Sandy and Dennis Bullied were looking for new adventures in 2007 after running a successful caravan park outside Geraldton. Little did they know that in just a few years they would be running one of the city’s most successful label printing companies
Take a look around you. Labels are everywhere.
From the sticky ones you find on jam jars and sauce bottles to integral ones on prescriptions and operating equipment. It’s a business which we may take for granted but equally it’s showing no sign of slowing down as consumers demand ever more products whether they’re found on shopping aisles or dockside in packing boxes.
“Everything, when you think about it, has a sticker on it,” says Sandy Bullied, owner of Perth business, Label Magic. “So after deciding to go into manufacturing, we thought that would be a good industry to move into after we sold up the caravan park.”
Choosing a specialist industry like label printing was a smart move but it also required a steep learning curve from Sandy and husband Dennis who had no previous experience in the sector.
“We bought an existing business and the staff in situ had over 200 years experience between them alone. Right from the start we were heavily involved in all aspects of the business and, for the first two years, I’d say it was our apprenticeship.”
Sandy realised early on that it would pay dividends for her to be fully across any new technological advances in the industry, such were the high costs of manufacturing anything, let alone high volume labels, in Australia.
“I realised that we needed to be reinvesting and upgrading equipment and premises to remain competitive and, as the first female label printer business owner in Perth, it was tough going,” she says. “I had to hunker down and seek out information because nobody was going to help me out locally.”
Sandy went to multiple expos and seminars and came to the conclusion that the company was failing to capture short-run digital print jobs.
“We weren’t able to service short run work and were missing opportunities to offer existing clients extra services so I got in touch with Simon at QLM (Queensland Label Makers) to see if we could join forces, and that’s when everything changed.”
The cost of running label printing machinery was prohibitively expensive for smaller runs so Sandy and Simon devised a plan to reduce the cost of manufacturing by sharing work between Perth, South Australia, Melbourne, Sydney and Queensland. A side effect of that meant that Sandy had to reluctantly lay off staff and close down out-dated equipment.
“We focus on digital printing here in Perth which opened up the opportunity to grow exponentially by using our other manufacturing platforms with state-of-the art technology. Effectively, it gave our clients access to choose the quantity that suited their commercial needs best, without compromising on quality. No job is too big or too small – whether it is a single label or one million labels.
“By shutting off our machines, we’ve saved half a forest thanks to the speed of the new machinery which takes just two to three days to print millions of labels.”
With digital technology there are no plates or dyes, which means clients save valuable dollars on preparation costs as there are no films or dyes required. It’s a flexible approach which has won Sandy and her team high-profile clients including Mundella Foods, Swan Valley Eggs, Golden Ravioli and The House of Honey.
Demand from the community is broad and includes mainstream hospitals, aged care facilities, not for profit organisations all with the critical need of specific labelling.
“Labels are our passion, whether it is an emerging boutique business or a well-established company – we strive to serve our clients with the best in terms of service, quality and integrity,” says Sandy.
For such a familiar product, creating a successful label isn’t as simple as it may seem.
“Designing labels is actually a very intricate process and we help clients create a label which will best serve the purpose it’s designed for. For instance, we ask what is the label for, what is it being applied to and where is it going to be stored - these are all factors in designing a label specific to the clients needs.”
It’s this attention to detail which has resulted in Sandy and the Label Magic Team winning the 2014 Gold award for Excellence in the food category, competing against companies from around the world. And it’s not just inert packets and boxes which get the Label Magic treatment.
“We’ve been working with fruit producers - particularly avocadoes and pears - and provide labels for all primary producers. We get a great buzz walking down the aisles of supermarkets, hardware outlets and other stores to see our labels promoting a broad range of well respected and popular food and beverage products that are enjoyed by many consumers.”
Despite Sandy’s hard-won experience, she says that she spends a fair amount of time ‘managing the expectations of clients’.
“Everybody has high expectations these days, they always want the best price, the best looking labels and fastest delivery. We spend time working with clients on the design of the label and will work hard no matter what the shape of the product to get the best results.”
As part of the expanding Label Magic family, Sandy works closely with factories in Vietnam and Malaysia.
“QLM invested in the Vietnam factory and recognised that its facilities for workers were sub-standard,” she said.
“We’ve worked hard to improve conditions, like a canteen for the 125 staff to have lunch, proper toilets and a weekly wage. We’re also currently installing disabled facilities and the Malaysian factory is upgrading too. You could literally eat off the floor, it’s so clean and tidy,” she smiles, proud of the knock-on effect her Perth business is having on the lives of workers in south east Asia.
Thanks to smart investment in future technology and using off-site equipment, Label Magic is well placed to expand over the next few years.
“It’s been worth all the hard work and turmoil we’ve been through, including selling off machinery and letting people go. We had to change but by looking at the business through new eyes, it was clear that the digital era couldn’t be ignored. Having Simon as a mentor has also been a key part of our success,” she says.
“I’ve always looked beyond Perth to grow new business. There are no barriers to commerce these days; orders can come from anywhere at anytime.” PL
Contact Sandy at Label Magic on (08) 6144 2450 or visit labelmagic.com.au for details