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The Importance of Vendor Relationships

Businesses can’t do business without doing business! Let that one sink in for a moment. In order to produce your product or perform your services, you have to rely on multiple businesses, suppliers, and vendors to get the job done. Companies involved in manufacturing have to deal with a wide variety of vendors to make their products or goods. In today’s marketplace, the kind of relationship you have with your vendors is critical due to supply chain disruptions, logistics, and labor issues, not to mention the rate of inflation.

One of Century Printing and Packaging’s oldest vendors is Wilson Manufacturing. Wilson makes rotary tooling in hard, solid, and engraved dies, anvils, and print cylinders as well as flexible tooling (magnetic dies). Flexible tooling provided by Wilson is ideal for printing pressure-sensitive labels of different shapes and forms. We sat down with Kevin Harfst, Southeast Territory Sales Representative at Wilson to discuss their products, work, and relationship with Century.

Tell us about Wilson Manufacturing

Our start is similar to Century’s but we are a little older. We started in the mid-70s in a garage. Mr. Wilson had left a big company that made presses that did both printing and die-cutting. He saw the potential for more tooling and started his own company. Since those days we’ve grown into about a $20M company. Most of our growth has occurred in the last 20 years as we discovered some cutting-edge technology with machine sharpened tooling.

Why was that so important?

Once we were able to machine sharpen these dies that had historically been hand sharpened, which is exactly what it sounds like. Guys would sit around and look through a jeweler’s loop and have these dies that would sit on a jig in front of them and they sharpened the blades by hand using different types of scraping tools. Machine sharpening is much faster and the quality is second to none compared to hand sharpening.

Describe Wilson’s relationship with Century?

Century and Wilson have been working together for at least 20+ years. Over the years they have dealt with different people at Wilson and they have been there every step of the way as we have grown and watched them grow as well. I got involved with them about five years ago as I moved from our west coast territory to the southeast region where most of my family is located. They are definitely the gold standard for customers from the point of communicating, and understanding exactly what they need and their work. The needs we are able to service for them and what they come to us for we’re able to hit that on the head 100% virtually every time. We have bigger clients, but they have been so consistent from year to year and the growth they’ve had has definitely kept them in a higher customer weight class.

What do you think about Century entering its 25th year?

The growth of Century Printing and Packaging over the past 20 years is something that we have paid close attention to and they have certainly helped us grow as well. As they have embraced and invested in cutting-edge technology so have we. They were one of the first printing companies to start doing magnetic dies and cylinders. And just recently they are the first in the U.S. to invest in a brand new hybrid printing platform.

How did Covid affect your business?

We have not been as challenged to the extent that the printing companies and label companies have been securing materials with supply chain issues and material shortages. 80% of our steel is made in the U.S. so we have not had an issue getting our raw materials, but it’s only a matter of time as the inventory of steel in the United States is predicted to come down. Covid really affected us in a different way. Because many of our customers are in different parts of the country their businesses were closed at the height of the pandemic. Now everywhere is pretty open and going.

Describe your role at Wilson

Primarily sales, but I do more than quoting and order-taking because I have a technical background and I’ve been doing this since 1996. I like to get out and get into the companies that I call on to see their production and talk to their production team to go over various tricks of the trade that we can help them with to make their product run better and help their press operators feel more at ease. I also get involved with the crew that does the estimating and purchasing so they can use some of our benefits like our web services that can help them in ordering or getting information on a specific product.

What is a trend in your industry?

Adjustable anvils are big. It is tied in with the problems customers are having with getting their materials. All of these materials they run through their presses get die cut from the top, but these rolls of material go over what is called an anvil. You have a male-female setup in the die station with the die top-cutting and the anvil being the surface below that the die cuts against. What we’re seeing is that the materials have such a variation amongst the liners so by creating an adjustable anvil we can accommodate the variations in the different liners.

At Team Century you hear a lot about the importance of relationships with customers and vendors can you address that?

What Century is doing is custom printing and die-cutting. They aren’t servicing a blank label market, or a generic product where someone calls in and they have an inventory of what they need. It is total custom printing from the artwork down to the shapes they cut. By being able to build a customer-vendor relationship from the standpoint that Century and Wilson have it works out very well if you can trust each other. And know that each can take care of needs as they arise because every die that comes along on our end is different and a lot of the materials they may cut are different from time to time. They may have a dozen standard materials, but they branch into different laminates, varnishes, liners, and substrates. So having a proven relationship built on trust with someone you know is going to be able to deliver specifically what you need is critical. It’s a win-win!

Century Printing and Packaging is an ISO 9001:2015 certified company located in Greer, South Carolina. Flexographic, roll stock film, flexible packaging, digital printing, nutraceutical, food, and craft beer labels are among our extensive print products and technologies. We are family-owned and operated. Call us today about all of your printing or packaging needs. Our southeast location allows us to have a two-day shipping point via FedEx or UPS ground to 80% of the U.S population and we can expedite as necessary.

Ben Waldrop
President
Century Printing & Packaging
Greer, SC 29651
800.344.7509

Ben Waldrophttps://cpandp.com
Custom label printer in Greenville County, South Carolina.

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