Among consumers in the USA, probably no one outside of New Albany, IN, knows about Discount Labels. Yet the products produced by this 40 year old company are used and touched by millions of people every day. To the average person on the street, Discount Labels Inc. doesn't exist. But to the thousands of label distributors and retail operations on the customer list, the company is a profitable source of labels of all kinds, of high quality and timely delivery.
Discount Labels is big. At the beginning of the 1990s sales were at about $20 million, and by the end of that decade were greater than $50 million. Last year the company's revenue from sales was around $76 million. Discount Labels today is but a part of a much larger company--Cenveo, the new incarnation of what once was known as Mail-Well. Cenveo is a public company that engages in general commercial printing, high impact premium printing, custom and stock envelopes, printed business forms and labels. Sales are around $1.8 billion, and the company employs 11,000 people.
Discount Labels is part of the company's resale division, as it is known internally; externally, it is positioned as a brand of Quality Park, the official name of the resale entity. Quality Park's revenues last year were about $430 million.
New Albany might be in Indiana, but it's pretty much a suburb of Louisville, KY, which is right across the Ohio River to the south. Discount Labels is in an industrial park (as are most label converting businesses), but at 212,000 square feet and four stories in height, it's rather imposing. The property also has a feature seldom encountered at your average label printing business: a guard house, complete with a gate and a no-nonsense person who makes sure you are who you are before you go inside.
What's that all about? Proprietary stuff. Like every press in the plant, all 93 of them, all custom re-engineered in-house, mostly out of old Webtrons. Like proprietary operations management software and procedures. Discount Labels employs 660 people, and the management is serious about propriety. They also don't let anyone, even editors, take photographs indoors.
Most label printers started in their garage, right? True, but not Discount Labels. Founder Fred Conway started his company in 1964 in his basement. When it got too big, only then did he move it to the garage.
Fred Conway's dream, since his childhood, was to become a firefighter. He fulfilled...