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  • 04 Jul 2016

E-commerce label converter goes digital

Sheetlabels.com is a growing label converter based in upstate New York. E-commerce and ‘micro run’ orders have been cornerstones of success for this young company.

Upstate New York-based SheetLabels.com is not your typical label converter, its president Adam Gray says. In fact, it’s not a label converter at all.

First and foremost, SheetLabels.com is a software company masquerading as a company that makes labels. ‘At our core we’re a software company,’ says Adam Gray. ‘Our software powers our entire business.’

The company is completely reliant on e-commerce sales and has built a reputation on rapid delivery. Customers can find Sheetlabels.com with a simple internet search, and because of savvy SEO marketing on their end. This translates to about 60,000 unique visitors to their website each month. ‘They’re all looking for a label,’ Gray says.

SheetLabels.com caters to small businesses and start-ups, particularly in food and beverage, spirits, craft wine, chemical, automotive, nutraceutical, cosmetic and manufacturing. ‘These are the guys who are ordering labels at 3am on a Saturday night because that’s when they have the time.’

No order is too small. Jobs can be as few as 10 or 25 printed labels. An average run is around 10,000 labels, and Sheetlabels.com ships 200 to 300 orders each day.

‘To a lot of flexo shops, that’s small,’ says Gray. ‘Compared to a lot of commercial print shops, it’s impressive. I’m somewhere there in the middle.’ SheetLabels.com guarantees orders are shipped to the customer in four business days, and in some cases same day if a rush order is placed. After a customer places an order online, within three minutes the job is on the press floor with the use of the company-developed software.

Teenage entrepreneur

If Gray’s business model is unique to the industry, so was his start. He was just a teenager and still in high school when he started the company as a label broker. He worked after school and in study halls and was the only student in his high school allowed to leave class to answer his cell phone. ‘I didn’t have many friends because of that,’ he says, laughing. ‘I had clients who had no idea I was 15 years old.’

Gray, now 30, may not have been prom king, but his tenacity paid off. He graduated high school in 2004 and four years later he was north of 1 million USD in sales and had half a dozen employees. In the fall of 2014, SheetLabels.com expanded its manufacturing footprint to a 34,000-square-foot space in Glens Falls, New York, of which it currently occupies 19,000 sq ft. At the same time, Gray invested in a Domino N610i digital UV inkjet press and, for finishing, a Rotoworx 330 by Gonderflex.

And there’s room for growth. Today, Gray employs 30 people and is approaching 10 million USD in annual sales, he says. ‘I still believe there are a lot of market dollars to grab onto in our niche market.’

Gray credits his Domino press with attracting customers in nutraceutical and craft beer, wine and spirits. He expects the increased capacity will add 3-5 million USD to his revenue over the next few years. Since installing the Domino in 2014, he’s seen his revenue grow 17 percent in 2015, and anticipates a 30 percent growth in 2016. In addition to the Domino, his fleet includes his first offset press, which he modified with a mounted die-cut unit, two Xerox digital sheet-fed presses, and three additional sheet-fed presses dedicated to blank labels.

What makes SheetLabels.com attractive, Gray believes, is customers who are looking for different ways to buy labels. ‘A lot of what we do today is instant response and instant gratification,’ he says.

‘All over the business world, people are offering one-day shipping, we have to adapt to that expectation.’

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chelsea McDougall is group managing editor for Labels & Labeling.

She comes to the magazine with a background in print media. She has won numerous journalism awards and reporting fellowships. Chelsea’s work has been featured on CNN and Huffington Post Live.

 

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