When FTA member Best Label Co decided to pursue FIRST Individual Certifications, it was for a simple reason: “Because statistical process control and printing to the numbers are essential,” recalls its General Manager John Crammer.
“Our FIRST Company Certification has closed the loop between production and prepress,” he says. “Through the education of FIRST and the FIRST methodology, there is now a better understanding of what each department does, why they do it and how they do it.”Here, FLEXO Magazine talks to John and Dan, as well as Sales & Marketing Manager Travis Gilkey and Art Director Bekki Harmon, to get their feedback on each individual certification, how the company certification brings it all together, and how they communicate the benefits to improve relationships with existing customers and win new business.
FLEXO Magazine: How large is Best Label Co? How many locations/presses/employees/shifts does the company have?
John Crammer: We have three locations: Northern California (Union City, which is FIRST Company Certified), Southern California (Cerritos) and Guadalajara, Mexico. Between them, there’s a total of 31 presses, run by a combined 160 employees across 24/6 shifts.
FLEXO: In what market segment(s) does the company do business?
John Crammer: We operate in the food and beverage, health and beauty, nutraceutical/pharmaceutical, chemical/industrial, advertising and marketing, automotive, sports and entertainment, and agriculture markets.
FLEXO: What’s new at Best Label Co?
John Crammer: Expanded gamut (EG) printing is new and exciting, both in what it adds to graphic capabilities and the overall quality of print.
FLEXO: Best Label Co has carried FIRST Company Certification since 2012 and had a number of employees with FIRST Individual Certifications before that. Why did the company initially seek out FIRST Certification? What made you decide that printing to the numbers and statistical process control were essential?
John Crammer: That second question answers the first. Because statistical process control and printing to the numbers are essential, that is why we sought FIRST Certification. We felt the quality and depth of the FIRST program was the best route to achieving printing by the numbers.
FLEXO: Was FIRST Company Certification always Best Labe Co’s goal, or did the benefits seen from FIRST Individual Certifications lead to a desire to earn the company-wide certification?
John Crammer: FIRST Company Certification was a no-brainer once FIRST Individual Certifications were achieved. It is a natural progression as the work is already done. I don’t know why anyone would not take it to that level.
FLEXO: Before receiving FIRST Company Certification, Best Label Co underwent an on-site audit. How did that go? Did you learn anything from the audit?
Dan Crammer: The on-site audit was informative and educational. Good tools and suggestions were provided that helped increase the productivity within the plant. It helped solidify what we were already doing correctly, and helped to guide us in the right direction in areas that could use improvement.
FLEXO: What was the employee response to FIRST Company Certification? Was there any resistance to doing things differently or having to collect and submit the required weekly data for FTA’s review?
Dan Crammer: Employees enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about the trade they were already invested in. Once they saw how it was going to help eliminate so many headaches, they bought in, embraced it and enjoyed it.
FLEXO: How has FIRST Certification affected day-to-day activities at Best Label Co?
Dan Crammer: Our FIRST Company Certification has closed the loop between production and prepress. Through the education of FIRST and the FIRST methodology, there is now a better understanding of what each department does, why they do it and how they do it. This has closed the loop between the two departments and has helped each department better understand how important certain activities within their job duties are to each other. This has helped to make everyone more efficient across the board.
FLEXO: Do employees notice a change in what comes off presses?
Dan Crammer: Four-color process is now the pressman’s best friend. The guessing games that were played prior to FIRST and characterization are now gone. There’s a great sense of confidence in the pressmen that as long as they are following the correct workflow they will be able to achieve the color provided on the proofs. This has also brought out higher confidence levels from our sales force and customers.