Label King, located in beautiful San Diego, California USA recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. With over 3.5 BILLON labels sold, this humble and dynamic label printer converter has grown every year for the past two decades. Underpinned by a strong team of excellent employees, many of whom have been with the company for over 15 years, Label King continues to enhance their business with the addition of the Domino N610i digital UV inkjet label press… their first digital printing asset.
We caught up with Label King to learn more about the company, and why they added Domino digital as a complementary technology to their flexo label presses.
Robert Parker, owner & president… as well as a friend to many in the industry… begins, “My role is to oversee the business and make sure that we do our best to service our customers. We knew that digital printing would be important and a key part of our future, but the only way we could add a digital press was to build an extension to our building. It took over a year from the city to get the necessary approval and permit for the expansion, plus an additional six months or so to build it. In parallel to that, I knew that we would need to bring in an individual that would be able to wear many hats… from spearheading digital and managing our prepress, to redoing our website, changing our logo, and modernizing the company.”
In August 2020, Label King found that special person in Turi Fiske, digital production & marketing manager. She says, “I do all of the production management, scheduling, making sure we have material and inventory on hand. I also take care of the art management, making sure all of the files look good, all the colors are good, all the profiles are good, making us more efficient…updating our website…really working on a wide variety of things. That’s why I like it.”
Robert says, “Thanks to Turi, we now look like a company that you’d want to work with, versus a company where everyone has mullets and is stuck in the 80’s. HA!”
As a prime label printer, Label King prides itself in providing more, and being an imperative part of their customers’ business. Robert says, “I like to think that we are a service company that makes labels. Labels are a commodity. There’s a lot of people who can make labels. But we want to give customers an excellent experience… giving them what they want, when they want it, how they want it, and ultimately helping to make their product even better…so they sell more. It’s a win-win.
Due diligence to digital.
Through a very thorough vetting process to determine who the best partner for their business would be, Label King reviewed multiple digital printing providers. Turi says, “For me at least, I want something that’s not complicated. I want it to be easy. I don’t want it to be difficult. We need a wide color gamut for the types of labels we print, and a support team to help us.”
Robert adds, “We know there are a lot of good digital providers out there. So one of the first things we did was a blind comparison of printed samples. We had probably 15 files we sent to six or seven digital providers. We wanted them to print the art files and send them back to us. Once we received all of them back, we wrote the name of each press manufacturer on the back of their labels. It was a completely blind test. We ranked them all on color accuracy, print quality of text, and overall image sharpness. And we narrowed it down to the top three.”
Label King would then visit those three digital providers for in-person demonstrations and have them run a multitude of jobs on various substrates from art files that Label King brought with them. “We didn’t want to give them any time in advance to prepare. We wanted to show up on the day of the demo with files in hand, and see how difficult it would be, and how the labels would look.”
Domino was one of those three companies. Turi says, “The funny part about this is we show up at Domino, we barely even told your team what material our samples are on, and then you hit the colors the first time. And it was the easiest process. We were able to achieve more, in less time.”
Robert adds, “And there was no concern from the demo room. Everyone at Domino did a fantastic job. And we tried to keep a poker face when we were there, but then Turi and I got into the car and we were both like ‘wow, that was easy!’ And at Domino there was great teamwork and great camaraderie.”
And through this extensive due diligence process, Label King chose Domino.
Money making machine.
The Domino N610i digital UV inkjet label press was installed and began running production in May 2022.
Robert describes, “We started at zero and began ramping up. By our fourth month of production, our revenue from that press was over $100,000. Having the Domino has enabled us to increase capacity, keep existing business that otherwise we would have lost, as well as gain new business.”
“As an example, last week I received a phone call from a brand owner in the food sector, a company with big potential. Based on their large number of SKUs it would not be a good fit to run on flexo… but a very good fit for digital. They needed 16 labels for a presentation they were having with Walmart. We received their art on Monday, we produced the labels the same day on the Domino, and they had their presentation on Tuesday. Walmart told the president of the food manufacturer that the labels looked amazing. We would not have been able to do this test run on flexo. From what started with 16 labels, the potential is millions.”
Making it easy & efficient.
Turi discusses how having Domino digital has helped change their business, making it more efficient. “There’s been multiple times where we get an order and we’re able to get it out the same day. Once the file is ready, we can get a rerun order printed within 15 minutes. From a production standpoint, it’s just been so easy. There’s so much less setup. The files are already on the press. As long as the right materials are ready to go, we can print immediately. It just takes all of the administrative work out of it.”
