But BP Solutions has honed its skills over the past 18 years and successfully grown its labels and packaging business, bolstered by Asheville, North Carolina’s booming craft beer industry — a significant source of new label business.
“The folding carton work and the label work is just more consistent throughout,” Cotten says. “For us, it’s a real differentiator. There really isn’t another packaging company of our size in our region that has the breadth of capability we have.”
Cotten says his interest in the label business was solidified after he attended the Digital Packaging Summit, an annual event hosted by PRINTING United Alliance that offers attendees three days’ worth of content and networking centered entirely on digital label and packaging production.
After talking with his peers in the business, Cotten decided the digital label opportunity was too good to pass up. BP Solutions invested in a Mark Andy Digital Pro 3, a toner-based press incorporating in-line flexographic and converting stations. Because the company’s background is in commercial printing, Cotten explains that the in-line converting processes on the Digital Pro 3 were beneficial, as the company did not need to invest right away in both printing and finishing equipment.
“We were trying to find that sweet spot of affordability and capability, and the Digital Pro 3 made sense, specifically because we don’t have any converting equipment for labels,” Cotten says. “[With standalone digital], you have to buy the press, then you have to buy the converting equipment as well.
“So we were all in $450,000 for the D Pro 3 and all the options we got versus trying to go a different route, where it’s going to be closer to $1 million,” Cotten points out.
Mark Andy was able to connect the company with a similar business in Eastern North Carolina that also added a Digital Pro 3 to its commercial printing repertoire. Having a peer company nearby willing to help BP Solutions get up to speed on the equipment and share best practices was a significant advantage in the early days of BP Solutions’ digital label journey, according to Cotten.
Now, years after the convergence decision, the company’s label and packaging business is thriving. “Every day there’s a new label customer,” he says. “We’re uncovering them left and right. We’ve also done some marketing, trying to get the word out there’s somebody in Asheville that does folding cartons and labels.”