Tailored Label Products targets millennials

Tailored Label Products Inc.
W165 N5731 Ridgewood Drive, Menomonee Falls
Industry:
Labels
Employees: 100
www.tailoredlabel.com

According to Mike Erwin, millennials are key to the future of the manufacturing sector. Erwin, chief executive officer of Menomonee Falls-based Tailored Label Products Inc., has undertaken a targeted effort to hire younger workers.

“It’s not just give them a job and throw some benefits at them – it’s what can we do to help with their development and growth,” Erwin said.

Tailored Label was an early adopter of the Butler-based GPS Education Partners program, and had a GPS classroom in its facility until recently to train high school students in manufacturing.

Dina Vees, Waukesha County Technical College printing instructor, learns about the work her student, Dave Sella, performs at Tailored Label Products.

Erwin has been using several strategies to attract millennial workers, including developing a pipeline of talent through the GPS program, recruiting from Waukesha County Technical College and Carroll University’s printing programs and soliciting family referrals.

“All the awards and recognition that we’ve gotten in the metro area, that recognition…has people beating a path to our door,” Erwin said. “The diversity of what we have for careers here is also a cool thing for millennials. We have a variety of entry points into our business that fit different skillsets.”

Industrial warning labels printed at Tailored Label Products.

The GPS classroom was moved to make space for TLP’s expansion. The company added a new lab at the end of 2012 following its acquisition of the label products division of Norcross, Ga.-based Stratix Corp., and Erwin plans to make another acquisition soon.

Labels manufactured at Tailored Label are used in a variety of applications: from scratch-off stickers used on gift cards to warning labels for industrial machinery.

The company, which recently received its second Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year award and has been named an Inc. 5000 company six years in a row, is driven by innovation, Erwin said.

Tailored Label employees work with a variety of materials – polymers, papers, urethanes, foams, adhesives – to craft unique custom labels. It also offers precision die cut adhesive foam for assembling electrical or mechanical parts.

The company is capable of manufacturing labels from a quarter inch to 100 feet long. It makes thousands of variants of sizes and materials.

Clients include Milwaukee-based Rockwell Automation Inc., Brown Deer-based Badger Meter Inc. and Switzerland-based Pentair Ltd. Tailored Label ships its products globally.

Tailored label is a 30-year-old company. Erwin purchased part of the company from one of the original owners in 2003.

“Since that time, we’ve almost quadrupled the size of the company” through heavy investment in talent and technical capabilities, he said.

Tailored Label has grown from 34 employees in 2003 to 100 employees today, and now has another plant in Norcross, Ga., sales offices in North Carolina and a distribution center that will soon open in Mexico. Erwin has hired five new employees this year, and expects to add another three to four by the end of the year.

During the same time period, revenue has grown from $5.25 million to $20 million, and Erwin expects further revenue growth for 2014. Tailored Label has also secured about seven patents under Erwin’s leadership, which it had never pursued before.

While printing on polymers and precision cutting labels can be challenging, TLP has developed proprietary machinery configurations for specialized custom work, for which it holds the patents.

“The innovative products are for patient management, crowd control, electronics, telecommunications and automotive clients,” though TLP can’t reveal specifics, Erwin said. “We’re in the back room for some really big brand names, and they don’t want people knowing that we invented it. They basically use us as a sidekick.”

Some of TLP’s capabilities include adding metallized films, color matching, printing on a wide variety of plastics, laminating and pouring urethane layers.

“All of these are variants of multiple processes past printing that make it more exotic, expensive and clever,” Erwin said.

Different varieties of adhesives are used depending on the application. If the label is holding on to a car’s dashboard faceplate, TLP uses an extra strong adhesive. But if it’s a label that asks a credit card user to call and activate the card, it should peel off easily without residue.

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