“The amount of flexibility the Domino has given us, is huge, and it has a very wide expanded color gamut. We do a lot of spot colors on flexo, and the Domino allows us to hit a huge amount of those colors. The ink is so vibrant with really bright colors, which is important. Labels have to standout on a shelf. And so having that vibrancy is definitely helpful. And I think it makes Label King stand out, as well.”
“Being able to print something and show our customer immediately, so they can see exactly what it will look like. Putting something tangible in their hands that they can see before they approve the production run. It’s peace of mind having press checks on the Domino. The customer can visit, we can make a change to the PDF. Just print it right away. We don’t have to say, ‘OK, come back in two days when plates are ready.’ So it’s just a nice tool to have. And it helps us build those relationships with the customer as well.
The gold standard.
Robert says, “We have a customer with an intricate label with a very challenging background, multiple SKUs, different sizes. The art received from the customer was inconsistent and very tricky to work with. We had been working with them for two years, and they got to the end of their rope because our printing was inconsistent on the flexo press. We have excellent operators, and they would adjust the colors on press to make it look as close as they could, but sometimes the art the customer provided wasn’t the same as it was before… for the background. And at the end, they were looking to go elsewhere. And fortunately, we got the Domino in time. The customer came in for a press check and we brought them back to the Domino. With what would have taken days to prepare and run on flexo… 20 SKUs, 120 plates… we ran all of them on the Domino within one hour during lunch, and the customer was out of their minds with excitement. They said, ‘Oh my gosh, this is amazing.’ And we told them this is how we would run their jobs all the time moving forward. Having the Domino saved that business. What used to be difficult is now easy. I can’t wait until their next order because now it’s a piece of cake.”
Doing more. A world of possibilities.
Turi says, “This press offers us great flexibility… whether it’s helping us get into smaller businesses with shorter runs of 700 labels, or longer runs of 500,000 labels at 30,000 linear feet… VDP (Variable Data Printing) jobs… consecutive bar codes. Some of the jobs we would not have been able to even consider if we were running only on flexo. And the other thing is, we are able to help give our customers a leg up on their competition because now they’re able to offer creative packaging solutions with various colors for all of their SKUs, opening the door to a world of possibilities.”
Robert adds, “The Domino has also enabled us to do more on our flexo presses as well, because those presses are now running only the jobs best suited for them. So instead of clogging up the pipeline when we had only flexo, now we allocate the label jobs to the best fit technology. And it increases our capacity. So for example, if you do $3 million a year on a digital press, it actually increases your capacity more than $3 million, because now you can also put more work through the flexo presses as well.”
Turi says, “If you think about the type of jobs that lend themselves best to digital, it’s the ones that suck to set up on flexo. It’s the 8-color jobs. It’s the ones with super short runs with a bunch of plate changes. And so I think being able to move those jobs over to the Domino, our flexo operators are happier as well. They don’t want to set up and clean up an 8-color job. So it really makes it best for everyone.”
One of the key advantages that digital brings to label printing is a reduction in material waste. Turi says, “When we compare it to our flexo jobs, there’s no question that we are using less material running on the Domino. Also, our shop rule is if there is 500 feet or less of material remaining on a roll, we would generally throw it away because we can’t print a flexo job on that. However, today we printed a 300-foot job running that material through the Domino. And we have a pile of those small rolls. So we are now able to maximize our material usage. It not only saves material, but it also saves time. It’s just a quicker and more efficient process.”
The Domino Difference
Turi says that the benefits Label King has seen in partnering with Domino go above and beyond the press. “The amount of training and wide variety of support we’ve gotten from Domino has been so helpful. I call people that I know and they’re able to provide tailored advice for what we need, it’s great. Whether I call Sarah, or Glen, or Ernest… everyone has been so incredibly helpful. And I think you guys are the perfect size. You have all of the answers, and everyone there knows who we are. It’s very personal. I can’t imagine it not being Domino.”
Robert adds, “The Domino difference is Domino. It’s the personalized service. And that’s huge. We don’t feel like a number. And it’s not just one person talking to us. It’s the relationships with multiple people at Domino. The Domino employees care about what they’re doing and really want to do the best job they can. And you know, that to us as a small company is very important.”
Turi concludes, “To put it super succinctly. The Domino N610i was easy to learn and it’s easy to use, and luckily, we don’t need a lot of support. So that’s a huge benefit. But when we do need support, we know that we’ll get it.”
Domino is a leading manufacturer and distributor of digital printing and product identification solutions. Celebrating its 45th year in business, Domino is a global organization with world headquarters in the UK, and North America headquarters in Gurnee, IL. Domino has 25 subsidiaries, representation in over 120 countries, and over 3,100 employees worldwide.