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Label Awards honor industry’s finest

The 2019 R Stanton Avery Global Achievement Award was awarded to Jim DeFife

The Label Industry Global Awards at Labelexpo Europe 2019 recognized three companies and one individual for contributions to the label industry, as two new awards categories were presented this year. 

GMG, Esko, Avery Dennison were honored for innovation and sustainability, while Robert Rae from GEW was named a rising star and Reynders was named European converter of the year. 

The 2019 R Stanton Avery Global Achievement Award was awarded to Jim DeFife, VP of pressure-sensitive materials at Multi-Color Corporation. 

This award, sponsored by Avery Dennison, honors the contribution an individual has made which has impacted the growth of the international label industry. DeFife has been a driving force in the global label industry for almost 40 years, beginning his career at Avery Dennison and for the past 17 years working at Spear and Multi-Color. 

DeFife had known and worked with Stan Avery early on in his career. ‘I think he’d be really proud of this,’ he said, accepting the award. ‘And I think he’d be proud of what the label industry has become today.’

During his 20 years with Avery Dennison, DeFife led the company’s specialty films division, developing new filmic constructions. He subsequently led a global initiative for material down-gauging at Spear, C-Flex and Multi-Color. 

DeFife has also been a pioneer in thin film technology, adding wide-web coating into Spear’s facilities, including work with the entire supply chain incorporating film/ paper, adhesive and coating suppliers. 

He also developed the first plastic bottle recyclable PS label recognized by the APR.

The judging panel agreed that Jim DeFife was the stand-out choice for this year’s Achievement Award. Mike Fairley, chair of the judges, said: ‘Beyond his technical expertise, what also really stood out for us was his ability to gain and retain the respect of the industry throughout his career – from suppliers, his peers and his customers. What better moment to celebrate his achievements from an incredible 40-year label career than the 40th anniversary of Labelexpo.’

Awards for innovation, sustainability 
The award for innovation for companies with up to 300 employees, sponsored by Flint Group Narrow Web, went to GMG for its Calibration Creation Wizard, which was developed to enable customers to create color-accurate mock-ups for labels, flexible packaging and cartons. The judges said they were impressed with how the company had connected GMG Color Management software with an Epson SC-S80600 to achieve such accurate reproducible proofs. 

The award for innovation for companies with more than 300 employees, sponsored by Xeikon, went to Esko for its Print Control Wizard software. The software was developed to simplify the implementation of screens and dot gain curves in the reprographics process. Its main feature is the ability to control where the transition from AM to FM occurs. The judges were impressed by the way that transition points can be changed at the touch of a button, enabling the operator to see the immediate impact on tonal values. 

Labels & Labeling sponsored the environmental and sustainability award, which was awarded to Avery Dennison. The supplier was recognized for its recycled PET liners. The sustainable liners were made with 30 percent recycled PET post-consumer waste from PET bottles, while maintaining the technical qualifications the liner material needs for supply chain labeling success. 

Rising star, converter of the year 
Robert Rae of GEW took home the industry’s first Rising Star Award, which was sponsored by the Label Academy and Avery Dennison. Rae joined GEW in 2014 and helped to develop a LED curing system introduced in 2016. More recently he was heavily involved in GEW’s launch of its LeoLED system at Labelexpo Europe 2019. Rae has also been involved with the UVFoodSafe Group. 

The European Converter of the Year Award, sponsored by GM, went to Reynders. Founded in 1956, Reynders has label plants in Belgium, France, Poland, Spain and India. The judges felt that its recent developments in digitally printed full color booklets were noteworthy. After only 18 months, the company’s investment in the production of ‘loyalty stamps’ has resulted in more than six billion labels printed and supplied all over the world. 

Reynders also promotes environmental sustainability, with a planned installation of more than 800 solar panels and investments to reduce water, gas and electricity consumption. 

As part of the Labelexpo 40th anniversary celebration, the awards evening had a 1980s theme and featured Tony Hadley, singer and former member of band Spandau Ballet, performing and acting as host for the night. Guests also had the opportunity to pose for photos with a replica DeLorean from the Back to the Future film, and play retro arcade games.


Chelsea McDougall is North America editor for Labels & Labeling.

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