SEEKING SUPPLIERS WILL TRAVEL
In several month time, an estimated 20,000 visitors will be walking the aisles of the world’s premier label show. On October 13-16 members from all segments of the label printing industry will be convening at the Parc des Expositions in Brussels to witness the future of an industry that has been driven by double-digit growth percentages per annum over the course of the past decade. Already 95 per cent sold out, Labelexpo Europe will attract visitors from more than 75 countries around the globe; qualified buyers who have marked their calendars well in advance for four days of viewing those technological advancements that will carry the industry into the new millennium.
How can American label manufacturers and label converters benefit from Labelexpo Europe? Labels & Labelling North America polled a key group of North American equipment manufacturers and label printers to ascertain why attending Labelexpo Europe is beneficial to American companies. We wanted to find out how exhibiting in Brussels affects the bottom line of North American suppliers. We also wanted to know what an American label printer might get from attending Labelexpo Brussels, when every other year.
Chicago boasts its own Labelexpo USA. Those North American label converters we spoke with agreed on one critical element of Labelexpo Europe. These label printers all commented on Europe’s unique sense of entrepreneurism, and that there are entrepreneurial manufacturers in Europe who might not yet have the capital to devote toward taking out a booth at Labelexpo USA, however who have, given the unique production requirements of the European marketplace, equipment that is well-suited to the changing operational needs of the North American converter. Leading-edge equipment, that some of these companies claim, is nonexistent from North American suppliers. These printers commented that they often find European manufacturers at the show who are just beginning to explore how they’re going to market and sell their products.
Benny Lilienthal, a senior production engineer at New Jersey-based Sancoa International, has attended every Labelexpo Europe, as a company might find just the product they’re looking for. He comments, ‘Several years ago I was looking for a high quality proofing system for letterpress. I knew that most American converters were using the same system, however I thought I might be able to find something in Brussels that fit our needs better. [Amsterdam-based] IGT had taken out a small booth for the first time, and they had the exact system we needed’.
The label converters we spoke to commented that there were certain types of equipment manufactured in Europe, that a company would not be able to obtain from an American manufacturer. Given that European run sizes are significantly smaller on average than those in the United States, European manufacturers have customized some of their systems to seal specifically with this increasing production requirement.
Stephen Krogulski, senior vice president of the Tarsus Group in Chicago and Show manager of Labelexpo USA, feels increasing numbers of American converters are travelling to Brussels for a variety of reasons. He states, ‘Labelexpo events are always a platform for new product introductions, and the European press manufacturers introduce their newest system innovations in Brussels. Some of these companies are global leaders in integration technology, and label converters want to witness the unveiling of this technology real-time’.
What do North American suppliers who exhibit at Labelexpo Europe have to say about the show? We have compiled commentary from some of North America’s leading manufacturers who will be exhibiting at this year’s show, including the reasons why this event is integral to their continuing global success as industry suppliers.
John Thome, director of Sales and Marketing at Fusion Aetek UV Systems gave the following summary of his company’s approach to exhibiting at LabelExpo shows in both North America and in Europe for some very sound reasons: both shows draw the audience we desire, they are of a reasonable duration – which means every day brings a continuous stream of prospective customers, and the people who come to this show actually make purchases.
‘We feel the show allows us to reach narrow web label converters looking for ways to add value and differentiate their products by utilizing a whole variety of UV curable products. This show allows us to reach the retrofit market. At the same time, because Fusion Aetek is the primary UV supplier to narrow web printing press manufacturers, the show also allow us to support our OEM customers who participate.
The investment we make in the show is indeed significant in terms of space, booth, people and pre-show promotions, but we feel the investment is justified by the traffic and the results it produces. Europe is very much a growth market for us, particularly Germany, France and the United Kingdom.
‘The use of UV Flexo is pretty much the standard in Europe, versus conventional Flexo (usually water based) here in the states. As a result, the European market offers a significant opportunity for us. We market Fusion brand microwave curing technology across Europe for industrial applications of all kinds’.
‘This show allows us to spotlight our Fusion Aetek arc lamp technology, which is the predominant UV technology used on narrow web label presses of all types’.
We have an entire sales and service network in place to support our European customers. This includes offices in England, Germany, France, Italy and Denmark. These offices provide local service and sales support. In England we also have a full process test laboratory and a chemist on staff to serve all our European customers. We also provide custom design and engineering from this office.
‘At LabelExpo 1999 we will be showing both air and water cooled UV curing systems. Highlighted will be our UltraPak UV curing system, which is ideal for heat sensitive substrates and features dichroik reflectors and quartz filters for ‘the coolest of cool UV’.
While many of the major press manufacturers have headquarters in Europe, a number of the American-based players make the trip.
According to Chris Faust, marketing manager at Comco International: ‘We exhibit at both Labelexpo Chicago and Brussels due to the ever changing market needs both in North America and Europe. Each market is evolving at such a rapid pace that we need to be constantly changing and improving our equipment and showcasing these developments to the market as well’.
