Reflecting on 2024 So Far: Century Printing and Packaging’s Milestones and Observed Market Trends

As we stand at the midpoint of the year, Century Printing and Packaging takes a moment to reflect on the milestones achieved, strides made, and advancements moving our industry. CP&P has seen great progress and has established strategic initiatives that set the stage for the next six months to improve and innovate for every client.

Century Printing and Packaging has achieved remarkable success this year, having sold over 85 million labels and fulfilled over 3,000 orders. This substantial volume highlights CP&P’s ability and dedication to meeting high demand while maintaining top-notch execution. The presence of a well-organized team working in unison has been instrumental in reaching these impressive milestones.

Let’s uncover some direct impacts to better understand what led to Century Printing and Packaging’s success in the year’s first half.

According to an article on LinkedIn, the Chemical Resistant Labels Market is projected to grow by 13.6% from 2024 to 2031. CP&P has focused on the chemical segment, which has led to their growth and expertise in providing specialized labeling solutions for this industry. Keeping up with this rapidly growing market shows their ability to meet the specific needs of chemical manufacturers, ensuring safety and compliance through durable and long-lasting labeling solutions.

Another reason for the remarkable success witnessed in 2024 is the sale of RFID labels. Century Printing and Packaging has taken the necessary steps to integrate itself into the new world of RFID labeling, not only to understand the industry’s changes but also to position the team as experts in the space. CP&P also intends to invest in encoding equipment for RFID labels within the year, bolstering its capability to stay current with future RFID trend needs.

In line with technological advancements, CP&P is exploring the purchase of a second digital press by the end of the year. This investment will empower the team to proactively assess and respond to customers’ evolving needs. By incorporating additional production bandwidth through introducing new presses, CP&P will have the capacity to accommodate a broader range of customer requirements.

Next, let’s examine market dynamics and customer trends that are significantly contributing to CP&P’s 2024 growth.

We are all experiencing the impact of inflation in one way or another, but one positive effect is the growing favor for store brands over name brands. A significant number of CP&P’s customers produce store brands, and this change in consumer preference has directly boosted sales. You may have already observed the trend of store brands occupying more space in shopping carts as consumers actively seek budget-friendly alternatives to name brands. Read more about this trend in the Wall Street Journal.

In contrast to last year, when supply chain disruptions presented significant challenges, 2024 has witnessed more stable supply chains. Century Printing and Packaging has taken proactive measures by expanding its pool of materials suppliers. This move ensures cost competitiveness and swift production timelines without any delays. The newfound stability has enabled CP&P to prioritize delivering consistent quality and reliability to their customers, even amid ongoing uncertainties in global supply chains.

Lastly, let’s dive into some strategic initiatives that CP&P has taken that will lead them into a flourishing 2025.

Century Printing and Packaging has conducted extensive studies on setup costs in response to customers’ heightened price sensitivity. This research has allowed them to refine existing pricing models, ensuring competitive quotes while maintaining profitability. By understanding the detailed costs of each production run, CP&P can provide customers with the best possible pricing without compromising quality.

Century’s workforce remains a cornerstone of their yearly success. CP&P takes pride in having a stable and dedicated team with the right people in the right positions, driving operations forward without interruption. A unified team, all pushing in the same direction, will fortify CP&P against any challenges that come their way in the second half of the year.

Looking ahead to the second half of 2024, Century Printing and Packaging is confident in its ability to continue providing high-value labels at every price point to its customers. The strategic investments mentioned above, strong production capabilities, and stable supply chains position CP&P well for future growth.

Century Printing and Packaging wouldn’t be here today without the support of its customers, partners, and team members for their continued collaboration and dedication. Together, CP&P is looking forward to achieving even greater milestones in the coming months and years.

Thank you for being a part of the journey.

The Art of a Quote

In the labeling realm, the quote process is the bedrock of the communication between a vendor and a customer. With a remarkable 27 years of industry expertise, Century Printing and Packaging comprehends and masters the intricate details of providing precise and competitive quotes that meet clients’ needs. Several factors come into play when preparing a quote for a label job. These include the size of the label, the number of colors required, and the intended end use of the label. One of the most important considerations is the specific standards that the client requires. This could include a wide range of factors, such as the type of materials used, the branding strategy, and the overall design and aesthetic of the product.

Material selection is critical, where a delicate balance between value and quality must be struck. Clients often seek materials that are both cost-effective and durable. CP&P has demonstrated exceptional proficiency in identifying this ideal equilibrium, ensuring that the selected materials meet the requisite performance criteria and remain economical, assuring the cost-effectiveness and durability of materials.

Pricing for label jobs is typically based on a per-thousand-label basis. The higher the quantity, the lower the per-thousand cost, as the setup cost for the label can be spread out across a larger unit size. This pricing model offers competitive rates while maintaining high-quality standards. By updating their pricing models regularly and sourcing materials from multiple vendors, Century Printing and Packaging ensures they provide the best quality at the best price.

A labeling quote includes a detailed breakdown of all aspects of the label production process. This includes the choice of materials, whether paper or film, the type of laminate or coating to be applied, and the size and configuration of the label rolls. The quote also itemizes any costs associated with tooling, such as tooling required for custom shapes or sizes. This level of detail ensures that clients understand the production process and associated costs, allowing them to make informed decisions that align with their labeling needs and budget constraints.

Additionally, CP&P meets the 9001:2015 International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard. The ISO sets international standards for quality management systems to ensure that products and services meet customer requirements and regulatory standards. Century Printing and Packaging’s ISO quality system is crucial in its operations, particularly in the labeling quote process.

