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An industry to watch.

I'm often asked what qualifies a label company for our annual "Companies to Watch" feature. For starters, I tell them, it's not a ranking of any kind. A company can be worth watching even if there are only a handful of employees, or even if it's using printing and converting equipment from the 1970s. One of the things that make the label industry so wonderful is the many ways a business can set itself apart. There is no concrete criteria--you don't need a brand new million dollar press to make our list. Especially in today's day and age, a company can stand out with an aggressive and innovative online presence, exceptional Lean Manufacuring initiatives, or a sales program that taps into some never before seen strategy.

More than anything, the label industry is about people. Sure, new machinery gets most of the press. But it's the people writing the checks for the presses that are the real stories.

Take this year's feature, for example. Yes, there are lots of new presses. But what I am fascinated most with are the company owners and managers that pull the trigger and can see through the clutter in order to set their company on the proper strategic course. There are some great stories in this issue's Companies to Watch feature: Shree Ji Printing is taking on shrink sleeves and flexible packaging; Adcraft Labels is launching its trademark Flexjet technology; Wizard Labels is working its magic via an online label-ordering portal. Those are just three of the 10 stories we've put together.

We also recap Labelexpo Americas 2016, a record-setting show highlighted again by a large number of digital press vendors. There's a fair amount of crossover in Companies to Watch and the Labelexpo Post-Show Report. For example, Adcraft Labels was in Chicago finalizing the purchase of its Mark Andy Digital Series, Shree Ji was there making sure its new shrink sleeve equipment and Nilpeter press made it through the show unharmed, and Warren Packaging was on hand, adding one of the industry's first Konica Minolta digital label presses.

Labelexpo continues to impress. My only complaint was running out of time to see everyone and everything on my list. The show broke records, and the label industry continues to grow with new suppliers and players. In fact, there were more than 100 first-time exhibitors at this year's edition. No doubt, this is a testament to the health of the industry. I wonder if there is a magazine article somewhere that lists Labels as an "Industry to Watch."

Steve Katz, Editor

Twitter: @LabelSteve

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Title Annotation:EDITORIAL
Author:Katz, Steve
Publication:Label & Narrow Web
Date:Oct 1, 2016
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