‘Comco has exhibited at previous shows in Brussels and will continue to do so in the future. All Labelexpo shows have been cost justified for Comco by the quantity of people, as well as the quality of attendees.
We believe that flexography has a strong growth potential in the European market. We work through many agents and distributors in addition to the newly opened Comco Printing International (CPI) which has its headquarters in Kradolf, Switzerland.
‘CPI will provide sales and service as well as print demonstrations out of this facility for the European market’.
Mitch Dudek, director of sales at Propheteer, explains that: ‘Propheteer has traditionally exhibited at Labelexpo Europe. This is an international exhibition and it supports the activities of our distributors worldwide’.
‘The investment by Propheteer at Labelexpo Europe has been justified. It supports the activities of our agents worldwide, we have sold presses at the show, and have received positive feedback to improvements with the Propheteer press and the introduction of new products. The European market is growing for Propheteer. Eastern Europe has been very receptive to the product offering of Propheteer, but this is not to exclude the remainder of Europe. Propheteer will introduce an Ultra press at Labelexpo Brussels. It is a dedicated U.V. flexo press equipped for combination printing with two rotary screen units and rotary hot stamp’.
Another major American press manufacturer, Mark Andy, consider Europe to be their second most important market.
According to, Line Maisonneuve, the company’s marketing manager: ‘We have been exhibiting at Labelexpo since the beginning. There is no other way to achieve so much exposure in so little time. Labelexpo is the only show that is totally focused on our industry, and that is what makes it so successful for us. We know that every attendee is a member of our industry and a vast majority of them are actual or potential customers. We do participate in other shows, but the return we get from Labelexpo is far superior compared to any of them. There is no doubt in my mind that the investment is justified. As Europeans are converting from letterpress to flexo, we are experiencing a lot of growth.
‘In 1986, we created our first European company, Mark Andy AG. Basedin Switzerland, Mark Andy AG has been covering sales and support for all of Continental Europe. Five years ago, we opened our second European company, Mark Andy UK, and this year, we are proud to have announced the opening of our third European company, Mark Andy France.
‘We believe that Labelexpo is an excellent platform to launch new products and/or service. At Labelexpo Brussels, we will be introducing our new Film Press that will print on .001 mil OPP unsupported film. Along with our board press, this film press is the newest member of our product family’.
Steve Paynter, Harper Corporation’s International sales manager, feels that if you really want to be a player in Europe, you have to be present and supportive of European converters’ activities.
‘Labelexpo USA is a very important event for Harper, but it does not answer the needs of the European label market nearly as well as the Brussels show does. Last year’s participation in Labelexpo Europe was really our first exposure to the European label market. It was our introduction to the market and as a result we have begun to be players there.
Steve Nimz, sales & marketing manager, at Van Leer Flexibles, adds: ‘We now have a tag and label marketing and manufacturing presence in Europe, so this show is a logical extension of Labelexpo USA.
‘In addition to reaching a wider prospect base (than those Europeans who attend Labelexpo USA), we have found we also reach prospects from Africa, South America, Australia/New Zealand and Asia. We are seeing [European] tag and label growth rates well above industry levels and this trend should continue for the foreseeable future’.
Keith Lane, the sales & marketing director for Primarc UV Technology, commented that as a leading UV lamp manufacturer in the label market ‘it is essential for the company to be present at this important event in the label industry calendar. The Brussels show will give Primarc the opportunity to make direct contact with customers in the international market’.
He adds that Primarc will present a new addition to their range, an electrodeless microwave bulb.
One company who can really claim to be on the spot, when it comes to Brussels, is Labelmate USA. They have established their branch office in the city.
According to Terry Zimmerman, the company’s president, they will be demonstrating their new S-500 wide Label Slitter/Rewinder operating together with the new CAT-16 16 inch wide Heavy Duty Label Rewinder/Unwinder to form a complete off-line high-speed slitting/rewind station.
Many American suppliers have obviously found the European show to be worthwhile. Kristen Shields De Noble for example, who is a marketing manager for Graymills Corporation, stated that the this will be the company’s third time as an exhibitor.
‘We went to the Brussels show the first time to test the waters. We found it very worthwhile and expanded the size of our stand. The label market is international. To be effective, especially in serving multinational companies and our many OEM press manufacturing partners, Graymills must market worldwide. But, the label market is also comprised of a lot of small to medium size companies who will not travel to the U.S to attend a show, but they will go to Brussels. We find printers in most [European] countries to be very progressive, and therefore our ink pumps, filters and viscosity controls sell very well.
‘I believe the progressive nature of label printers originates from a desire to stay ahead of their customers, who keep increasing their printing and label converting demands, particularly in the areas of quality an cost. The attendance at LabelExpo Brussels is a clear indication that printers find the show worthwhile.’