationships– giving them a better reach into the industry and solving their customers’ everyday challenges. Remaining relevant online is vital for a thriving business, generating engagement, and getting in front of the right clients– and CP&P doesn’t shy away from ensuring that’s a priority.

Being a small, local business has its challenges. Still, CP&P has proven time and time again how their dedication to exceptional customer experience and consistent, high-quality products can and will always compete with large corporations. CP&P brings the human aspect back into the business and doesn’t hesitate to find new innovative ways to deliver memorable customer satisfaction.

In 2018, CP&P added a digital press to keep up with the growing demand and evolution of the labeling space. Furthermore, this past year in 2022, a hybrid press joined the production line and has begun to pave the future for the team at CP&P.

Digital printing technology has allowed CP&P to keep up with the growing demand and the production of labels that can withstand various conditions, have seamless scannability, and a long shelf-life. Customers are looking for quality and sustainability. By staying competitive with the addition of digital and hybrid presses, CP&P remains top of mind as brands search for attractive labels that will sell their products.

Not only does the investment in digital presses ensure stellar quality and shortened turnaround times, but they also cut down significantly on waste and eliminate plates in sustainable efforts to combat environmental challenges. The carbon-neutral materials and use of polymer-based inks emit fewer greenhouse gases. CP&P additionally uses has access to paper from renewable forests, reducing their environmental footprint compared to traditional printing and packaging methods.

Despite rapidly changing customer behavior and consumer buying shifts, CP&P upheld its customer promise throughout the pandemic. CP&P aided in the increased production of labels in the disinfectant and grocery industries as they adapted to the changing economic climate. Supply issues continued to manifest during this time, making it harder for the team to get the supplies they needed to produce for their customers. However, even in times of crisis, CP&P overcame worldwide obstacles while always pursuing its mission to be an integral part of their customers’ businesses.

25 years down. So, what’s next for Century Printing & Packaging?

As Ben and Neil stay on top of trends, it is evident that more printing will move to a digital model. CP&P already has set goals to add more digital presses in the coming years, as their reaction to what the market is expecting will play a large part in how the business grows and moves forward. As customers also become more conscious of their buying decisions, CP&P will work hard in the background to ensure that more water-based inks are used to reduce their environmental footprint.

When Don, Ben, and Neil started in 1997, they weren’t sure how far the company would go. CP&P originated around a time were few local label companies existed. This presented an opening in the market for them, and they haven’t looked back since. What they brought to the table from their plastic bag experience was different than what traditionally had been seen in the labeling industry. For example, keeping inventory for their customers wasn’t standard practice when they started the business due to the fear of getting stuck with inventory. However, Ben and Neil believed the risk was low, and overall, that has proven correct– allowing CP&P the upper hand in meeting their customer’s needs and expectations quicker than other providers.

One thing that differentiates CP&P from other larger companies is their dedication to their employees and their employee’s reciprocated commitment to CP&P. Some employees have been with the company for over 15 years and have witnessed the steady growth firsthand.

Over the last 25 years, CP&P has proven to be integral to the part they play in the result of their customer’s products. A necessary piece of CP&P’s profound success has derived from enabling solid partnerships with customers and going above and beyond in executing their visions. The following 25 years aren’t promised to come without challenges, but CP&P’s promise to their customers remains unwavering, which is why customers will continue to return for years.