Artex Label: Close relationships, exceptional service and embracing craft culture are hallmarks of this Michigan label manufacturer.

Author:Katz, Steve
Position:NARROW WEB Profile

Artex Label & Graphics 740 Case Karsten Dr., Zeeland, Ml, USA 49464

Though Artex Label was founded in 1999, its history dates back more than 50 years ago. Founded as the in-house printing division of Michigan-based Batts, one of the nation's largest wooden clothing hanger manufacturers, the company had a single standalone label press--a robust workhorse with five color stations and print speeds exceeding 200 fpm--a remarkable feat at the time.

As the business grew, so too did its number of presses. A second, larger press was added that provided Batts with not only a competitive edge but also a means to break into other label markets.

In the late 1990s, Batts sold its wood hanger division to a competitor. Terry Gruppen, Batts' multi-plant manager at the time, was given the opportunity to purchase the company's printing assets. Driven by an entrepreneurial spirit and the desire to grow a business, Gruppen started Artex Label with the Batts equipment--most of the original Batts crew stayed on board. Right away, the newly-formed Artex Label expanded its offerings beyond hanger labels, moving into labels for markets such as food and beverage, cleaning products and industrial labels, educational and promotional stickers, pharmaceuticals and more.

Growth came slowly but surely, and Artex moved from its original location near downtown Zeeland, into its current 30,000 square foot facility, also In Zeeland. The move put the presses all on the same floor, streamlined production and nearly doubled the size of the company. Today, there are 35 employees working together to market and manufacture all kinds of labels, with Artex retaining nearly 95% of their clientele over the last 20 years. Phil Treadway, Artex Label's office and project manager, says, "True to our roots, you can still find boxes of clothes hanger labels going out with the rest of our shipments. After all, when you've built a reputation on something, people are going to expect it."


Artex experienced a period of significant growth in the early 2000s, a time when the label industry was in the early stages of its shift toward digital printing.

"We saw digital printing as a 'must have' in an industry that was quickly changing," recalls Treadway. "Dynamic growth with variable data, high SKU count and low quantities drove us to seek out options using this new technology. The first few machines were limited in their capabilities and the output was slow--but they launched us into many new playing fields."

The company is now on its third digital press--an EFI Jetrion 4900 with inline laser finishing, a technology that Treadway describes as a "game-changer." He adds...

To continue reading