Atlantic Label is a New Brunswick-based manufacturing company which supplies labels to both regional and national businesses for many years. This issue, The Canadian Business Journal catches up with President Tina Murphy, who talks about this small family business and teaches us a thing or two about the label-making industry.
Atlantic Label specializes in pressure-sensitive labels, which is the sticky variety that is pressed onto products. This can be for any product, from food and beverage packaging, to hospital products, to home or auto products—essentially anything that needs a ‘stick-on’ label. “These are pressure sensitive labels, which means you have to push on it to make it stick, it is not shrink wrapped or anything like that,” Murphy explains.
Atlantic Label has a manufacturing facility in Saint John, N.B., where it produces the labels for its vast roster of clientele. It prides itself on being flexible and able to offer a client whatever kind of job they need, big or small. “We do have a minimum quantity because we use about 100 feet of paper every time we set up a job, so the minimum job we would put on a press is 5,000 labels, but we have had orders for 2.5 million labels in one shot.”
Graphic design service
To make a label, one must have a printing plate designed specifically for that job or client. “One of the necessary evils of label printing is that you need printing plants,” Murphy explains. For this reason, Atlantic Label offers a free graphic design service for customers. There are of course many companies that design their own plates, but the option is available for those who need it—a major competitive advantage in the label industry. “I don’t know of any other company where you can get that,” says Murphy.
“We will take a concept and a client can tell us what they are looking for in terms of the look, the style, the information,” she elaborates. “From there, the client will okay everything with the plates and we ship their order.” The next time a customer returns for business, they do not have to pay for printing plates as Atlantic Label already has them ready. This marks a competitive advantage for repeat business, and many clients have rolling contracts for repeat business, saving them money. Atlantic Label prides itself on always having a satisfied customer.
Atlantic Label offers about 600 different sizes and shapes for its valued customers, and also is able to offer die cut labels. “We can do many different shapes through die cut,” says Murphy. “We have customers who get tombstone shapes; there are ovals, circles and rectangles.” She explains that if a customer is calling and looking for a label, there is always a way to accommodate those needs. “Well if I don’t have what a customer needs in terms of size or shape, I can always find a way to cut it and try to suggest something.”
It is this attention to customer service that has kept Atlantic Label strong through the years. Murphy relates an anecdote that exemplifies the ease at which Atlantic Label conducts business. For many years she was pitching business to Irving Lubricants, but the company dealt with a larger business in Ontario. After a mistake was made with a label and Irving Lubricants was dissatisfied with a product that was printed, Murphy was approached and provided this large company with a highly satisfactory product—securing regular future business from the positive experience.
Located in the same region, Atlantic Label offered Irving Lubricants the chance to review the plate in person before anything was made. “I gave management a chance to review it and make sure it was okay, doing a press proof,” Murphy said, explaining Atlantic Label welcoming business environment. “Now we are doing all of their newer labels.”
Atlantic Label has also benefitted from the value of the U.S. dollar, unlike many others. Many years ago, Murphy was given then choice to pay in U.S. dollars or in Canadian dollars (labels often list both American and Canadian price pints), and chose to keep things simple and pay in American dollars. Although this is something many businesses back away from, the choice has paid off now, and Atlantic Label been able to keep its prices competitive, even with the decline of the U.S. dollar.
For the future, Atlantic Label will consider entering the digital realm of label printing, but will consider the costs (for both themselves and their customers) as well. Murphy is also hopeful that the government in New Brunswick will start value-adding to manufacturing as they do for the natural resources, and offering more in the way of support to local businesses.
Atlantic Label will continue to press on for all of its future business.