Grace Label: Domino “Fits in Well with Our Family Culture”

DES MOINES, IAGrace Label is a full-service narrow web label and packaging converter located in Des Moines, IA. Founded in 1975 by Ned & Alice Grace, this family-owned business has seen much change and growth in its 46 years. Ned, who was national sales manager for Avery Dennison’s Fasson Roll Division prior to starting Grace Label, passed away unexpectedly a year into the new business. But Alice and her four sons kept the company going, it grew under her leadership and relocated to a larger facility in 1998. Her son Steve, who worked at the company as a young man, went on to college at the University of Iowa, earning his bachelors degree and then Juris Doctor (J.D.) in 1986. After graduation, he practiced corporate law in Kansas City. When Alice’s health began to decline, Steve came back to work for the company, ultimately bought out his brothers’ interests, and became president and CEO of Grace Label in 1999. Under Steve’s leadership the company has continued to grow and expand the product and service offering which includes pressure-sensitive, roll-fed, and cut and stack labels; shrink sleeves; pouches; flexible packaging; and more.

Domino recently caught up with the team at Grace Label to learn more about their business, the benefits realized since adding digital printing to their arsenal, and why they chose Domino.

What makes Grace Label successful?
“Typically, our customers value the business and personal relationships that we form and once established, our relationship lasts for many years,” said Steve. “Our customers are treated like family, and they know the Grace Label team from top to bottom. This has made a measurable difference in our growth over the past four decades. People know that we take their business needs seriously and personally.”

“We respond quickly to their needs and requirements because we are a privately held, family-owned business. While we may be smaller than some of our competition, we have the nimbleness to make decisions and turn projects quickly. We have the breadth of product offering that matches many of our larger competitors, and our quality meets and exceeds our customers’ expectations.”

Grace Label Domino N610i
From left: Alex Huynh, Lou Thurston, Steve Grace, Kyle Grace

What markets do you serve and what are your customers’ label needs and expectations?
Lou Thurston, account executive: “Our market focus is food and beverage; however, we also serve health care, automotive, personal care, household chemical, and other sectors. Our customers’ expectations are common. They want quality products, on-time delivery, quick turns, and they want us to understand their needs and develop the product and service offering that is customized to their business. What’s important for our customers and prospects to know is that we are growing, and we offer more products and services than ever before. We treat our customers like family and always put their needs first.”

Why digital? What were the drivers that made you decide “we need digital”?
Lou says, “We knew we needed to get into the digital label business. We were doing a ton of short-run work that was tying up our flexo press capacity and with the cost of printing plates, it negatively impacted our competitiveness on acquiring new business.”

Why Domino? Why did you choose Domino over all other digital printing providers?
Steve says, “The Domino N610i digital UV inkjet label press best matched our flexo capabilities over dry toner and other digital offerings. The absence of click charges and other cost drivers was also quite appealing. We have been very satisfied with Domino as our partner in our digital venture.”

When was the press installed and how has it impacted your business?
“The Domino was installed in 2019, our operators were trained, and it has run very well for us. As with any new piece of equipment there were some learning curves, but with the support from Domino and the capabilities we have with this press, our digital business has grown significantly,” said Steve. “We have realized year-over-year sales growth exceeding 15 percent. We have gained several new accounts, and it has allowed us to go after business we could not have acquired with just flexo.”

Lou further explains: “We are able to go after shorter runs. We are also able to be more competitive on combo runs with many SKUs that don’t require press stops, plate changes, etc. The Domino N610i gives us the us the flexibility to grow with our customers and transition their business to flexo when the quantities make sense. The ability to match color using the Domino has been a significant benefit as well.”

“The ‘Domino Difference’ for Grace Label is the quality of the print delivered by the N610i press and the easy integration with our flexo capabilities. Domino is a great partner and fits in well with our family culture.”

Kyle Grace, manufacturing manager who directs the manufacturing operations and scheduling adds, “By having the Domino, we have decreased the small run load on our flexo presses and improved overall production efficiencies throughout our operations.”

Describe the training, service and support you receive from Domino?
Kyle continues, “Domino’s training is very thorough. We were able to send personnel to Gurnee, IL for training, and Domino personnel came to Grace Label as well. And Domino’s service has been very good. We call Domino and get answers quickly, and their technicians come here for more extensive service and maintenance.

Is there a ‘Domino Difference’?
Steve says, “The ‘Domino Difference’ for Grace Label is the quality of the print delivered by the N610i press and the easy integration with our flexo capabilities. Domino is a great partner and fits in well with our family culture.”

Lou adds, “The addition of the Domino N610i press has extended our bandwidth in the markets we serve. It has helped us bring on new business quicker, as well as improve our response time to our customers. Domino has proven to be a great partner and the N610i has proven to be a perfect complement to our flexo production. Thanks Domino!”