Lux Global Label Empowered employees and "intimate engagement" with customers are driving the rebirth and rebrand of this multinational label company.
Within the spectrum of label manufacturers, Lux Global Label is in a unique position. There exist in the industry the mega-multinationals, and then there are of course the small-to-medium sized players. Lux Global Label--which is indeed a multinational--falls somewhere in the middle, however, it was only just over a year ago that the company was having serious difficulties.
Headquartered in Lafayette Hill, PA, USA, for over a century National Label Company enjoyed a glorious run. However, following a series of decisions, the company, along with its manufacturing facilities in Puerto Rico and Singapore, was facing its worst-case scenario. In fact, in early 2017, its global workforce of 350 employees believed that any day could be their last day at work, never knowing when the doors would be locked. To say tensions were high and morale was low would be quite an understatement.
Fast-forward to today, though, and a walk through the offices and pressrooms reveal a smiling, eager workforce, empowered to collaborate with each other and the company's label and packaging customers.
Todd Kennedy is Lux Global Label's CEO, and he's been in the label business all his life. His father, Bert Kennedy, started Northeast Ohio-based label manufacturer The Kennedy Group in 1974, and it's where he learned the business from the ground up.
National Label Company was at a very serious risk of going out of business when, in early 2017, it was purchased by Resilience Capital Partners. The private equity firm based in Cleveland, OH was one that The Kennedy Group had invested with for over two decades. When Resilience came upon the opportunity to own, operate and try and turn around the once proud but struggling National Label Company, Todd Kennedy's interest was piqued.
After hearing about the assets at the 150,000 square foot Lafayette Hill location, Kennedy became very excited about the opportunity. He recalls, "We saw this great facility with these tremendous equipment assets, and above all else an incredible workforce that had great longevity and customer relationships.
"It was a very interesting and exciting opportunity--the prospect of seeing if we can turn things around," he says. "The core business was still very solid."
Upon seeing the assets and learning of its proprietary capabilities, Kennedy saw the high quality, unique printing techniques the converter was capable of, and realized, "This is not your typical label shop."
All told, there are 15 printing presses at the Pennsylvania plant in web widths that range from 13 to 32 inches. In addition to standalone narrow web UV flexo presses, there are multiple high end combination presses--machines equipped with offset, gravure, silkscreen and flexo capabilities all inline. Also setting Lux apart from most other label converters is a high speed 8-color gravure press from Italian equipment manufacturer Cerutti. With a 32-inch web width, the servo-driven press is ideal for labels, shrink sleeves and flexible packaging in both multiple web and thin constructions. In addition, Lux also has facilities in Singapore and Puerto Rico.
Lux Global Label's converting capabilities are numerous, yet the end-use focal point is on health and beauty, personal care and pharmaceutical labels, supplying some of the world's most iconic brands. The company has several propriety technologies and IP, used for Extended Vial Wrap Labels and Multi-Panel NGD Tab Labels. Other segments where Lux excels is in security labeling technology and ECLs (Extended Content Labels). In fact, Lux counts as customers pharmaceutical companies operating in 40 countries on six continents, and produces over 100 types of ECLs in more than 10 languages. Another end-use area that sets the company apart is in a niche category that stands alone--battery labels.
Mirror Lux is one of Lux Global's proprietary technologies, and is positioned as a "market disruptor." In response to customer demand for a cost-effective alternative to hot foil and cold stamping, Mirror Lux offers foil and metallic effects in silver, gold and other colors, while at a comparatively lower cost, with a lower environmental impact. Mirror Lux is also more durable in comparison to hot or cold foil decoration.
EMPOWERING THE WORKFORCE
The challenge in completing a company turnaround such as the one taking place at Lux Global Label is a complex process. There's a lot more to it than simply an updated name and logo to go along with a new owner.
Despite all of the aforementioned high quality printing and converting assets in place, Kennedy recognized that above all else, it was the company culture that needed changing in order for things to get better.
"Before we came in, the people here had gone through two very traumatic years, and morale was at an all-time low," Kennedy says. "It was imperative to change the culture. And that meant being more communicative and transparent--we share as much information as possible to the entire workforce."
An initial wave of good news brought in by Lux was to fix and update many of the assets that had been neglected over the years. "When we got here, none of our machinery was running at peak performance," Kennedy recalls."So we invested quite heavily into our equipment--we brought every piece of equipment we have back to OEM standards. "That was one of the early wins," Kennedy adds.
Seeing the level of commitment they were getting from management and ownership, Lux Global Label's people started buying in to a new philosophy and way of doing business.
