Customer story: MKS Plastics

Digital Heat Transfer Labels

The MKS Leadership Team: (left to right) Michael Vaughn, production manager; Robert Latiolais, vice president; Robert Killebrew, managing member; David Smith, president

Founded in 2014

Tickfaw, Louisiana is located just 60 miles north of the world-famous city of New Orleans, but the two places could hardly be more different. One notable similarity, though, is that like the Big Easy, Tickfaw is also home to a thriving business that operates around-the-clock.

MKS Plastics was founded in 2014 by three entrepreneurs who saw a need in the market and filled it. Large plastics manufacturers weren’t meeting the needs of small and mid-size petroleum producers, an industry that plays a major role in the state’s economy. Catering to those businesses, MKS started producing plastic pails and lids for motor oil and other industrial fluids. Today, the company has grown from its original eight employees to 34 full-time staff and operates 24/7 to keep up with customer demand.

Produce labels in-house

For a while after opening its doors, MKS relied on other suppliers for the labels needed before pails could be shipped to their customers. But as their customer base grew and the number of SKUs they produced skyrocketed, ordering from outside producers became problematic.

MKS aims to provide high-quality products at a competitive price, delivered to their customers in a timely manner. The plastic pails and lids from MKS easily met or exceeded their customer expectations for high quality and competitive pricing, but waiting for the externally-produced labels to arrive slowed the process considerably.

Another issue with outside label suppliers is their minimum quantity requirement, which often required MKS to order more labels than needed and keep them in inventory until needed for a future order. Due to their limited shelf-life, MKS sometimes had to discard labels they’d purchased.

“We had to find a way to way to deliver our customers’ orders more quickly,” said Managing Member Robert Killebrew. “And we came to realize that the best way to do that would be to produce the labels in-house.” So MKS looked at digital printing vendors.

“We were a little hesitant at first,” he said. “Our expertise is in plastics, and nobody at the company knew a thing about printing. We wondered whether we could find someone with the skills needed to operate in-house digital label press.”

Xeikon 3030

Killebrew and his colleagues evaluated multiple print technologies and vendors, ultimately settling on the Xeikon 3030. Xeikon’s flagship label press, the dry toner-based 3030 prints at 1,200 dots per inch (dpi), and is particularly well-suited for the heat transfer label applications like those used at MKS Plastics.

Not only did MKS not have to recruit press operators with prior printing experience, they were able to staff their new press with existing staff promoted from another department within the company. MKS operators underwent a week of instruction on basic operation of the press at Xeikon’s headquarters in suburban Chicago and a second week of hands-on training in Louisiana.

Speed upgrade to Xeikon 3300

Less than a year after installing it, demand increased so dramatically that MKS ordered a speed upgrade on their Xeikon 3030 to a Xeikon 3300 providing double the print speed. “We produced pails for about 50 SKUs before getting our Xeikon press,” said Killebrew, “and in less than a year, we’ve added another 150 SKUs.”

In the coming year, MKS plans to acquire new equipment enabling them to increase their pail manufacturing capacity substantially to meet rapidly-increasing customer demand. According to Killebrew, MKS Plastics customers are getting a much quicker turnaround time than ever before. “And we couldn’t have done it without Xeikon.”

Find out more

Discover more about the Xeikon Label Discovery Package, an entry-level digital label press. The Label Discovery Package consists of a Xeikon 3030, an entry-level web-fed digital label press and the new entryDcoat, a digital converting line that can be used inline or offline with the Xeikon 3030.

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