Label King adds Domino N610i

California converter enters digital label production with Domino

Label King adds Domino N610i

From left: Robert Parker (owner & president), Yada Sousorn (press operator), Turi Fiske (digital production & marketing manager)

Label King, located in San Diego, California USA recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. With over 3.5 billion labels sold, the label printer converter has grown every year for the past two decades. Underpinned by a strong team of excellent employees, many of whom have been with the company for over 15 years, Label King continues to enhance their business with the addition of the Domino N610i digital UV inkjet label press, its first digital printing asset, which Labels & Labeling wrote about last year. 

Robert Parker, owner & president of Label King said, ‘My role is to oversee the business and make sure that we do our best to service our customers. We knew that digital printing would be important and a key part of our future, but the only way we could add a digital press was to build an extension to our building. It took over a year from the city to get the necessary approval and permit for the expansion, plus an additional six months or so to build it. In parallel to that, I knew that we would need to bring in an individual that would be able to wear many hats, from spearheading digital and managing our prepress, to redoing our website, changing our logo, and modernizing the company.”

In August 2020, Label King found that special person in Turi Fiske, digital production and marketing manager. She said, ‘I do all of the production management, scheduling, making sure we have material and inventory on hand. I also take care of the art management, making sure all of the files look good, all the colors are good, all the profiles are good, making us more efficient, updating our website, really working on a wide variety of things. That’s why I like it.’

As a prime label printer, Label King prides itself in providing more, and being an imperative part of their customers’ business. Parker said, ‘I like to think that we are a service company that makes labels. Labels are a commodity. There’s a lot of people who can make labels. But we want to give customers an excellent experience, giving them what they want, when they want it, how they want it, and ultimately helping to make their product even better so they sell more. It’s a win-win.’

Through a very thorough vetting process to determine who the best partner for their business would be, Label King reviewed multiple digital printing providers. Fiske said, ‘For me at least, I want something that's not complicated. I want it to be easy. I don't want it to be difficult.  We need a wide color gamut for the types of labels we print, and a support team to help us.’

Parker added, \We know there are a lot of good digital providers out there. So, one of the first things we did was a blind comparison of printed samples. We had probably 15 files we sent to six or seven digital providers. We wanted them to print the art files and send them back to us. Once we received all of them back, we wrote the name of each press manufacturer on the back of their labels. It was a completely blind test. We ranked them all on color accuracy, print quality of text, and overall image sharpness. And we narrowed it down to the top three.’

Label King then visited those three digital providers for in-person demonstrations and had them run a multitude of jobs on various substrates from art files that Label King brought with them.

‘We didn’t want to give them any time in advance to prepare,’ Parker said. ‘We wanted to show up on the day of the demo with files in hand, and see how difficult it would be, and how the labels would look.’

Domino was one of those three companies. Fiske said, ‘The funny part about this is we show up at Domino, we barely even told the team what material our samples are on, and then they hit the colors the first time. And it was the easiest process. We were able to achieve more, in less time.’  

Parker added, ‘And there was no concern from the demo room. Everyone at Domino did a fantastic job. And we tried to keep a poker face when we were there, but then Turi and I got into the car and we were both like ‘wow, that was easy!’  And at Domino there was great teamwork and great camaraderie.’

And through this extensive due diligence process, Label King chose Domino. The Domino N610i digital UV inkjet label press was installed and began running production in May 2022.

Parker said, ‘We started at zero and began ramping up. By our fourth month of production, our revenue from that press was over $100,000. Having the Domino has enabled us to increase capacity, keep existing business that otherwise we would have lost, as well as gain new business.’

‘As an example, last week I received a phone call from a brand owner in the food sector, a company with big potential.  Based on their large number of SKUs it would not be a good fit to run on flexo, but a very good fit for digital.  They needed 16 labels for a presentation they were having with Walmart. We received their art on Monday, we produced the labels the same day on the Domino, and they had their presentation on Tuesday. Walmart told the president of the food manufacturer that the labels looked amazing. We would not have been able to do this test run on flexo. From what started with 16 labels, the potential is millions.’

Fiske discusses how having Domino digital has helped change their business, making it more efficient. ‘There’s been multiple times where we get an order and we’re able to get it out the same day. Once the file is ready, we can get a rerun order printed within 15 minutes. From a production standpoint, it’s just been so easy.  There’s so much less setup.  The files are already on the press.  As long as the right materials are ready to go, we can print immediately.  It just takes all of the administrative work out of it.’

‘The amount of flexibility the Domino has given us, is huge, and it has a very wide expanded color gamut,’ she said. ‘We do a lot of spot colors on flexo, and the Domino allows us to hit a huge amount of those colors. The ink is so vibrant with really bright colors, which is important. Labels have to standout on a shelf.  And so having that vibrancy is definitely helpful. And I think it makes Label King stand out, as well.’

“Being able to print something and show our customer immediately, so they can see exactly what it will look like. Putting something tangible in their hands that they can see before they approve the production run. It’s peace of mind having press checks on the Domino.  The customer can visit, we can make a change to the PDF.  Just print it right away. We don't have to say, ‘OK, come back in two days when plates are ready.’ So it's just a nice tool to have. And it helps us build those relationships with the customer as well.

One of the key advantages that digital brings to label printing is a reduction in material waste. Fiske said, When we compare it to our flexo jobs, there’s no question that we are using less material running on the Domino. Also, our shop rule is if there is 500 feet or less of material remaining on a roll, we would generally throw it away because we can’t print a flexo job on that.  However, today we printed a 300-foot job running that material through the Domino. And we have a pile of those small rolls. So we are now able to maximize our material usage. It not only saves material, but it also saves time. It’s just a quicker and more efficient process.’

Fiske says that the benefits Label King has seen in partnering with Domino go above and beyond the press. ‘The amount of training and wide variety of support we've gotten from Domino has been so helpful. I call people that I know and they're able to provide tailored advice for what we need, it’s great.  Whether I call Sarah, or Glen, or Ernest, everyone has been so incredibly helpful. And I think Domino is the perfect size. They have all of the answers, and everyone there knows who we are. It’s very personal  I can’t imagine it not being Domino.’

Parker added, ‘The Domino difference is Domino. It’s the personalized service. And that’s huge. We don’t feel like a number. And it’s not just one person talking to us. It’s the relationships with multiple people at Domino. The Domino employees care about what they’re doing and really want to do the best job they can.  And you know, that to us as a small company is very important.’

Fiske concludes, ‘To put it super succinctly. The Domino N610i was easy to learn and it's easy to use, and luckily, we don't need a lot of support. So that's a huge benefit. But when we do need support, we know that we'll get it.’