These similarities were found in the FTA members’ business practices, ethics, quality expectations, production capabilities, direction—even the colors in their logos. As a result, CSW Inc, based in the US, and Marvaco, based in Finland, began to share technological strategies and expertise, talk about joint purchasing, marketing and sales, and discuss bringing other companies into a group to further expand resources.
Two years later, CSW was presented with the challenge to provide prepress on a global scale. It was then the plan to expand this burgeoning premedia network and formalize its structure was put in action. The Global Premedia Network (GPN), an alliance of fully independent but technologically connected and compatible packaging premedia providers, was officially formed.
“What do you do when you’re a mid-sized prepress company with a few locations in the US and a large brand owner gives you notice that within the year, they will be purchasing from only global companies?” asks Laura Wright, CEO of CSW Inc. “You find a creative way to be global, a better way to be global, and you have a great time doing it.”
Members & Standards
GPN members are required to maintain the highest level of quality, business ethics, operational and ecological practices based on international standards. There are currently 10 partner companies in the GPN, allowing extension of its premedia service coverage to all continents, except Antarctica.
“They are technical leaders who are passionate and committed to providing the most efficient, cost-effective and comprehensive solutions for their clients, regardless of where in the world they are procuring packaging,” says Wright. “Their mission is to offer brand owners an alternative option for managing and procuring high-quality and consistent packaging premedia services around the world. All members are privately owned. Many are family businesses with rich histories, outstanding reputations and an ability to adapt quickly.”
Every member has had to qualify technically, proving the ability to produce high-quality plates with up-to-date equipment and communicate seamlessly. Several organizations were asked to work with their local suppliers to improve their capabilities before being accepted. With consistency of plate performance and print results being one of the main objectives of the network, Wright notes this was an absolute necessity.
Combined, GPN members serve more than 10,000 local and international fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies and converters annually, employ thousands of subject matter experts (SMEs) at more than 30 production facilities and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity worldwide.
“Together, the members will have more resources than some of the largest prepress companies in the world,” Wright points out.
All network members aim to establish a mutually beneficial collaboration in order to help brand owners maximize shelf impact, improve visual consistency and dramatically shorten time to market. Technological synergy, strategic locations, complementary knowledge and in-depth relationships with local packaging converters help brand owners to achieve sales and marketing goals on a truly global level with locally rooted representation.
“Brand owners may do business with one or several members of the network to take advantage of its services,” explains Wright. “Members working with specific FMCGs will do the electronic prepress, preparing files for output, which will be sent to a member facility local to the printer for production of printing plates.”
Although the GPN has only existed for a few months, it has already contributed in many ways to CSW, says Wright. The company is currently in the process of upgrading the plate making equipment in its Massachusetts facility, adding plate making capability and capacity in its Ohio location, and putting together plans for its fourth production facility. All of these projects require extensive and expensive equipment purchases.
“We have been able to ask the advice of our network partners about specific pieces of equipment and processes, which has helped us to be able to identify incidental costs, ask better questions of our suppliers and ultimately get the right equipment that will meet our customers’ needs. The feedback we get is unbiased and honest. We are also sharing information about suppliers and working together to find the best materials.”
In the face of varying time zones, the group uses a web portal to communicate on a regular basis. “There have been some lively discussions, many amusing comments and lots of great information shared via this communication tool,” says Wright. “It has helped to bond the group, which is an important factor in its success and continuity.”
In addition to CSW and Marvaco, several members of the GPN are also FTA members, including Fotograbados Longo of Argentina. COE and U. Günther of Germany are members of the German FTA. “There is no doubt the organization will help to further advance prepress results and the flexographic industry in general,” comments Wright. “Brand owners looking for consistent results around the globe will be assured of results under the supervision of local prepress companies who speak the language, know the converters and have the capability. This is a win-win for everyone involved.”
One example of how the GPN has worked to enhance brand image? Joint proposals from member companies to FMCGs have been submitted. “We are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to enhance print results and consistency, seamlessly and with ease around the world,” says Wright.
Last month, the network had its first online meeting, the main purpose of which was to introduce each of the members, discuss unique capabilities, set expectation and discuss opportunities together.
The GPN is planning additional significant partnerships to further expand its geographical coverage in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The goal is to have these companies on board prior to the GPN’s first in-person meeting at drupa next year.