Multicolor digital press gives Quebec label producer a colorful competitive edge in a tough marketplace
Razor-thin profit margins are nothing new in the notoriously competitive label industry, but some companies manage to deal with them better than others by consistently offering excellent pricing, high-quality labels and the latest, cutting-edge printing technologies.
Specifically, companies like Ste-Julie, Que.-based Imprimerie Saint-Julie Inc.—a successful, family-operated label supplier employing 85 people at two label converting facilities specializing in flexographic and digital printing processes.
“We produce about 50 per cent of our labels on digital presses and 50 per cent on flexographic presses,” states Imprimerie’s vice-president of sales Caroline Fournier, who runs the company’s day-to-day operations along with her sister Marilène Fournier, serving as vice-president of production.
“We can also do hot-stamping, embossing, laser die-cutting and silkscreening to create labels and pouches for many different markets like the food, cosmetic, pharmaceutical, industrial and supplemental foods segments,” she adds, relating the uplifting story of a company founded by their father Jean-Maurice Fournier back in 1975.
“When our father began this business, it was run out of our family home,” Caroline told Canadian Packaging magazine in a recent interview. “We’ve been operating out Ste-Julie since 1986, at the time specializing exclusively in flexographic printing primarily for the food and industrial markets.”
But as industry requirements and printing technologies continued to evolve year after year, she relates, the company found itself integrating new converting and finishing processes into its operations in order to grow its customer base—ultimately expanding into digital label printing.
In fact, Caroline notes with considerable pride that Imprimerie was in fact the first labeling company in North America to have purchased an early-generation Indigo Omnius digital press from Hewlett-Packard (HP) back in 1998.
According to Caroline, the Indigo Omnius press delivered such excellent results and performance that the company had no hesitation in purchasing two more digital HP presses a few years later,, including a model Indigo WS 4000 in 2002 and an Indigo WS 4050 system in 2004.
In 2007, Imprimerie boosted its digital printing capabilities further by investing in a new laser die-cutter—manufactured by Cartes S.r.l.—and advanced direct-to-plate and prepress workflow technologies.
Says Caroline: “Our father realized that keeping a customer happy was very important in this and any business, and so he instilled in us the notion that having great equipment will show a customer that we are committed to keeping them ahead of the competition.”
Carrying on in that proud family tradition, last year the company purchased a new-generation digital Galaxie press from SMAG Graphique, which Caroline says underlines its status as an important player in Canada’s label printing industry—a fact reinforced by the company’s growing client base not only in Quebec, but also in Ontario and British Columbia.
“The majority of our customers are involved in the advertising, supplements, food, cosmetics and wine segments,” mentions Caroline.
According to Caroline, the company’s growth in these markets is based on the underlying principle and premise of keeping things simple for its end-use customers, who are typically much more concerned with the quality of the final product rather than the process for making it.
“As a family run business, it is important for Imprimerie Ste-Julie to keep things simple,” offers Caroline. “When we work with a customer, we don’t merely look for the easy solution.