Creative Labels of Vermont – Winooski, VT
Creative Labels of Vermont and HYBRID Software Forge Lasting Relationship
FLAG provides multiple forums for industry collaboration
Creative Labels of Vermont (CLOV) is a second-generation family-owned label printing company located in Winooski, Vermont. CLOV was founded in 1983 with three employees, a Vandenburg label press and a handmade screwdriver rewinder. Today over 30 employees service customers in food and beverage, wine, beer and spirits industries, printing labels up to 13” wide and 21” long.
They operate four conventional flexo presses and two HP Indigo WS6800 digital presses. Although CLOV’s prepress department was equipped with state-of-the-art technology from art editing workstations to platemaking, Dwane Wall, president of CLOV, knew something was missing from his workflow.
Approximately six years ago, Dwane reached the conclusion that there had to be a better way to deal with art files. He recalls that at that time “everyone would get a proof, FedEx that proof and handle it in a sneaker net type process. Everyone would name files differently and we would often print the wrong label.” Dwane perceived that the only way to be successful was to automate the process. He notes that “I knew there was a better way to do it. But I just didn’t know what it looked like.”
Fred & Dwane Wall – Creative Labels of Vermont
Mike Agness – Hybrid Software
Enter Mike Agness, Executive VP, Americas at HYBRID Software, who Dwane met at an industry event where he sketched out his vision on the back of a cocktail napkin. Dwane realized that with the growth of digital, and proliferation of SKUs, automation would play an even greater role in the coming years. Mike recalls that “Dwane really understood his business and wanted to stay in front of it. Unfortunately, not all converters are that proactive. He knew he would have more jobs coming in because of digital, but didn’t want to keep hiring prepress operators.”
From that initial meeting, Dwane and Mike sketched out a plan forward. Mike notes that HYBRID’s philosophy is to “right sell” — enabling customers to embrace a product and then move forward when the business is ready. Dwane describes the process as giving him the power to “inch worm his way along. Cash is finite so we appreciated the flexibility of doing one thing, figuring it out and then bringing on a new component.”
First CLOV installed PACKZ – a stand-alone software tool for PDF editing which put file editing and manipulation into operator hands. Unlike Adobe Illustrator, an application for label design, PACKZ prepares PDF files efficiently for print production.
Six months later came CLOUDFLOW with the Proofscope module. This package drove even greater efficiencies through his entire process by providing digital asset database management to ensure that his computer worked in sync with his MIS system. Additionally, he could now send customers a web link to view their label on any browser. Files now come in and are automatically pre-flighted and moved along. And everyone is always looking at the latest file tracked by the software.
Mike would love to have more customers like CLOV who truly embrace the technology and utilize all its potential capabilities. He credits Dwane with driving the need for change throughout his organization and notes “You really have to embrace change to become more efficient. Dwane got his customer service and prepress teams engaged which was critical. He gave reasons that change needed to happen and why they should believe.”
In order to maximize the HYBRID software, Dwane needed it to speak seamlessly with his Label Traxx MIS program. He used a FLAG event to broker a relationship between the two companies and convince Label Traxx that they should open up their program to another workflow supplier. As Dwane recalls, “I liked Hybrid’s business philosophy – they value their customers and appreciate our business. I’m a small business and I feel comfortable when I’m being treated openly, honestly and fairly. And to make the most out of HYBRID, I needed this collaborative problem solving to occur between the two companies.”
From this first meeting, a very positive relationship was born. Today the two companies talk openly, co-develop programs and bring new solutions to the label industry.
Spreading the Word via FLAG
Dwane Wall is a man known for honest opinions and he certainly doesn’t hold back when he believes in something. He’s used his positive experience with HYBRID to encourage other FLAG members to try the software. Mike acknowledges that “every time we saw Dwane talking to another owner at a FLAG event or a trade show and showing label art right on his phone that a sale wasn’t far behind!” Dwane suggests that he’s “probably sold more packages than some of their salespeople!”
HYBRID became a FLAG Vendor Partner approximately four years ago, and in that time has participated in all available in-person and virtual events, and hosted Lunch and Learns. As FLAG has grown to 100+ members, so has HYBRID’s customer base. FLAG customers who lease software from HYBRID see a big rebate in the first year. Mike notes that, “we cut sizable checks to FLAG customers — and always with a smile on our faces.” He acknowledges that FLAG has been a great investment for HYBRID as they don’t need to hire a national accounts salesperson, “FLAG gives us the introduction and gets us to the corner office much quicker. It’s a win, win, win organization.”His greatest personal lessons came from his time in the army when he learned that you should focus on “what you can fix – and not waste time on those things that you can’t.” This mental discipline has stayed with him throughout his successful career.
Dwane Wall – Creative Labels of Vermont
Dwane is also quick to sing the praises of FLAG. A ten-year Member, he notes that, “when we first became Members, John McKay had a good vision of what he thought he could build. What he’s actually doing today is extremely valuable for the industry as a whole. It offers a different level of camaraderie, multi-functional learning and fosters a sense of trust and collaboration.” Dwane participates in peer groups, attends all meetings, encourages his buyers to work with FLAG Vendor Partners and uses contingency backup as a sales tool for his bigger customers. He adds, “Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the rebates. A dollar is a dollar — but I put great value on everything else the group brings to me.”
“Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the rebates. A dollar is a dollar — but I put great value on everything else the group brings to me.”
– Dwane Wall, President of Creative Labels of Vermont