Tell me about Repacorp.
From a timeline perspective, the company was started in 1974 and the name Repacorp comes from "repa-corp". We were a reseller, we didn't manufacture anything. In 1978 my brother Rick came on board and started to sell product. In 1988, he became 50% owner. In 1990, he and his partner split up and his partner owned one-third of a label company in Richmond, Indiana. Rick bought the customer list but nothing on the manufacturing side. We continued running most of our label business through various plants throughout the country. In 1994, we decided to get into manufacturing. We bought a building, bought our first press…a flexo press, and started to grow the business. In 1997 we moved into a new facility here in Tipp City, Ohio…about a 44K square foot facility. We added more flexo presses. In 2000, we were looking for an acquisition and bought a label company in Milwaukee, WI…the label division of OEI Business Forms. It was the flexo label printing machine and equipment that gave us more capabilities and new customers. In 2002, we were looking for distribution on the west coast, where we could manufacture for our stock label program because really the way that Repacorp started was in stock labels such as thermal transfer. We created a stock label catalog and a lot of the customers that we had dealt with had asked us to put some type of manufacturing or distribution on the west coast so freight wasn't so expensive. In doing so, we found another company out there called Sierra Screen Printing. We thought if we are going to buy another company why not get involved in another market? So we got into screen printing and at the same point, once we bought them, we moved the facility to a larger facility and added flexo capabilities to that site as well, so that we could manufacture stock labels out on the west coast. In 2005 RFID was starting to get attention. Everyone was saying that RFID would be the next big thing and replace bar coding. We wanted to be on the ground floor of RFID, similar to how the bar codes started in the 1970s. So we started a new division and got into RFID, but unfortunately that did not take off like we had expected. Walmart had pushed it and then didn't push it as much, but we were still growing that business…there were still RFID applications out there. We had grown it until 2010 when everything
Back tracking a bit…back in 2008, we were looking at getting into digital printing and opening another division for digital. However, we were really concerned if we should do that or not with the way the economy was, but we decided to go for it. So we got into digital printing in 2008, along with laser die cutting and added two presses in 2008-2009.
In 2011, we added our third digital press, that one at our Wisconsin facility. Then in third quarter of 2012 we added two additional digital presses, one more here in Ohio and one in our Arizona facility. Those two additional presses are right now being installed…they are not up and running yet. So we have a total of five digital presses…that's a really big part of our business that's growing. In 2011, we purchased Aladdin Label, in Milwaukee, WI. They had two manufacturing facilities which we closed down and moved all of the equipment to our building in Milwaukee and expanded at the same time there.
So that takes us to present and right now we are expanding within RFID. We're adding a second RFID press as we speak and that gives you a little bit of history. We have had a really good year and gotten into good markets. I think if you pick up new business in digital or RFID, then customers also look at other things that you offer and it helps to grow that business as well.
That takes us to the Domino K600i. We had a Jetrion 3000 that we had bought about 5 years ago. The problem with it is that every time we turn that thing on, there is a problem with it…there's a jet out, or something is wrong with it. My understanding is that you really need to run it consistently to eliminate some of those problems. So we finally got to the point where we had quite a bit of business relying on that press, but because every time we would fire it up there was a problem…stitching issues with the multiple heads across the web or maybe a bar code issue because printed bar codes were not scanning correctly. So finally I said, we're getting out of this…it's not dependable and we're upsetting a lot of customers. So we really stopped quoting on those print jobs and started looking for a new system that would eliminate those issues. Finally we got in touch with Domino and looked at the K600i. The biggest thing we were looking for in a system was that when we turn it on, it works. And so far we have had good success. We haven't had it that long, but we have had good success with it. No major issues. There is consistent flow of the ink through the printheads and with the capping and cleaning station, the heads are cleaned automatically. And that eliminates any potential issue with jet outs. So a lot of that business that previously we turned away over the last couple of years, now that we have the Domino, it's something that we are starting to offer to our customers…there is a lot of business out there for it.
What types of customers does Repacorp have?
It's a wide range of customers. We sell to distributors across the country. It's all through resellers which could be in all different types of markets.
How did you find the Domino K600i?
We were putting some feelers out there. We knew our existing Jetrion was not a good solution and we started looking. We knew of Domino, we reached out and Domino told us about their technology and what makes it different than the Jetrion, specifically regarding the problems we were having. And then we saw it at Drupa and realized it was something that we should really consider. We talked to some other customers who were using it and they spoke highly of it, so we decided to move forward.
How did you cost justify the purchase of the Domino K600i?
We knew what the cost structure was for the Jetrion and how that works, and we knew that we turned away a lot of business over the last three years because of all of the problems we had with that system. So where we cost justified it was number one…the cost of the equipment and the second thing was the cost of the ink going through it. And the one thing we really liked about the Domino system is that we would be able to control the drop size… the drop amount, the amount of ink. So you really get that cost down, depending on what you're running. But for the most part, you can price it out using a medium ink drop setting, and then once you get it on press you can figure out how lean you can go as far as the ink because a lot of the stuff we are running on it is high-volume bar code type products, variable print. So you can test it once you get it on press. We knew the market was there for it and we had turned a lot of business away. Evaluating the Domino K600i, and the concept of removing the printhead problems we were having with the jet outs, and then adding the continuous flow of ink through the printhead, that's what really sold us. It was a combination of all those things.
Any additional benefits have you noticed from the Domino K600i?
We are now able to print scannable bar codes. That was probably even a bigger problem that we had with the Jetrion, than the jet outs. A lot of the applications were large bar codes and the stitching issue really showed up. If we didn't get the printheads lined up perfectly, the bar code wasn't going to scan. So that was a big selling point of going to the Domino K600. It has basically one head. I know that it's made up of multiple heads in the print bar, but it's already put together so that you don't have to worry about the stitching. That was a huge selling point for us.
Have you seen increases in productivity, in terms of decreased "make ready" time or decreased maintenance required?
Absolutely. I can't put a number on it, but I can tell you that we spent hours and hours and hours on the Jetrion 3000 trying to get the heads aligned, getting rid of the stitching. We wasted thousands of feet of material on each job to get it set up and run correctly. So far what we have seen with the Domino, those problems have gone away. It's relatively simple to set up. You turn it on, it prints, it works. And you don't have all of those issues to deal with.
What are the typical jobs that you use the Domino K600i for?
Typically it's high-volume, variable print bar codes. And it offers a lot more than that; we just haven't been able to market it long enough yet to do some of the monochrome high-quality work, similar to a four-color process.
Do you anticipate increased sales or revenue by using the Domino K600i?
Definitely. There is a big market out there for it and it's just something that we needed. There were a lot of lost sales previously before we had this and we didn't have a piece of equipment that we felt comfortable with. We were ticking off so many customers to the point that we knew we had to do away with our previous system, and find something that was more reliable.
What do you foresee moving forward? Do you plan to implement any additional Domino digital print systems in the future?
Absolutely. We looked at Domino's four-color process system at Label Expo 2012 and definitely moving forward we are going to be looking at that equipment…the N600i. The speeds that Domino is running with the four-color process are incredible. And there are some specific applications for that press geared toward the flexo market, based on the speeds it runs. In fact, you really start to touch into the flexo market, where you could start pulling jobs from the flexo press and move it to digital because of the speeds of the N600 and the wide web. Running at 250 feet/minute, not to mention up to 400 feet/minute on lower-resolution for certain types of applications…that's where we would start to look at potentially replacing some flexo work.