IN-HOUSE LAMINATION THE KEY TO SUCCESS
Any converter buying $2-$3 million dollars of laminated product can put an extra $600,000 to $900,000 on his bottom line by making his own laminate,’ says Craig Daniell, president, Primador Group, Mississauga, Canada.
Craig Daniell bases this assertion on his own experience at Primador, founded in 1981 as a traditional label converter and supplier. It didn’t take him long to realize that there were some 3,000 label converters in the business who were being supplied with laminates by only five or six major laminators.
‘We decided then to make our own laminates and become suppliers to the label converting industry,’ said Daniell, ‘so we had our own first laminator designed, built, and installed, and by late 1985 we were up and running, producing our first commercial product.’
Since building that first laminator, the company has produced about 10 others, a number of which are operating in other Pridamor plants. They are presently negotiating to build machines for a company in China, and today can produce coater/laminators for less cost than a flexo press. Daniell adds that ‘Silicone and adhesive coating is a lot easier to accomplish than most printers realize.’
Producing their own laminator and reaping the rewards in savings started Daniell wondering why all converters couldn’t do the same, and whether Primador could help them do it.
As a result of that idea, Primador now does business in three areas: they are a label converter, a self adhesive roll laminate supplier, and a supplier of coaters, laminators and slitters. Along with its products and equipment, the company also makes its adhesive and water-based silicone technology available to the industry.
Primador is organized around three main divisions. They supply laminates to other label converters through Canada Coatings and Laminations Division in Canada and the Enviro-Cote Division in the USA. The firm supplies labels and other media products through its Label Tech Divisions in Canada and Darcy Label in the United States. They also provide coater and laminator turnkey coating operations, as well as rewind slitters, to label converters who wish to make their own laminated.
To produce its coaters and laminators, Primador subcontracts major components and subassemblies and then assembles them on the customer’s floor. They build coaters for producing silicone-coat liners and adhesive laminates. ‘The latter is most important and is the technology we have to share with the industry,’ Daniell emphasized.
Adhesive supplier critical
To produce a quality self adhesive laminate consistently, the choice of adhesive suppliers is critical. ‘We have been very fortunate in the selection of our adhesive supplier,’ said Daniell. ‘It was not just a matter of selecting a company that makes glue; it required one that would grow with us…one that we could feel comfortable with. We found those qualities in National Starch and Chemical Company and their Canadian subsidiary, NACAN Products Limited. Working with them allows us to concentrate our developments and work through one office.’
According to Primador’s vice president, Ted Russchen, National is the only company they found that they could rely on to give them the support they needed. ‘We can get on the phone to them any time we are working on an application. We work together on testing and are delighted with the response we receive. We can always talk to their technical sales people, and are happy with the support mechanism that is set up to help us.’
Primador presently uses three NACOR acrylic emulsion adhesives that were specifically formulated for them by National. A permanent NACOR adhesive, and a removable adhesive are used for prime labels. As well, a third NACOR product is used on pressure-sensitive laminates produced for the frozen food industry. They have also been impressed with, and are evaluating, National’s styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) products which have high performance with good freezer characteristics.
According to Daniell, the matching of silicone with the correct NACOR adhesive has been the key to producing their self adhesive laminates. ‘What we like about National Starch’s adhesives is that they process so well on our laminators and die-cutting and stripping equipment. Also, we have had virtually no complaints from the field on adhesive performance.’
Primador coats a variety of substrates and supplies a complete line of self adhesive laminates, including gloss face paper, EDP papers, and opaque and transparent film. They also custom coat for a number of companies.
The coating process begins as the NACOR adhesive is applied to silicone-coated release liner. The coated stock then passes through a gas-fired tunnel oven. Following the drying cycle, the release liner emerges coated with a dry film of adhesive. The liner then passes through a nip-coated onto the face stock. Finally, it is wound into master rolls and later cut to press size on a slitter, and sent either to internal label presses or other converter customers.
Primador has an advantage over some other converters with its ability to print in-house. They have gained an excellent reputation for high quality printing with extremely competitive pricing because of their integrated abilities. In 1986, the company had only two presses. They now have grown, with the recent acquisition of more 10 inch flexo presses, to approximately 35 printing presses in three locations. Their array of equipment includes Mark Andys, Webtrons, Ko-paks and AquaFlex presses.
All of Primador’s plants have a complete printing plate making facility. The Akron Ohio plant functions as a centralized art department. Here they do all of their own art work and film work which can then be sent to the other plants by courier pack, or accessed by modem.
Another advantage Primador has lies in their sophisticated computerized interactive order entry tracking system. Their sales representatives can enter and monitor orders from laptop computers, from off-site locations, any time of the day or night. Plans are underway to install terminals in some large customer offices so the customer can change delivery dates or make other notes directly onto the order dockets.
Primador’s sales organization includes a full staff who cover Western Canada, Vancouver, and the Toronto area. The Akron facility has its own direct sales force and also markets products through independent representatives.
‘Our total employment is presently approaching 200. All of our plants are running three shifts, and when our present expansion is complete in 1995, we will occupy 130,000 sq ft in three locations. We are currently expanding all of our existing plants, as well as planning to open two new facilities in the next 24 months,’ said Daniell.
‘Our growth has been around 700 per cent since we started coating. In the last 24 months, we have had excellent growth. This year’s forecast, without acquisitions and possible new ventures, is for 30 per cent growth. We look for future expansion into Europe and are presently negotiating with Australia.
‘We supply laminates, but most important, we supply the technology and equipment to other converters for them to make their own laminates. I visualize developing a separate company just for the manufacture of coaters and the installation of technology into other label converters’ plants. After all, there is no greater opportunity for a label converter to reduce costs than to cut the cost of his materials, which are about 80 per cent of his manufacturing costs. When enough label converters accept this premise, what we will have here is a paradigm shift that will change the way this industry operates,’ Daniell concluded.