We welcome Sam Donofrio, our New Midwest Account Manager

https://www.linkedin.com/in/samdonofrio/

We are very excited to announce that Sam Donofrio has joined the JH Bertrand family. He comes to us with 27 years of booklet label experience with companies such as Inprint Systems and CCL. “It’s rare to have an employee start with JH Bertrand who needs such little training because he was so well trained by his previous employers”, said Jeff Bertrand. “I’ve known Sam for over 27 years. I am thrilled to have him on our team. Not only is he a very good person and fits our family culture perfectly, but his knowledge of the product is outstanding. ” Sam is based in the Chicago area and will handle Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Michigan, Tennessee, Western Ohio, and Kentucky.

You get what you pay for…

The old saying you get what you pay for applies to the label business as well. “Rock bottom priced” converters often have thinner margins and can’t provide exceptional customer service to those clients who need this kind of service. The big problem occurs when the companies who need exceptional service don’t understand what they are buying when they pick suppliers by price alone. Often, these companies think that they can demand a high level of service and still get the low price. This doesn’t happen. A thin margin makes it tough to hire enough staff to give customers enough attention. As a specialty label converter (who doesn’t sell by price alone), we require a lot of steps and checks to make a high-quality product. It takes a lot of people to make things work well… well trained customer reps, engineers, quality inspectors, top-notch pressman and etc to be successful. Our projects are often complex so our customers need us to spend time with them to make sure that their jobs are done right.

Another problem you often see with low priced converters is missed delivery dates. Low priced converters have longer lead times because they overbook their schedules. They have to because they need the volume to make thin margins work. They aren’t as concerned about inconveniencing the customer because a low price is so seductive. I believe that they sincerely want to make the delivery dates that are requested, but often reality (and the volume strategy) gets in the way because your job is competing with so many others. Low priced converters will give you the date requested, but often end up asking for a few extra days when the ship date nears. These types of operations turn their customer reps and salespeople into master apologizers because they are always trying to smooth over missed deadlines.

The real shame of picking the commodity label manufacturer is that when the customer finally realizes what they really got with the low price, it’s too late to go back. The price is now a rock-solid fixture in the MRP system. Nobody is going to go to their boss and say that they now have to switch to the “higher priced” guy (which is really a reasonable price with great service) because they cannot live with the lack of service from the current supplier. This means the buyer and the company are stuck and have to suffer until the pain is too great from mistakes to continue with the current supplier. A lot of money can be lost between the supplier selection time and the time the company realizes that they have picked the wrong supplier to meet the need. Only when the company accepts the fact that they made a mistake can the company be freed from the commodity trap.

JH Bertrand offers true value (and a great ROI) by providing a fair “middle of the competitive road” price with bulletproof reliability, on-time delivery using standard freight methods, solid quality, and enough personnel to give your job the attention it needs.

Label compliance is the key advantage of using a booklet label

The most common advantage that we see for a booklet label is its ability to expand real estate for compliance copy. This is information that a governmental authority requires you to provide the end user so that your product can be legally sold. If it’s not part of your product presentation or minimized, then you put your company in jeopardy of many nasty repercussions which may include fines, recalls or being shut down. No matter how big your company is, the government has endless amounts of money to throw at the problem. You do not. The best way to be in compliance is to put all the required information on your product’s label.

Many of our top customers choose to be conservative and offer more information rather than less. This is a smart strategy and great insurance. They understand that prevention is the best way to avoid a lot of needless regulatory costs which may occur with a non-compliant label.

Jeff Bertrand

And the prosecutor asks… “And where was the information located…”

Hopefully your answer was “inside the booklet label affixed to the product.” Of course, if a prosecutor is asking that question it was probably located somewhere else.

Product manufacturers must keep in mind that product safety is about providing key information with easy access 24/7. It’s exciting to see how technology can offer so many more options, but it may be a major mistake if moving the information to the internet opens up the company to product liability arguments. Booklet Labels offer your company a secure way to provide information that is always there, and won’t fail for a lack of a charge. With the information on the product, you have a good argument that your company did what it could to make the product safer to use.

