By Mike Vieira | Mar 14, 2023
El Paso, Texas
Industrial pressure-sensitive labels
Becerra has been in his current position with GLabels for about two years, though he has been associated with the company, in one way or another, for nearly a decade. Founded by Jose Gerardo, the label manufacturer was originally located in Juarez, Mexico. While labels were once manufactured on a single used machine, the company has since grown to include more equipment and create more sophisticated products. After a move from Mexico to the U.S., Gerardo retired from active work, now heading up the Board of Directors. Becerra leads the day-to-day operations.
The company creates labels for a variety of industries ranging from aerospace and electronics to medical, food, and beverage. However, Becerra says the majority of their work currently comes from the automobile industry.
Although most of GLabels' production is done in high volumes, the company also does shorter runs. They'll soon be entering the consumer market, which will likely mean even smaller runs than they typically do today. Becerra says, "The label industry is very traditional. It doesn't change too much over time, but we are the ones that are always adding new equipment and taking advantage of new technology. In this business, the more colors you can print, the more sophisticated you are. We can print up to eight colors. We have some competitors that can only print in one or two colors."
Expertise in the specialized materials customers often need to meet their individual requirements, and the ability to do intricate laser cutting, further enhance GLabels' edge over the competition.
Raw materials -- in the form of paper and various plastics for the labels as well as inks -- are sourced in the United States from various regions, and the company has seen troubles over the last few years in getting the supplies. Becerra says, "In 2021 and part of 2022, our delivery times went from one or two weeks to almost 20 weeks. That was a great setback for us., but we were very successful in managing our inventory. We had to increase a lot of our inventory levels and use double-sourcing sometimes in order to satisfy our customers' requirements. Fortunately, that worked out for us."
The shortages have now eased somewhat, and price increases are less frequent, but the situation often still requires negotiations with customers on pricing and materials availability.
GLabels has a small sales force feeding its continued growth, and they sometimes use outside sales vendors to help with making inroads to new markets. An important additional avenue of exposure is through the company's recent focus on social media and website improvements. "We have been increasing our traffic there, and it has led to opportunities that we didn't have one or two years ago," says Becerra. "Big businesses like Campbell’s Soup and Black & Decker have come to us because of our website. We are taking the steps to be in the top of mind for our customers and prospects."
The company sees a lot of competition for business both locally and worldwide, but Becerra says, "One of our key advantages is the quality of our labels. It's one of our main strengths along with, of course, our customer service and 99 percent on-time delivery." Although, GLabels ships to customers all over the globe, the vast majority of the labels the company produces are shipped to local El Paso area warehouses for large customers, then shipped on by the customers to the individual manufacturing plants that will use the labels, most often in Mexico.
Challenges: "Selling business-to-business takes a long time," Becerra says. "For example, going from prospect to customer for a big company takes about a year and a half because there are a lot of processes to go through." Additionally, unexpected world events -- such as last year's four-month strike in Finland that disrupted paper availability worldwide -- can create problems in the supply chain and therefore delay delivery and revenue.
Opportunities: The planned addition of new digital equipment will further expand the company's capabilities, and the expansion into consumer products will mean shorter lead times and lower volumes to generate profits.
Needs: Continued careful inventory management in order to overcome supply chain problems with minimal disruption to order delivery.