Six points constitute the plan: “Never settle for the status quo! Always look for the new big thing. Act once it’s identified. Maintain the search for the next innovation. Keep things exciting. Be creative, without incurring cost, wherever and whenever you can.”
Apply that thinking to a label shop and you’ll be following the course set by Quebec City-based Multi-Action Labels. Having just turned 25, the operation takes pride in its versatility; encourages its staff to be enthusiastic, vibrant and results-oriented; and exhibits a voracious appetite for automation and technology. Continuous improvement courses through each team member’s veins.
Charting a History
Derek Gobeil, general manager, relays the story behind the success. The printer, having doubled capacity twice in the past six years, is targeting a repeat of the feat, resolving to do so once again by the close of 2020. No one associated with the enterprise doubts it will.
With a recent (July 2017) acquisition complete—Sunwest Print Corp in Vancouver, British Columbia—and a second being pursued in the Toronto area, developments are fast-paced. Two identical new presses, Mark Andy P7s, are being brought on line—the one at the Quebec City location up and running; the one in Vancouver awaiting installation—and a state-of-the-art Enterprise Resource Planning System about to go live, exemplify the fact that Multi-Action Labels likes to keep things moving. Derek says it does just that, 24 hours a day.
Founded in 1993 by Jonathan Bourbonniere and jointly owned with his brother Anthony, the firm has progressed from bedroom to basement to garage to multiple plants encompassing more than 68,000 sq. ft. Labels are its lifeblood, but that, too, may be changing. “New presses mean new opportunities,” Derek explains. “New markets mean new customers.”
To that he adds, “Sunwest brought geographic diversity.” Similarly, “Building and moving into our new, vastly expanded Quebec City plant in 2016, proved critical to growth.” What was once a small adhesive and coating enterprise entered flexo printing sometime around 2006 and later evolved into digital and hybrid or multiprocess print. Today, the label focus is expanding into flexible packaging, shrink sleeves and other realms, according to Derek.
At present, the lion’s share of production in both factories—some 85 percent to 90 percent—comes from flexo, Derek reports. Equipment sales—printers, labelers, applicators, winders, software, etc.—account for some 3 percent to 5 percent and hybrid print, while growing, is still in its infancy and bringing in 5 percent to 6 percent of annual business volume.
“We are the only Canadian label company able to manufacture linerless labels,” he notes. “Between the U.S. and Canada, there are just three such firms. Things are starting to take off on that front. Being a growing market that is environmentally friendly, with 100 percent of finished product utilized, linerless labels—long popular in Europe—are being noticed in North America. Still a small portion of the business, linerless now stands as one of our fastest growing segments.”
Linerless labels are direct thermal blank labels printed at customer sites, Derek details. “In Europe, they are a far bigger thing than in North America. Preprinted linerless label is, however, fast becoming the talk of the industry. We have the ability to push it out. Acceptance will definitely come with time. It is where the market is going. Linerless labels entail adhesive coating. We can print facestock and transform it to linerless label, via our hybrid process. Digitally printed facestock runs through the flexo press for adhesive coating.”
New, New, New
New plants, new products, new ideas, new equipment, new efficiencies—when Derek stresses Multi-Action Labels focuses on the latest, most advanced technologies and current, up-to-the-minute thought processes, he emphasizes the point.
“We describe ourselves as a full offering company that is driven by innovation. Multi-Action Labels is always looking for the next great idea, new technology, new ways of doing things and new products to bring to market.”
The firm resolves to stay efficiency minded and competitively positioned, Derek observes. “Everybody needs to lower costs. Quality control is required by customers and markets. To be competitive, we find it essential to reduce waste, buy direct and make acquisitions that afford us an opportunity to assert bigger bargaining power.”