Label & Narrow Web Editor Steve Katz’s report from G3 Enterprises in Modesto, California. This is an extract of his editorial.
.Owned by the third generation Gallo family, G3 is a separate company from the Gallo Winery. G3 is composed of different divisions, among them the Label Division, which got its start in 1985 when Tom Gallo started a commercial printing business called Grand Street Litho. The company at first specialized in point-of-sale commercial printing, but began printing Gallo wine labels in 1993. As its wine label business grew, Grand Street started taking on new wine customers. In 2002, the company became part of the newly formed G3 Enterprises, which brought together a number of various wine manufacturing operations.
In addition to Labels, divisions at G3 include Closures, Bottle Etching, Logistics, Mobile Bottling and Minerals. The company also supplies four mobile bottling trucks for wine and spirits that travel throughout California. The Bottle Etching Division in Napa, CA, provides custom etched and hand-painted wine bottles.
.Anything a winery might need to facilitate its bottling, packaging, and transport, G3 can handle. At the Label Division in Modesto, the company manufactures more than two billion labels annually. G3 produces glue-applied and pressure sensitive labels, utilizing offset and flexo processes. In addition to labels, the division also produces gravure-printed closure capsules, which are then sent off to the G3 Closure Division where they are formed into the final product.
PS Growth with Flexo
G3’s pressure sensitive labels are printed exclusively using flexography. “With every equipment purchase, we analyze the marketplace. We’ve analyzed both pressure sensitive offset and pressure sensitive flexo, and we’ve built up a really strong expertise in flexo,” says Brendan Kinzie, senior director of operations, Label & Bottle Etching Division.
.G3’s most recent equipment acquisition came in 2014 with the addition of an eleven-colour multi-substrate Nilpeter FA-4 flexo press. With high-end wine labels being synonymous with decorative effects, the press being equipped with Nilpeter’s FP-4 flatbed embossing unit makes it a perfect fit for G3. Hot foil and embossing can be done inline, while also using Nilscreen for special effects and opaque white.
“The benefits of our Nilpeter press are tremendous,” says James Stone, business development manager for G3. “Flat tooling gives wine label designers more creative license, while allowing for a broader range in stamping and embossing to meet the more challenging label designs which, in the past, required special equipment for detailing,” he says. “Clean printing can be a challenge on premium uncoated wine labelstocks, but this press has precision impression control, which provides clean and precise colour control and the highest quality print.”
Of the two billion labels G3 manufactures, 60% are pressure sensitive versus 40% glue-applied – a testament to both advances in flexo technology and G3’s mastery of the process. Kinzie points out the 60/40 split represents a dramatic change over the last 10 years. “It’s been exciting, because we are able to maintain flexo print quality that is equal to offset – flexo was an area where you historically couldn’t achieve the same effects you could with offset printing.
“We’ve enjoyed a long partnership with our supplier on the platemaking side,” Kinzie adds. “In fact, we were one of the first users of our plate technology. We’ve printed labels on our offset presses and have been able to match them dead-on with our flexo presses. The expertise we’ve developed around flexo has been tremendous.”
G3’s Label Division primarily focuses on the US wine label market. Being dedicated to a core market that is not only vibrant and healthy, but also with the highest of quality requirements is a business model that works.
“We spend a lot of time on strategy – looking at our business and where we compete and how we compete in the industry,” Kinzie says. “We’ve really tried to build a skillset and an expertise, combining our printing knowledge with a deep understanding of the wine industry.”
G3’s Label customers consist of many of the top US wineries. “The wine industry is a very dynamic and challenging industry, and in order to succeed and grow we have to have a competitive price, and we have to be able to compete on service and quality. But we have a lot of things that make us unique in the marketplace,” Kinzie says.
“We deliver value beyond price,” he explains. “It’s very advantageous to have wine industry knowledge, to know your suppliers, your customers, what types of materials will work and won’t work. For example, we can look at a particular label design and determine if there’ll be an application problem on the bottling line. We have a very robust technical services department – people with years of bottling line expertise – and they’ll visit customer sites and help them with setups on the lines, what types of glues to use, that sort of thing.”
G3 understands the intricacies of the wine industry, such as design execution and the importance of speed-to-market. In the US, there were several thousand new brands released last year in the wine industry alone. Of those, only a small number are still in the market, Kinzie explains. “So there’s a lot new brands and new designs, with many wineries putting products to market and seeing what sticks,” he says. “Wineries tend to be very quick, very responsive – getting a product out fast, and often with a lot of frequent changes.”
The company does an extensive amount of partnering with customers on new designs, working with both the customer and design agencies on new concepts. “We will recommend ways to not only make a label more cost-effective and value engineer it from a printing standpoint, but also value engineer it from an application standpoint. And that’s led to several of the innovations we’ve released. We also do a lot of work around process improvement, with Lean Six Sigma and kaizen events, and really work at engaging our team in all aspects of our business.
“It’s clich to say that people are your greatest strength but the reality is, at the end of the day we could have the best equipment on earth, and if we don’t have the right people it doesn’t make a difference, and vice-versa. We don’t need the best equipment on earth, but if we have the right people we can be very successful doing what we’re doing,” Kinzie says. “We have some phenomenal talent on our team who are very engaged. I’m very proud of our people.”
Innovation and Quality
.”In the wine industry, people expect a very high level of quality. It’s not like you’re manufacturing widgets all day long, or just putting ink on paper and blasting it out,” Kinzie says. “There’s a significant artistic component and designers will spend hours dialing in shades of colour. Once they get the important details dialed in, they expect their final product to look that way every time. So there’s a big repeatability component to our business.
“In the wine market, it’s essentially the label that’s selling the wine for the first time,” Kinzie adds. “Quality delivered consistently is very important, as is on-time delivery at a competitive price. But G3 Enterprises is truly unique. If you look at most label companies out there, most will print labels for a wide range of markets. But if you look at G3 Label as a whole, our expertise is focused on servicing a particular market, running deep within the actual segment.”
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