Imagine the worst case scenario- Your company chose to have the information accessible only by Smart Phone. Your end user is using
your product and reaches for his/her phone for more information and
the phone is dead. Who knows how that scenario ends….

Advantages of a Booklet Label in the era of fast changing technology

The Smart Phone is in its heyday. There is virtually nothing it isn’t able to do particularly as IOT or the Internet Of Things becomes a reality that allows everything to communicate. Every day, new applications are being found. Conversely, printed booklet labels are under pressure for being a “limited” technology.  But, when you look deeper, there are some INCREDIBLE advantages to booklet labels that will last for years to come. I have listed those advantages below.

  • Instructions/information are affixed DIRECTLY to the product rather than being accessed from a device that may require multiple steps to get to the information.
  • The end user doesn’t have to be tech savvy to use it. Those who haven’t grown up with technology may resist it. 
  • In our litigious society, booklet labels may be the best legal defense against product liability because the information is on the product. You can just hear the prosecution…”And where was the information located..”
  • You get a HARD COPY with the product.
  • You don’t need an expensive, complicated network to use them.
  • They offer ways to build a deeper, layered defense against counterfeiting.
  • They offer a way to open up your graphics and put the “scary” information inside the booklet label. 
  • They don’t use batteries.
  • They don’t break. 
  • They won’t have a catastrophic malfunction. 
  • They can’t be hacked. 
  • They offer a simpler presentation. Complexity can create unanticipated problems and costs.
    Booklet Labels are certainly still a relevant, powerful way to present information with many advantages. With that said, our view is that both technologies are necessary, and complementary not mutually exclusive. Combining technologies can make a product package far superior than what may be currently presented. Keep that in mind when you are designing your next product package. Call us for ideas.

Happy New Year

 

 

I wanted to thank our customers, employees and suppliers for another great year at JH Bertrand. Thank you very much! We couldn’t have done it without you!! We wish you and your family a safe and happy 2017.

Pictured above are my 3 kids (L-R) Jack (18) , Ashley (14) and Julia (14) who are growing up way too fast.  I am sure if you have kids, you feel the same way about your kids. It seems like just yesterday my kids were in diapers sitting in high chairs eating cut up bits of fruit and veggies. Where did the time go??? Now it’s more like “Dad, can you spare some extra cash…” LOL! I couldn’t imagine my life without them.

Thanks again for a great 2016. Look forward to working with you in 2017.

Best Holiday Wishes,

Jeff Bertrand

 

 

How to get better quotes…

It’s a little “secret” in the label industry that when we don’t know key information, we have to be conservative with our assumptions. This means we have to add more cost to the quote than might be necessary in order to avoid losing money.  To get better, more accurate quotes (which can often mean better pricing) , here’s a list of what we need so we can avoid inflating a quote to cover our costs.

    1. Overall booklet label size?
    2. How many pages?
    3. How many colors in the booklet? On the base label?
    4. How many versions? What changes on the version?
    5. What is it being applied to?  Bottle, Box etc
    6. What is the application temperature?
    7. What is the storage temperature?
    8. Quantities?
    9. If it is auto or hand applied?
    10. What is the label unwind number?
    11. What is the max roll size?
    12. Is there something extra needed like variable code printing or bar codes?

We understand that not all the information is always available during the quote so don’t worry about not having all the information. We just wanted to make the point that more information will make quotes more accurate which translates into a smoother process for everybody involved. Happy New Year to you and your family.

Regards,
Jeff Bertrand

 

The FDA is attacking patient inserts again!

The Food and Drug Administration is going back at the patient insert industry (PI industry) that mainly involves pharmacists and other drug professionals. The newest proposal will require the elimination of the paper insert in lieu of putting it all on the internet.  This does not include those areas where the patient/consumer receives the PI directly.

