From mashing soybeans to printing sophisticated labels? Certainly, not the usual journey for a narrow web label converter, but precisely the path undertaken by LabelTec, Inc. in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Randy Hargadine’s mother and father started up cottage-industry Western Brand Tofu in 1982. His father was a retired professor and his mother a volunteer at a local food coop who enjoyed natural foods. Although they liked the idea of owning their own business, cooking tofu became quite laborious involving big pans over hot stoves. When they needed labels for their tofu containers, Randy’s mother defied common wisdom and bought an early-generation Mac computer SE with an 8-inch screen and did her own designs. At the time, labels were created with camera distortion and Randy’s
mother decided to distort the artwork mathematically for a better image. When a local grocery store chain liked the look of their labels and asked them to create more for other products the Hargardines bought a tabletop one-color press. Soon, other small companies in the area began to see the labels in grocery stores and asked the Hargadines to make labels for their products as well in various die sizes and shapes.
Within a few years, labels were generating more revenue than the tofu. Randy Hargadine, president, LabelTec, recalls his father saying, “I’m good with not standing over a hot stove all day. Buy me a printing press and let’s make labels.”
And from these unusual roots, Budget Labels (later LabelTec, Inc.) was born. The Hargadines left the food industry in 1983 and pursued their passion for making high-quality labels that were designed to sell. Label printing became the company’s exclusive focus and they began by creating lots of labels for a lot of small companies.
The dedicated label business started in their garage with a two-color Allied Gear Stack Press in 1988. That same year, Randy joined the business and they moved out of the garage and into their current facility in northern Colorado. As the business grew, they bought a Comco Cadet six-color press and a Rotapress system to keep up with the growing demand. Much of the business at that point came from veterinary and large agrochemical companies which remains the backbone of their business.
Today, the $4 million business has loyal customers in the Agricultural, Food & Beverage, Health & Beauty, Nutraceuticals, Medical, Craft Beers and Spirits and most recently, Cannabis, segments. The company also offers flexographic printing for booklet labels, metallic labels and stickers, peel-back and specialty labels.
According to Randy, LabelTec’s growth has been based squarely on outstanding service. “Our turnaround is as good as any in the industry -- almost always within five working days. Our 5,000 square foot warehouse is loaded up because we focus on custom jobs and inventory a wide variety of substrates, dies, adhesives and liners. And since 2001 - we do just about everything in-house. If something goes wrong we can fix it within an hour on the flexo press and in even less time on the Xeikon. We like to say, ‘Get the order, get it done right, and get it out the door.’”