On a cold call to a major automotive supplier in 1992, Fred Arnold had trouble selling the traditional commercial print offerings of his recently acquired firm, McBattas Packaging and Printing. However, he did uncover a need for a better, faster way to print smudge-proof bar codes on 18-point sleeves for fan belts.

belt sleeves

Although the Fairbury, Neb.-based firm lacked the equipment to deliver that application, he took up the challenge, eventually redesigning an offset press to meet the spec. With the redesigned press, he not only won the business, but he grew it so much that it eventually filled capacity on seven offset presses over two shifts, supplying client locations in Mexico, the United States and Venezuela.

Fast forward to the recession that began in 2007. The automotive business slowed, and so did general commercial printing, leaving packaging as the only growth industry in the McBattas portfolio.

Pack_BLOG_300x300

Rather than compete directly with “the big guys” in the packaging industry, Arnold said, he focused on the emerging segment of short-run packaging. Increasingly, customers are willing to pay slightly more for shorter runs that give them the exact quantity they need and don’t lock them into keeping inventory. “No one wants inventory—that’s money on the floor,” Arnold said.

To jump-start the business, Arnold acquired a Xerox iGen4 Diamond Edition Press in 2011, complete with 26-inch sheet-size capabilities. Business has grown steadily, and in 2013, McBattas acquired a second iGen4 Diamond Edition Press with the Thick Stock capability. This expands their packaging universe by enabling printing on stocks as thick as 24 point and 530 gsm. “The packaging has to be durable and strong enough to hold the contents,” Arnold said.

McBattas Packaging and Printing

McBattas complements its presses with die cutting, gluing and finishing capabilities, enabling them to produce complete packaging solutions in house and meet their customers’ needs for short runs and tight turnaround times.

Today McBattas produces boxes and packages in multiple languages for well-known brands in the automotive, apparel, cosmetics, food and medical industries (Check out the case study for more details on their short-run packaging applications). They also produce retail hangtags with barcodes that indicate when the last item hanging on the rack has been used, necessitating restocking or reordering. In addition, they do work for other printers who lack digital packaging production capabilities. Print runs typically range between 1,500 and 5,000 pieces. Because customers will pay a premium to get exactly the quantity they need, these runs can be just as profitable as the 250,000 to 500,000 pieces customers might order from traditional providers to get a price advantage.

Now McBattas is exploring more exotic promotional applications that take advantage of the iGen’s Thick Stock capability. Among them:

  • Dimensional pop-up mailers, that not only take advantage of the durability offered by thick substrates, but also add creative flair that’s sure to leave a lasting impression on the recipient.
  • A range of personalized gift boxes, perfect for weddings, birthdays and anniversaries.
  • Die-cut, business card mailers aimed at targeted verticals.

With these on-demand solutions in place, Arnold anticipates 40 percent growth in his short-run digital packaging business over the next five years.

Do your clients have packaging needs? What are you doing to capture the opportunity?