This is the third post in our four-part series. By now, you’ve met Team Turbeville and Charlie Cox, who spearheaded a major business transformation that set the stage for the future of Wallace Carlson. This week, you’ll learn about the partners who helped Wallace Carlson achieve their vision.
“I certainly didn’t get here alone,” said COO Charlie Cox, of Wallace Carlson’s growth in recent years. “I had a vision, but that vision wouldn’t have been attainable without the support of my business partners, Ann and Brian, and my relationships with manufacturers who have been instrumental in our success.”
Among the most important relationships are those he formed with Brausse and Komori.
Wallace Carlson has been running a Brausse Tornado 106CE for a couple of years. “I knew a sales representative from the industry, Jake Gray, he introduced me to Brausse, and to John Cheng,” said Charlie. John is the president of Brausse, which is headquartered in Vancouver and has been part of the Bobst family since 2011.
Charlie needed a diecutter so he could start bringing finishing in house. “When you outsource part of your production process, you lose control. You have no idea who is running your job, and you’re at the mercy of your vendors,” he explained. “We didn’t want to be in that position anymore. We wanted to control the process, and the quality, from start to finish. Diecutting is a critical part of our process.”
It was John Cheng who helped Charlie begin outfitting Wallace Carlson’s finishing department. “We share the same operational philosophies. John bought into our vision and wanted to help,” said Charlie.
The Brausse Tornado was new to the U.S. market at the time. Charlie went to look at a prototype that was running at a company in Green Bay. “I was told they were struggling with it, but I wanted to see it myself. I spent the day in their plant, and it became apparent to me that they were struggling because of the operator, not because of the machine,” said Charlie, who has been around diecutters nearly his entire life.
“I poked around under the hood and saw that the Tornado is built like a tank,” he said. It runs 8,000 sheets per hour, and it handles a wide range of substrates and paper weights, even some microflute. “I could see Bobst’s influence in the manufacturing and technology, though the operational side is a bit different.”
Charlie knew it was the machine he wanted. John and Charlie worked out the details, and the Tornado was moved to Minnetonka. “We worked together to fine-tune the machine over the course of about six months, and since we hit the go button, we’ve never looked back,” said Charlie. “We’ve been able to get the Tornado to do things others said couldn’t be done, and we’ve run stock on it that even John said couldn’t be run. I send him videos every time we’re doing something new with it.”
Charlie and John communicate frequently, and it’s not shop talk all the time. “We have a lot in common, our business ethics and how we lead our lives,” said Charlie, “and he’s become a good friend.”
In 2016, when Charlie found himself in the market for another piece of finishing equipment to round out their packaging capabilities – this time a folder-gluer – he again turned to his friend John. Wallace Carlson installed a new Brausse TA900 Hi-Speed Folder-gluer this summer.
Charlie’s partnership with Komori has similar roots.
“We had done so much to improve efficiencies on the plant floor, we had already begun bringing finishing in house, and we were fast with our make-readies,” said Charlie. “But about 90 percent of our jobs had to go back through the press a second time because we could only print one side at a time. That deficiency kept rearing its ugly head. We needed a perfector. We weren’t going to get any faster without one.”
Charlie began scoping out new presses, and it was a young Komori sales rep who captured his attention.
“Clark Sherer pops in one Friday afternoon. He goes to the front desk and asks for me. I had never met him and he didn’t have an appointment, but I invited him in – and wow, did he impress me,” recalls Charlie. “He was so well-prepared. He knew his product. He knew what I was looking to do. He had really done his homework. He convinced me to go to Chicago to see Komori’s new 8 color perfector with H-UV technology.”
A few months later, Charlie was in Chicago, meeting with Jacki Hudman, SVP business development for Komori America. “I explained how I didn’t want to be a follower and go digital like everyone else, and she got it,” he said. “It became clear that the Lithrone G840LP-H-UV was just what we needed to step up our game. Sure, they wanted to sell a press, but I really felt a personal connection with the Komori team.”
For Charlie, that would be the first of many trips to Komori’s demo center in the Chicago suburb of Rolling Meadows. “I’m often a guest at Komori’s open houses. I send samples ahead of time – samples that show some special applications we’ve done, projects that have garnered awards for us – all printed on the Komori press,” said Charlie. “Then I make myself available at the open house to answer questions.”
There are other partnerships that are important to Charlie, too.
“We use Toyo inks, and not only do they make a great product, but our rep, Mike Keegan, is an awesome partner,” he said. “Also, Fuji has helped us create an amazing prepress department. We use Fuji plates and the Fuji Javelin 8600S thermal computer-to-plate system, and we love their XMF workflow platform. Fuji technology also helps us live and breathe our G7 certification. When other vendors come knocking, I tell them I’m a Fuji guy – just like I tell them I’m a Toyo guy, and a Komori guy and a Brausse guy.”
When Charlie has great success with a product and forms a strong bond with the people who helped him put it there, he remains loyal to the brand. He becomes an evangelist for his partners and their products, and he welcomes their potential customers into Wallace Carlson to see the products in action.
Wallace Carlson customers also benefit from the strength of these partnerships.
“We wouldn’t have the offerings we have today without these partners. We wouldn’t be able to offer the same level of quality or turnaround times,” said Charlie. “But it’s not just about the equipment. It’s not companies working with companies. It’s people working together toward shared goals, and a genuine desire to deliver the very best to the end customers – our customers – and ensure their success.”
We promised to tell you more about the RMS methodology. That’s part four … next week!