This is the second post in a four-part series about how Wallace Carlson became the printing powerhouse it is today. Last week, we introduced you to Team Turbeville and shared the story of the convergence between Lightning Printing and Wallace Carlson Printing. This week, you’ll meet Charlie Cox, who joined Wallace Carlson in 2010 and spearheaded a major business transformation in the years that followed.
The year was 2010. Team Turbeville had been at the helm of the decades-old company for five years.
“We thought the production side of the business could improve,” said Ann Turbeville. “We were seeing a lot of consolidation in an industry that was becoming more price drive, It became clear that greater efficiency on the plant floor was an area to gain a competitive edge.”
Fortunately, creating efficiencies on the production floor is one of Charlie Cox’s specialties.
“Ann brought Charlie in as our COO, and we also welcomed him into the ownership group, with Ann retaining majority ownership,” said Brian. “That signified the start of a major transformation.”
It was a transformation built on automation and analytics, productivity and efficiency.
“From the moment I walked in the door, it was clear to me that this company had a rich history and great potential for the future,” said Charlie. “I was honored to be a part of it and ready to roll up my sleeves.”
It wasn’t long before Charlie started finding ways to increase efficiencies and reduce waste. “Our people were handling the work too much; we needed far fewer touches. There were manual processes that could be automated. We were even losing time because of the extra foot-steps it took to get across the production floor. We analyzed every workstream, technology and expense, and uncovered some areas for improvement.”
By 2012, this holistic approach to improving productivity had resulted in a much more efficient operation. Wallace Carlson was benefitting from streamlined processes, technology that optimizes productivity, and analytics that aid in identifying and resolving bottlenecks and other obstacles on the path to efficiency.
In time, much of this effort formed the basis of the company’s RMS methodology, which is aimed at driving efficiency through “Repeatability, Measurability and Speed.” (More about RMS in a future blog post.)
“We were pulling everything we could out of our equipment. We had a healthy bottom line and healthy growth. By 2014, we had surpassed all previous profits,” said Charlie. “we were ready for a new challenge.”
Charlie admits he likes to keep an eye on his competition, but never wants to follow them.
“One by one, they were going with new digital platforms,” said Charlie. “I watched a half dozen of my closest competitors put in the exact same digital press. It wasn’t long before they were all buying the same paper and inks. That struck me as odd, and unoriginal, and it certainly wasn’t the way I wanted to go.”
Wallace Carlson chose to be different and carve out a new niche. “We recognized a need for short to mid-sized folding carton runs and knew we could extend our RMS methodology and our commitment to super high-quality production into the folding carton space,” said Charlie. “We talked to different equipment manufacturers and kicked the tires around for a while to see what equipment was out there.”
Ultimately, it was Komori and Brausse equipment that formed the cornerstone of Wallace Carlson’s new packaging division. “We’ve invested in new equipment that rivals what the large carton manufacturers use, but we’re using our equipment to serve the shorter-run needs of our existing customers, and others like them,” said Charlie. “It’s boutique-style packaging produced on equipment that’s anything but boutique.”
The Komori Lithrone G840LP-H-UV that Wallace Carlson uses is a 40-in. eight-color perfecting press. It prints double-sided four-color jobs using H-UV inks and UV or aqueous coatings in a single pass on up to 0.24-pt. board. Automatic make-ready, plate-making and wash-up systems drive production efficiency to levels that make short and medium-run jobs economical for Wallace Carlson and its customers.
Charlie notes that the Komori Lithrone is still pretty new. It was installed in early 2016 and replaced three old presses. “It has reduced setup times and increased throughput by 20 percent and it produces gorgeous cartons,” he said, “but it was a new Brausse diecutter that really paved the way for carton production.”
Today, two Brausse machines – a Brausse Tornado 106CE high-speed die cutter with embossing and a Brausse TA900 high-speed folder-gluer with hot and cold glue valves – are used to rapidly complete jobs in Wallace Carlson’s finishing department. Both machines combine an advanced feature set with ease of operation. The die cutter was installed in 2014, while the folder-gluer is new as of this summer.
Meanwhile, a Fuji Javelin 8600S thermal computer-to-plate system and a Fuji XMF workflow platform are the newest additions to the prepress department. At Wallace Carlson, the equipment repertoire remains both comprehensive and diverse, and the next equipment investment is always right around the corner.
“Every day, we challenge ourselves to be as good or better than we were the day before. And every day, we leverage sophisticated equipment and tap into our passion for service to do just that,” said Ann.
Charlie’s vision for the packaging division, coupled with his knack for driving production efficiency, helped spur growth at Wallace Carlson in recent years. However, he’s quick to attribute much of the success to the strength of the partnerships with equipment manufacturers who helped to make his vision a reality.
Stay tuned … we’ll take a look at those partnerships next week.