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FLEXO Magazine : September 2007
ers who previously brought product into the country and then had it repackaged and labeled but now import shelf-ready goods," said Watkins. "Domestic market manufacturers, in order to compete in the global market, are cutting inventories, which results in continu- ing pressure for immediate delivery of labels and other packaging. Regional label producers who have developed a reliable response system capability to meet the new delivery demands can continue to experience business growth." Konkol stated, "We produce labels for industrial customers. They have moved their production sites out of the U.S. and expect their suppliers to follow them." Earl noted that he maintains business by stepping up his turn- arounds and keeping his pricing competitive. "We're aware of the affect of globalization on the packaging market. Many buyers looking for shrink sleeves think that by working with an overseas manufacturer they will be guaranteed a lower cost, but are often surprised at the long lead times involved or forget to factor in the freight cost of shipping overseas. "The advantages of working with a U.S.-based manufacturer is that you receive your finished shrink product within a four-week time frame (that's nearly twice as fast as overseas manufacturers) and everything is done under one roof (prepress, printing, and seaming), so we have control over the product from start to finish. At a recent tradeshow, a prospective client, who had been pricing out a company based in China, commented that he was pleasantly surprised at our shrink sleeve pricing as well as turnaround time. The bottom line is that you don't have to go half way around the world to get the product that you need. U.S.-based companies can be competitive in an ever-growing global climate." THINGS TO COME Those who responded to FLEXO's poll spoke to technologies that would have an impact on the label-printing world in the years to come. Most focused their thoughts on the rise of digital print- ing. Konkol expressed the belief, "Digital will continue to grow with short-run, on-demand requirements." Lingo insisted, "Digital will eventually replace flexo." Watkins took a more optimistic stance, saying, "Stand-alone digital label printers have made inroads into traditional flexo mar- kets and will continue to do so. But an offsetting business gain can be achieved with the digital printing technology bringing greater capability and enabling a broader product range as it is effectively integrated into the flexo process." But Earl saw bigger impacts coming from other directions. "Any advances in technology that helps flexographic printers improve their end-product will be effective in promoting flexography's cred- ibility and maintaining profitability," he said. "Due to the versatility and brand exposure offered by both shrink and flexible packaging, we estimate increased interest and revenue in both of these areas over the next five to 10 years." "Another trend that will likely increase in popularity---particu- larly as demand rises, prices decline, and/or pressure on manufac- turers increases---is green packaging. There is a definite interest in this type of packaging, but green substrates tend to be higher in price than their traditional counterpart, which makes customers hesitant to take that leap until a higher level of comfort and famil- iarity is established."