McCourt Label: after more than 100 years, this Pennsylvania label converter continues to adapt to an evolving industry.

Author:Katz, Steve
Position:NARROW WEB: Profile

McCourt Label is reinventing itself once again. After 118 years in business, this label converter in Lewis Run, PA has had to do it before, and the ability to both evolve and improve is a testament to McCourt's success and longevity.

The company got its start in 1896, in the back room of a grocery store, making holders for druggists' labels. Along with a group of investors and inventors, entrepreneur Newton W. McCourt founded the McCourt Label Cabinet Company in Bradford, PA. On a single press, the company printed labels for pharmacy cabinets, and patented "A Druggist's Label Cabinet," receiving Patent #767,233 on August 9,1904.The concept involved not only a cabinet for holding druggist's or other labels, but the labels themselves, gummed and rolled into compact cylinders--at the time, a convenient and cleanly method of keeping labels where they were readily available.

An investment group paid the inventors $4,000 to acquire the patent, with Newton McCourt receiving shares of stock for all rights to the patent and for using his name for the corporation. However, the immediate years that followed were marked by leadership and financial instability that is, until 1911, when bookkeeper Herbert Black, along with a new group of investors, put the company back on its feet. With Black serving as president, the company flourished.

For 47 years, Black ran McCourt Label until his passing in 1959. John Egbert, Black's nephew, inherited stock in McCourt Label from his uncle, and would assume the role of president. Egbert guided the company through its adoption of flexographic printing technology, which would be paramount to McCourt's success in penetrating the pressure sensitive label market.

In the 1960s, with the development of more advanced systems, the label cabinets that were the backbone of the company became obsolete. So, McCourt purchased its first flexographic press in 1967--a 4" wide, four-color Webtron with three diecutting stations. In addition to producing a variety of label products for drugstores and pharmacies, the company began printing labels for a host of other markets, including oil and gas, lumber, steel, automotive and other industries prevalent in the Western Pennsylvania region. The company also became active in producing governmental applications such as the US Postal return label.

John Egbert ran the company until 1981. His children succeeded him, with Jim Egbert serving as president from 1981 to 1987 and John C. Egbert serving as president from 1987 to 1998. John L. Egbert's two daughters, Jane Egbert Luzzi and Mary Egbert Reiley remain as majority owners of the company to this day.

It's a true family business, and current ownership can trace its lineage back over 100 years to McCourt pioneer Herbert Black. Today, Luzzi also serves as McCourt's human resources manager, while...

To continue reading