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FLEXO Magazine : November 2010
Plants & Processes By christian r. Bonawandt It’s no secret among corrugated converters: the new frontier is high-end direct print flexo graphics. After 40 years of suc- cessfully producing quality brown corrugated containers for the local area, Don Crossley, president and Carol Hoyt, CEO, owners of Advance Packaging, Grand Rapids, MI , realized that new directions were needed to spur continued growth. That’s why, in 2006, this FTA member made major investments in cutting-edge flexographic printing/converting equipment. More so than that, Advance Packaging went out of its way to build a massive, state-of-the-art facility. But while, at 425,000sq.ft. the plant has quite the physical footprint, its car- bon footprint is actually quite small. Reaching Out Long before the Great Recession was officially declared in 2008, Crossley had noticed that change was in the air. “Michi- gan has been hit hard with manufacturing declines,” he says. “So, the writing was on the wall: We had to become appeal- ing beyond the Michigan market. ” But overseas competition had long since forced down margins in the brown box industry, making shipping outside the region difficult. That meant adding value, and avoiding commoditization. “A lot of the corrugated that has been left in the U.S. is from high-end packaging,” adds Crossley. “ We realized that if we could become one of the few who could do it right, we could expand beyond our current geography. ” About 10 years ago, according to Jamie Stevens, graphic sales manager at Advance Packaging, the industry shipping market began a large shift. “People realized that they could put much more than arrows and ‘This Side Up’ or warnings like ‘Don’t Cut With a Knife.’ T hey realized that they could add their logo or something different than just simple text.” “I can’t ship brown boxes from here to Indianapolis and be competitive,” says David Oursler, vice president of sales. “However, in the retail world, I can ship four-color boxes to Indianapolis and be competitive because not that many people are doing it. And if you are good at it, then you have a good following.” Advance had run one- and two-color line work in the past, but had little experience beyond that. The equipment pur- chases and new building were all built by 2006. In January of 2007, Advance Packaging ran its first high-end graphics with coated paper. Oursler says the company invested in a brand new 110in. BHS and two Gopfert rotary die cutters. “One is 110in. wide, seven colors, and can do water-based inks plus UV coatings. The other one is 125in. wide with three colors. There are also two Martin flexo-folder-gluers and an 86in. by 212in. Flex- o-line flexo-folder-gluer. That’s probably the second oldest machine in the building. There is also a printer/slotter that we run here and there.” Stevens says it took some time for Advance Packaging to earn its chops in this market. “ T he retail community is very tight. But if one customer has a good experience with you, many times they will actually help network for you,” she says. Being honest is central to one’s reputation, she insists. “ If you, in the youth of being a printer, cannot meet a customer ’s expectations, then you should not sell to that person. If you do, and you screw it up, you will never get rid of that reputation.” So be honest: Tell them what can be done by the direct print process, and let them know what needs to be changed to fit the process. We want long-term partnerships with our cus- tomers and a good partner doesn’t make promises without knowing the outcome. It is common for us to team up with a high-end graphics & eco-Friendly advance Packaging expands its Geographic reach www.flexography.org novemBer 2010 FLEXO 63 FLX_Nov10_mech.indd 63 11/1/10 2:25 PM
Sustainable Fall 2010