Powers Solutions, located in Spartanburg, SC, is a distributor of printing solutions with nearly 40 years of experience. Powers Solutions has a wide array of specialties, ranging from financial and business forms to commercial printing and labels. Powers Solutions is able to provide a wide range of clients with labeling solutions that best suit their business or manufacturing needs.
An automotive supplier client of Powers Solutions had a need for labeling and identification of floormats, where their current label and process was underperforming, resulting in inefficiencies and worker safety challenges. During a visit to the factory, Powers Solutions sales representative Chris Stacey saw the problem first-hand: the automotive supplier was manually sewing tags onto the car floormats, which was causing lost productivity and creating the potential for worker injuries. Stacey suggested he could provide an easier and more effective labeling solution, and asked his customer if he could research the application and provide a quote for an alternative labeling solution. The manufacturer agreed and was willing to test what Stacey brought to them.
Based on his prior experience with providing custom labeling solutions to his customers, Stacey knew that the labels would have to be durable enough to withstand the tough environment in which they would be used, but still easy enough to manipulate and apply so that the supplier could streamline their manufacturing processes. He also believed that if the quality of the label solution was high enough, the client would want to use it across all its products.
Stacey immediately anticipated a problem finding a label manufacturer that could supply the right kind of product for his client: “The more intricate the job, the less likely someone’s going to want to take it, because they don’t have the ability, or willingness to think outside the box, or to do something that’s out of the norm.” Finding a label provider that could solve this problem would be a challenge.
Powers Solutions also required a product that it could profitably resell to its client. This meant understanding the client’s total cost of ownership (TCO) for their current process – including the cost of the current hand-sewn label, labor costs, and costs associated with lost productivity. The custom label had to be developed and sold at a price point where the client would see a decrease in their overall TCO, and Powers could sell at an acceptable margin.
Powers Solutions and their customer had several requirements for the labels:
- Suitable materials for use in a rough environment
- Label adhesive that would simplify and accelerate the application process
- Honda-approved label supplier
- Ability to supply large volumes
- Supply at price Powers Solutions could resell profitably
Powers Solutions came to General Data for help in developing a label that met the unique requirements for this application. “We have used General Data for a lot of our other label options, and they were very versatile with the different types of equipment and labels they can produce. They were the first provider we called about this application, because we knew they would take on jobs that others wouldn’t,” Stacey said. “Their Research and Development lab creates a lot of versatility in the label applications they can produce, and if they couldn’t get it done, we knew no one else could,” Stacey added.
Stacey felt that the choice of material could present an especially difficult challenge, and he was concerned that most label suppliers would not be able to provide it. However, Stacey knew that General Data had relationships with many different specialty materials suppliers. Because of its advanced research, development and manufacturing capabilities, he felt General Data was the right supplier who could develop a label that would suit his customer’s needs.
Stacey called Clark Brown, his General Data account manager, to begin the process. “General Data took the time to look at what it would take to make it work,” he explains. Stacey provided General Data with a description of the application for the label to get things started.
“I’ve worked with Chris for some time now,” said Brown. “Chris and everyone at Powers Solutions really know how to engage with their customers and help them solve problems. Custom label applications like this are one of the things that General Data does best, so I was excited to get started.”
As he reviewed the requirements, Brown consulted with General Data’s Research and Product Development team. Together they identified the need for a patterned adhesive, which would solve the issue of excess adhesive when applied. This unique feature would require special label coating technology to create the adhesive necessary for the tag. “We’ve been successful developing labels for applications similar to this,” said John Finger, Vice-President of Research and Product Development at General Data. “We felt a unique tag material with a patterned adhesive would achieve what we wanted.”
Once the label concept was finalized, it was then passed to General Data’s Estimating department, whose role it is to source the best suppliers, availability and pricing for each of the components and order them so General Data’s Product Development and Manufacturing teams can create proof-of-concept test labels for the client.
In close collaboration with Brown and General Data’s Estimating department, Stacey had to make a difficult decision concerning the large minimum order requirements imposed by the raw material supplier for the label facestock. “The hardest part was getting the material,” Stacey said. He knew that his customer needed a solution to a specific problem, “but if [our choice] worked in every other capacity, it wouldn’t stop them from using it, so we gambled and ordered the minimum amount.” General Data’s excellent relationship with the material supplier ensured that the needed sample material came within a reasonable amount of time.
The project was then passed to the Product Development and Manufacturing teams who worked to create a CAD drawing illustrating the proper design and adhesive pattern. The Estimating Department then reviewed the CAD in order to provide a proper quote for Powers Solutions. Once Stacey approved the design, the manufacturing of the first test samples began.
“The manufacturing process of this tag was tricky,” says General Data VP of Manufacturing, Dave Laurash. “The adhesive was only on one portion of the tag, and that caused the roll to be uneven during the winding process. But we have good experience with these types of production runs, and we were able to provide sample rolls for the customer to test.”
The customer testing process provided more insight into the particular requirements for this unique label. “Through testing, we realized that the adhesive pattern needed to be adjusted. I gave the measurements to Clark,” says Stacey. General Data modified the label design to fit the new measurements and produced a new sample roll.
The final product was a perfect solution, and Powers Solutions immediately received a substantial order for this new tag. With this new solution created by General Data, the customer’s problems were solved, helping them improve efficiency, label placement accuracy and worker safety. The potential for workplace injuries was reduced, and productivity within this sector of the plant increased.
With this specialized label application, Powers Solutions was able to further establish itself as an expert resource and premium partner providing specialized, unique labels and tags. “After unveiling this label to the end user, we have seen a 70% increase in label business with this client because of the confidence they have in our company now,” says Stacey.
Powers Solutions now provides this tag for three of the most popular vehicle models for this automotive manufacturer, including 80% of the floormat tags in the best selling model. They originally only used these tags in a plant in Alabama, but they are now being used in several other states and will soon be introduced in a plant in Mexico as well. Stacey says: “Our long-standing relationship with the end user, along with General Data’s knowledge and experience, has created a strong partnership that will hopefully lead to more label opportunities with this client in the future.”
General Data’s proactive customer service, along with its unique development and manufacturing capabilities, are some of the reasons why Stacey and Powers Solutions trust GDC for their custom labeling needs. As a General Data Channel Partner, Powers Solutions is able to sell custom products with a higher profit margin, and increase their overall business with both existing and new customers.