CL&D Graphics Inc.

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About 30 years ago, Brian Dowling Sr. dreamed of starting a printing company in Waukesha County. His vision came together in 1978 when he established a small company, with one small printing press, called Custom Label & Design.
Over the years, CL&D, as it is now called, grew steadily. The company has added pre-press and plate-making capabilities, has utilized a flexographic printing process, has moved into a larger facility (60,000 square feet) and has opened additional plants.
"This year, under the leadership of Mike Dowling, who took over when his father retired, we’re approaching sales of $45 million," said Chris Keller, human resources manager of CL&D. "And we’re proud of our accomplishments."
The company found its niche in packaging and print labels for consumer products.
"Our largest customer is SC. Johnson Co.," Keller said. "We print a lot of labels for their products, including Raid, Off, Glade and Windex. We also print labels for the products of Rustoleum, Con Agra and Mead Johnson corporations, among others."
Flexographic printing, she explained, is a newer application for consumer product labels that were previously printed by other methods. It utilizes a press machine printing up to 10 colors. In the press, there’s a plate, a rubberized matte type of material that holds the image going around a cylinder. Ink is applied when the machine is turning and the web runs through it. During the process, the plate flexes, hence the term flexographic.
"We can print with the same high standards and resolution of other methods and can do it more easily, more cost-effectively," Keller said.
Keller said service and skills set CL&D apart from its competition.
"We’re the best at what we do," she said. "We credit the vision of the owners and their ability to manage the business and determine where they can be successful. In fact, last year, we won the Best Managed Company award from the Tag and label Manufacturing Industry. We also credit our employees. This place is energized constantly. Every day, our people are excited and positive. There’s an urgency to do things right, to exceed customer expectation. We’re so proud of what we do."
June 25, 2004, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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