 “The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or the Agency) is proposing to amend its prescription drug and biological product labeling regulations to require electronic distribution of the prescribing information intended for health care professional, which is currently distributed in paper form on or within the package from which a prescription drug or biological product is dispensed.” FDA is also proposing that prescribing information intended for health care professionals will no longer be permitted to be distributed in paper form with the package from which a prescription drug or biological product is dispensed except at provided by regulation. ”   FDA-2007-N-0363

This proposal is pointed at those companies that manufacture PI’s which are often glued to the top of large bottles of medication. The “bulk” materials are often repackaged in smaller containers to be given to patients/consumers.  (This is only about 4% of JH Bertrand’s business, but it is a very interesting story to us) The proposal is to require this information to be online only and to forbid it from being on the product package.

A year ago, this idea was part of a bill that was moving through the US Senate and House of Representatives. A few senators removed it from the bill (H.R.1919- Safeguarding America’s Pharmaceuticals Act of 2013) and the PI industry breathed a sigh of relief. Now, the FDA is back at it again.

PPLA which represents the manufacturers of patient inserts and a US senator ( Susan M. Collins) have written the FDA in protest of this proposed rule. They argue that shaky networks, power outages and rural locations will put patients and medical personal at risk. Furthermore, they argue that during natural disasters there may be no access to the internet. And, many communities around the country still have limited internet access. You can see that they have a point as power seems to be less consistent than it used to be. And, of course, every other day we are hearing about major computer system being hacked ie Sony Pictures being the latest creating huge issues for all involved.

Paper is bulletproof. It’s doesn’t need a computer or phone to be powered up to read it. It can’t be hacked. Paper is the best back up system that exists! Everybody can use it; All you need to do is be able to read.

Conversely, the FDA argues that professionals have wide access to the internet and that the patient information  in paper form is wasteful and unnecessary.

Certainly, JH Bertrand is on the side of the PI manufacturers as paper backup is being proven over and over again to be a smart move for all involved.  We hope the FDA will drop this proposal and follow what Congress debated and decided last year.

The location of the FDA document is http://federalregister.gov/a/2014-29522

The dangers of single source supply

The trend we see everyday in the labeling and packaging business is the desire to pair down the supplier base- sometimes to a single source of supply. The main argument is that is saves money by giving the buyer a bigger spend (more leverage) with fewer suppliers. It is also believed to make the supply chain easier to manage. Fewer moving parts as the theory goes.

But (and it is a big but), there is a significant downside. With fewer suppliers, there is risk that a “problem” could end up being a catastrophe for the buyer. One of the best examples of this is Lululemon and their single source of the Luon fabric. The company had a quality problem with their fabric from their single source supplier that forced them to do a major recall of their very popular yoga pants.  You may recall that the pants were too thin making it embarrassing for many who were practicing yoga with the Lululemon pants on. The company was forced to do a major recall, but had no other supplier to turn to while the supplier with the problem tried to solve the problem. In the end, they lost their long time CEO Christine Day who had grown the business 5x since she started. They lost 2 billion dollars of market cap on the day Ms. Day resigned.  The end result was a lost CEO, 2 billion dollars of market cap reduction and a blistering in social media that destroyed the image the company spent years earning. All this came from a very lean supply chain!

We’ve seen the same thing in the label business. A number of booklet label buyers in chemical and pharma have  elected to go to single source. The result isn’t quite as dramatic as Lululemon, but we have heard that those companies are getting inconsistent service which means missed deliveries and slower response times. If their single source plant is too busy…well….they just have to wait until there is press time.  That’s no good in today’s fast paced distribution networks. It could also mean something much larger if something happens to the plant like a sale, a fire, a natural disaster, bankruptcy, management change etc.

Smart companies realize that single source is a disaster waiting to happen. In fact, there is a counter trend now toward risk mitigation which is questioning the practice of trying to skinny down the source of supply to a point where a “hiccup” could cripple the company. Buyers should think twice about  making their supply chain too lean or they risk severely damaging their companies.

If you want to know more about the Lululemon story, there is an excellent write up written by the Stanford Closer Look Series. It’s called Lululemon: A sheer Debacle in Risk Management.