Lightning Labels

By Chris Meehan | Aug 01, 2016

Company Details


Denver, Colorado



Ownership Type





Custom labels

With the ability to get high-quality labels printed and shipped within 48 hours, Gary Paulin and Phil Bowman are living up to the promise of their company's name.

"We enjoy a really loyal client list," says Paulin, Lightning Labels' director of sales and client services. "Some of our clients have been with us for more than 10 years."

Lightning Labels makes custom labels for a wide range of industries. Clients include food companies, breweries and wineries, and health and wellness brands.

Even for new products and customers, it provides quick turnarounds. "We're able to ship after proof of approval, within two to three business days or 48 hours after prints are approved, they're being shipped," Paulin says.

"That is fairly unique in our industry. We see competitors, even in the digital space, shipping within a week." Business is good as a result. "We've grown to over $10 million this year," says Paulin.

He elaborates, "We experience double-digit growth every year. We have a really aggressive digital marketing team and we're an e-commerce provider so the majority of our prospects and clients come to us online."

Given that there are hundreds or even thousands of companies on the internet that promise quick turnaround times and cheap, high-quality labels, that growth alone is an impressive testament. "In the niche we're in, offering a top-quality product, dedicated customer service and sales support and providing it at a very competitive price is kind of unique," Paulin contends. "A lot of places in the print industry you can get two but not all three. We pride ourselves in offering a top-quality product, an uncommon level service, and all at a highly competitive price."

The company offers labels and stickers of all types from wine bottle labels to bumper stickers and labels for lip balm containers to give an idea of the breadth of offerings. The company can print labels and stickers of any quantity in any format. "We have hundreds of custom dies for common shapes and sizes," Paulin says.

"We've also got the capability to do any shape with a laser cutter or we have two die providers in a two-day shipping point and we can have any die made pretty quickly," Bowman adds. "If it's a larger quantity, we'll recommend the customer buy the die. . . . If it's a very small quantity -- kind of a one-and-done thing -- we can any shape it with the laser."

While a custom die may ultimately produce more unique and less expensive pieces than a laser-cut sticker, Bowman says Lightning Labels will advise a client to use a laser-cut label or one of their existing dies if they want in lower quantities.

Since the company uses digital imaging to print, it can produce hundreds of different images in a run for a client, making it more flexible than other forms of printing. "We've run jobs with 200 to 300 different SKUs for the same customer," Bowman says.

While the company has printed hundreds of thousands of labels for the same customer, Paulin explains that the company is also ideal for smaller manufacturers. "That small to medium-sized business or startup can have, for a couple hundred bucks, a wonderful, high-quality looking label."

"The majority of our clients are repeat clients who come to us with print-ready art, but we do receive inquiries and work on a daily basis with customers who need design work. Sometimes it's tweaking what someone's already developed or sometimes it's scratched on a piece of notepaper and the designers we have on staff will design it from scratch," Bowman explains.

Challenges: "There's so much competition. More people are entering this niche. It's really simple online to make a presence and make it look like you've done this for ever," Paulin explains.

Opportunities: "We're uniquely positioned to take advantage of changes. There are tons of new verticals that are popping up," Paulin says.

Needs: "Lightning Labels has grown really fast," says Paulin. "We've been in the same building since 2002 and are looking to move into a facility that's two and a half times larger than what we have now."

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