PLYMOUTH, MA—Flexo Concepts recently celebrated three decades of success as a leading global doctor blade manufacturer. The company treated its local business partners to a tour of its manufacturing facility followed by a sunset cruise on historic Plymouth Harbor aboard the Pilgrim Belle, with employees and their families.
Thirty years ago, Flexo Concepts was established to help design a doctor blade for box makers. Since then, the company has grown to serve the tag and label, flexible packaging and many other printing markets worldwide. Its TruPoint Orange, TruPoint Green and TruPoint DuraPoint doctor blades are among its most renowned products.
In 2001, Flexo Concepts was acquired by Kevin McLaughlin, who added his longtime friend and industry colleague Greg Howell as partner shortly thereafter. They acquired the MicroClean anilox cleaning equipment business in 2006 and moved to a larger facility in 2010. The company undertook a complete rebranding and website redesign project in 2015 and finished installing a state-of-the-art Doctor Blade Innovation Lab in 2016. In 2018, Flexo Concepts received recognition for its commitment to exports, accepting two prestigious awards, one of which was at the national level.
“I would say I am most proud of the team we have at Flexo Concepts and the work they do,” said Howell. “Across all departments our employees are smart, hardworking and enjoy taking on new challenges. So, we’ve got a lot to celebrate at our 30-year mark.”
Howell attributes the company’s ability to attract and retain great people to a corporate culture that values individual contributions, collaboration and a work environment that is meaningful and fun. Employees enjoy potluck lunches, annual bowling tournaments and Halloween parties, summer BBQs, holiday parties, pedometer challenges and even a rotating “bring your dog to work” day—all planned by the company’s Employee Involvement Committee, which meets regularly. Employees embrace community service projects throughout the year to collect food, coats and holiday gifts for local disadvantaged residents.
Flexo Concepts invests heavily in workplace training and tuition reimbursement to help people develop their skills and professional interests. Many employees have been promoted or have opted to move to different departments to try something new. The company also offers a fully paid sabbatical plus bonus after 10 years of service where long-time employees are given the opportunity to pursue personal goals or indulge in favorite pastimes for a month. So far, four employees have achieved this milestone and enjoyed their time off.
Expanding the business overseas has been one the company’s “biggest tests,” said Howell. The company reports it has grown exports from 17 percent in 1991 to over 40 percent today, selling its products in over 50 countries. “Logistics, shipping, exchange rates, foreign taxes and managing remote resellers and salespeople are only a few of the complexities we face when selling abroad.”
“I think the issues we have met with along the way are similar to those faced by many business owners,” Howell also acknowledged. “The company has experienced top-line growth for 29 straight years, and managing staffing levels, upgrading software systems and undergoing multiple relocations to larger facilities have kept us busy.”
With regard to future plans for the company, McLaughlin commented, “We are always trying to create new products, make our existing products better and search for new opportunities as an organization. Right now, we are exploring applications for our blades outside of the printing industry.”
The business partners credit the company’s success to a combination of its robust engineering team, comprehensive production facility and customer-focused “smarketing” (sales and marketing) culture, and they eagerly anticipate the next leg of their journey.