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BP Solutions Moves into Digital Labels with Mark Andy

Company President Scott Cotten with press operator Ryan Cotten and BP Solutions’ new Mark Andy Digital Pro 3.

"For our kind of work, the Digital Pro 3 stands head and shoulders above anything else on the market," stated Scott Cotten, President of Asheville, North Carolina-based BP Solutions. The new Mark Andy press, which will be installed in October 2022, is the company's first foray into labeling, so it's worth looking at what prompted the change.

BP Solutions Group (BP) was founded in 1925 as Biltmore Press in Asheville's historic Biltmore Village. The creator, Robert P Williams, began with a modest letterpress shop providing the community with personal stationery and business products before expanding and moving the company into the center of downtown Asheville. His son, Bob Williams, took over the company in the 1970s and expanded into new areas such as mail services, print-on-demand, and fulfillment. In 1995, the company relocated to its current location in West Asheville, a 40,000 square foot state-of-the-art building. BP has expanded into packaging, labelling, and data management technologies under the direction of Scott Cotten, who joined the company in 1992.

"The early 2000s saw a dramatic change in the commercial print market," he continues. "The internet had a significant impact on the music industry and educational institutions, both of which were crucial business sectors for us. There was a lot of 'copycat' capability in th local area, which made it evident that we needed to step up our game." To improve their game, they purchased a flatbed die cutter, folder-gluer, and a half-size 6-color+coater Heidelberg CD 74 offset press. BP was able to specialise in short run folding carton work, often 500 to 100,000 sheets but frequently with 20 or more SKUs, because to its contemporary machinery.

This new capability drew Cotten's attention to the package print industry, and as the number of local craft breweries in the Asheville area increased due to the area's natural water quality, he began to investigate what technology was available for short run labels. "At that point, and after two years of careful research, I was on the verge of ordering one of Mark Andy's Digital One toner/flexo hybrids, only to have the local breweries switch from bottles to cans, and from labels to pre-print and shrink sleeves." He had no idea that his research would come in handy a few years later when one of the company's carton customers asked BP if they could also offer labels.

Mark Andy had developed Digital One technology and produced Digital Pro 3, which was an even better fit for what BP required at this point. Mark Andy's introduction into the mid market digital printing industry, Digital pro, combines flexo with digital toner capability, as well as inline finishing and conversion capabilities for single-pass output. Flexo capabilities is available both before and after the 1200dpi CMYK toner engine, with conversion choices including die cutting, stripping and slitting. The second flexo machine is equipped with an LED/UV curing unit and can be used for adding a spot color or varnish, laminating, or cold foiling. The press has a tiny footprint, making it perfect for small or busy print businesses, there is no 'click charge,' resulting in a low cost-to-print, and it has a 77ft/min running speed, the DPro 3 is a good all-around production tool.

"It was an eye opening for us in many ways, transitioning from sheet fed offset to narrow web flexo and digital combined." But we hired a local operator and cross-trained our existing employees, and we're really happy with what the DPro has added to our capabilities." Scott comments that after assessing the mechanical and technological components of operating the DPro 3, it is another step in the move from a craft-based industry to a tech-based industry.

Since installing the DPro 3, BP has witnessed constant growth in label demand from its other carton clients, who all appreciate the convenience of a single-source supply while also opening up new options. "We knew we could match color with our offset presses from basic files from the very first test runs we did on the DPro." We can easily foresee a ROI of less than three years with its capabilities of running a variety of substrates from paper to BOPP, PET, and PP," he explained, adding that Mark Andy's wealth of knowledge and expertise in narrow web as well as superb after sales support, has made the investment in new technology a comfortable ride.

BP's business is currently split about 50:50 between commercial print and package print, with yearly revenues of around $6 millions. "I'm hoping to increase that figure by $2 million over the next 24 months, with labels accounting for around 20% of that - if we add value to the company and its products, everyone wins, and in today's competitive market, only the winners survive!" he concluded.

For more information on MARK ANDY MACHINES, please contact our local Dynagraph representative.


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