Tailored Label Products Inc.

Waukesha County Small Business of the Year

With a passion for innovation as its motto, Tailored Label Products, Inc. has been doing difficult jobs for more than 20 years in the manufacturing of one-of-a-kind custom label products.

Now in its 25th year, the Menomonee Falls printing company can add another award to its previous designation as Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year in 2006.

The 64-employee firm has been selected as Small Business of the Year by the Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce – representing its third straight year as a top 10 Waukesha County business.

Tailored Label Products is recognized nationwide for high performance labels, UL/CSA labels, custom labels, die cut adhesives, short-run and long-run labels as well as unique bonding solutions. Tailored Label’s team of application engineering and printing specialists are a significant resource to a number of industrial companies in southeastern Wisconsin, as they design work and co-develop printed labels and product ID tags for clients.

“We have a reputation for taking on very complex label design, or pressure sensitive parts design – the adhesives that help hold together dashboards, HVAC systems in cars,” said president Mike Erwin. “So, these (adhesive labels) are used as assembly aids in building electrical and plastic components. We have a very good reputation for innovation.”

Beyond continuously innovating and fulfilling the challenges presented by its nationwide clientele, for six consecutive years the company has invested its pre-tax earnings into new technology, Erwin says.

“In the past year, we have been party to at least five patents, and we are working on more now,” Erwin said. “Rather than just binding printed labels that would go on high volume food products, we tend to be highly specialized, and more moderate to low volume in what we produce.”

Beyond its focus on technology and innovation, in 2005 Tailored Label was named one of the Best Places to Work in southeastern Wisconsin by Milwaukee Magazine and MRA, The Management Resource Association. In 2006, the company received The Best Workplace in the Americas designation from the Printing Industries of America/Graphic Arts Technical Foundation, the world’s largest graphic arts trade association.

Both Erwin and company founder Todd Bence place an emphasis on recognizing employees through regular monthly and annual recognition programs, but also in spontaneous gestures.

“I pulled into the parking lot one day, and I noticed that one of our employees who works well with our clients had bald tires on her car, so we went and bought her two new tires without telling her,” Erwin recalls. “Or, maybe it’s a hunter that gets a new expensive bow because he did something exemplary, or handing out a gift certificate to a woman’s store. It’s the fun, spot surprise for unique effort where our employees go over the top. The fun of creating those opportunities is part of our culture.”

Tailored Label was awarded the 2008 William Pierce Award by the Menomonee Falls School District for the company’s commitment to the Second Chance Program, a non-traditional learning and employment opportunity for at-risk students. The students enroll for a two-year study, and rotate to four different manufacturers, working a six-hour day followed by two hours of classroom instruction. Tailored Label is currently mentoring its third student. Due to a plant closing earlier this year, the Second Chance classroom provided by a local manufacturer was discontinued, so Tailored Label made a full-time classroom available in its facility for 14 students and their instructor.

“We are involved in at least a dozen local charities – it’s a continuous bias,” Erwin said.

Tailored Label Products Inc.

Address: W165 N5731 Ridgewood Dr., Menomonee Falls

Website: www.tailoredlabel.com

Industry: Custom label printing and bonding

Revenues: $12 million (2008); representing a 20 percent increase over 2007

Employees: 64

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