ISO standards provide a framework for companies to establish, maintain, and implement standardized processes and procedures to ensure that every label meets the highest quality standards. One key aspect of CP&P’s ISO quality system is a checklist integrated into its production process. This checklist serves as a comprehensive guide for press operators and managers. It outlines the critical steps and quality checks needed during the label setup and production process. It covers aspects such as ensuring the correct die-cut, verifying that graphics match the proof, and confirming that the right materials are used.

Century Printing and Packaging is acutely aware of the significance of environmental sustainability in labeling. While clients may express a preference for sustainable materials, their availability and cost can pose challenges. Century Printing and Packaging’s approach is to harmonize client preferences with practicality, ensuring they offer environmentally friendly options whenever possible, thereby reassuring clients of their commitment to ethical practices.

Undoubtedly, the process of labeling quotes is a multifaceted and critical aspect of the labeling industry. It involves intricate scrutiny of factors such as label size, material, design, and printing techniques to arrive at an accurate and cost-effective quote. Century Printing and Packaging has earned a reputation as an experienced and reliable player in the industry, adept at effortlessly navigating these complexities and delivering exceptional results at the right price.

The Essential Role of Finishing in the Label Printing Process

When it comes to printing, the focus often lies on the press and the creation of the label. However, the finishing responsibilities after printing are just as crucial. At Century Printing and Packaging, finishing is not just a step; it’s an art that ensures your labels are printed beautifully and ready for use.

Finishing is the final stage between printing and shipping. It involves several key processes that transform the printed material into the final product ready for application. After printing, the labels are rewound to the desired size rolls using standup or tabletop rewinders. Standup rewinders are faster and used for larger jobs, while tabletop rewinders are ideal for smaller jobs or those requiring splicing. The labels are also slit if necessary, dividing a single roll into multiple rolls.

Splicing ensures that labels are seamlessly joined together, whether applied by hand or machine. When labels are machine-applied, the splice must be stronger to withstand the tension from the applicator. In contrast, labels applied by hand require a less intense splice. Understanding how the label will be applied is essential for determining the type of splice needed. This attention to detail ensures that labels are prepared correctly for their intended use, highlighting Century’s commitment to delivering high-quality products tailored to their customers’ needs.

There are three main packaging options that can be chosen for different reasons: rolled, fan-folded, or sheeted. Rolled labels are the most common, with the material received on rolls, printed, and then finished on rolls. Fan folding is used for applications like newspapers, where labels are folded together. Sheeted labels are individual sheets that must be stacked, counted, and organized.

Meticulous quality control measures are in place throughout the process to ensure the labels meet specifications and match the customer’s proof. Once everything is set up and approved, the operator proceeds with the finishing process, which may involve rewinding the labels onto smaller rolls, fan folding them, or preparing them in sheets, depending on the customer’s needs. Finally, once the labels are processed and checked, they are ready for packaging and shipping, marking the completion of the finishing process.

Finishing is a vital step in the label printing process that can often get overlooked. However, it’s the final touch that guarantees your labels not only look great but are also ready to be used as intended. At Century Printing and Packaging, each member of the finishing department understands the nuances of this final stage, ensuring even the most complex jobs are handled with precision. The customer’s proof serves as a reference point throughout the process, ensuring that the finished labels match the customer’s specifications. This attention to detail prevents errors and saves time and resources by catching any issues early in the process. By prioritizing quality control and proofs, Century Printing and Packaging demonstrates its commitment to delivering superior results with enhanced appeal for every label.

The Difference Between Water-Based and UV Inks for Labeling

When it comes to labeling, the choice of ink can significantly impact the final product’s appearance, durability, and environmental footprint. At Century Printing and Packaging, we understand the nuances of both water-based and UV inks and have positioned ourselves as experts to help our customers make the best decisions upon choosing labels.

There are a variety of differences between these two types of inks including environmental, durability, and price distinctions.

Environmental Differences

Water-based inks are renowned for their eco-friendliness and do not contain harmful chemicals that may affect the environment or human health. They are FDA-approved for direct food contact, so if there’s a film that wraps around the product, like a nutrition bar, or if there’s a label that goes directly on a fruit or a vegetable, water-based inks will be the best choice. Not only are they visually appealing and informative, but they are also ideal for labels used in the grocery industry. While some UV inks are known for being low-migration, Century Printing and Packaging choose to strictly use only water-based inks for our direct food contact materials.

Durability

When it comes to durability, UV ink comes out on top—with its superior brightness, resolution, and color vibrancy compared to water-based inks. UV inks contain photopolymers that are exposed to UV light during the printing process. The resulting reaction produce flawless colors that stand out. Additionally, UV inks are more durable and resistant to degradation, making them suitable for tough environments like beer labels that may come into contact with water or ice. Water based inks in the same environment may require the additional protection (and cost) of varnish or laminate.

Price

In terms of cost, water-based inks are the more economical choice. They are significantly cheaper than UV inks, which can cost four to five times more per pound. This cost difference is something we consider when pricing our services to ensure transparency and value for our customers.

At Century Printing and Packaging, we have been using water-based inks since our establishment in 1997. Our expertise also extends to UV inks, allowing us to guide customers based on their specific needs and end usage. Whether achieving a particular look, ensuring food safety, or enhancing durability, we have the experience and know-how to deliver the best results.

When choosing between water-based and UV inks, we recommend considering your labels’ end usage and priorities. If food safety and cost-effectiveness are paramount, water-based inks are the way to go. However, UV inks may be more suitable if you’re looking for superior color vibrancy and durability.

When deciding between water-based and UV inks, several factors must be considered—from whether the ink will be used in the food industry to its desired performance. Carefully weighing these factors can help you make an informed decision on which type of ink to choose. At Century Printing and Packaging, we are here to help you navigate these choices and ensure your labels meet your unique requirements.

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.