"We have completely changed the culture from what was here," Kennedy says.'We've created an empowered workforce, and one that works in a collaborative environment."
To help achieve his culture-changing goals, Kennedy brought in label industry veteran Leslie Gurland, who spent 17 years growing New Jersey-based Logotech/Tadbik NJ. Since February 2018, she's been Lux Global Label's executive vice president of sales and marketing, and her passion and dedication is adding to what's becoming a remarkable turnaround.
"What we're doing here--how we're changing the culture--is such a huge shift from the way things were run," she says. "Everyone here is empowered to take care of their particular areas, and we as the management team are here to provide support in any way we can. Before Todd came in, this was an authoritative, top-down run organization. That's all been dispelled.
"Today, everyone here is engaged and involved--all employees are being challenged at a higher level than they ever were before," Gurland explains. "Our customer service personnel--who are now Account Managers--are learning the industry. Now, not only are they becoming knowledgeable about our printing processes and the products we sell, they are also going on customer visits. They are meeting in person the people they've been talking to on the phone for 5-10 years."
A coming together of employees is taking place internally at Lux--a sense of unity was absent for quite some time. Gurland adds, "When I came on board, we had our first ever company-wide sales conference. That had never been done before, where we brought in our salespeople from all over. We're all getting on the same page."
At the Lafayette Hill plant, Lux Global Label runs three shifts, 24/5. And something like the sales teanr bringing in breakfast tor the third shift at 5:30 AM is a simple gesture that goes a long way toward company unity and morale, Gurland says.
"We're trying to spend time with each other," she adds. "It used to be that all our people saw were 'the jobs.' Now, everyone is engaged, working together and getting to know one another as people."
Collaboration is emphasized and encouraged. Activities include "Town Hall" quarterly updates, as well as internal communications that provide employees with business and operational improvement updates, personnel news and milestones.
In addition, the satellite manufacturing operations in both Puerto Rico and Singapore are both now fully engaged and part of a collaborative process. The two facilities are each about 35,000 square feet with 60 or so employees.
"We've worked really hard on getting these facilities--which at one point were run rather autonomously--to feel like they are part of the family," Kennedy says. "We're breaking down the obstacles that existed in the previous organization, and this extends to all of our facilities, employees, vendors and customers."
Lux Global Label has rebranded in name, culture and attitude--in a very short period of time.
A prevailing theme of "intimate engagement" now starts from within the organization and extends to customer relationships and strategies to win new business. Customer visits are now commonplace, and small group meetings are taking place in an area of the Lafayette Hill office that is sleek and inviting. Here, customers and prospects can learn about Lux's capabilities as well as see what their products will look like in a high-end, boutique-like setting.
With regard to Lux leadership, Gurl and says,"We lead by example--Todd gets involved, everyone gets involved. He is a CEO that personally attends project meetings with clients. As a company of our size, there are not too many people selling in the label industry that get to work with and get the support of the CEO."
Kennedy adds, "We have all the capabilities and know-how of the biggest players but with the intimate feel of working with a small, family business. We feel this combination is a big part of our value proposition. It has proven successful with early wins of new clients."
Lux Global Label aims to be intimately involved with brand owners, learning all of their wants and needs, and aligning themselves with their customers' culture and values. "We view it as an honor that our customers trust us with their brands," Kennedy says.
"Everyone has customer service," Gurland adds. "But it's not about service. It's about' serving' your customers. Why should someone come and work with us? Because we are creating an experience. And to do this you must have humility. It's not about selling a product--it's about serving with gratitude and providing a stress-free, engaging experience."
At Lux Global Label, a lot of change has taken place. Kennedy is seeing the vision come to fruition--his goal of building on the positive aspects of the company's foundation such as the top-of-the-line, equipment assets and innovative proprietary technologies. While these things are great, he concedes, "For us, our greatest assets are in our human capital--our people are our true secret weapon."
Account Manager Stefanie Muratore says, "Lux Global Label has a clear vision and is passionate about its brand. Management is deeply committed to its employees and that commitment shines through to our customers. It is a pleasure to work for a company that is goal-oriented and determined, yet humble. I am excited to see what is in store for the future."
Adds Phil Henry, head of Lux's customer support team, "We are achieving our goal of exceeding our customers' expectations. We have a great team in place, and are focused on growing the business. The sky truly is the limit."
Concludes Kennedy, "This is an exciting time, and our people have great energy and enthusiasm. Though it's only been just over a year, we have a lot of positive momentum. We've made some great strides and progress, but we're just getting started."
By Steve Katz
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|Title Annotation:||NARROW WEB Profile|
|Publication:||Label & Narrow Web|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2018|
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