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CASE STUDIES

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If there's a particular sore spot you're having with your printing needs, we'll study your issues to the greatest detail and offer a wonderful solution.

leer logo

MAJOR AND SMALL APPLIANCE MARKET
Leer Inc.

When your most well-known products spend their lives outdoors, your brand needs to be able to stand up to the elements. Leer Inc., of New Lisbon, Wisconsin, is the leading producer of temperature-controlled storage solutions, including the iconic Ice Merchandisers found outside nearly every gas station and convenience store.

grocery store
The primary image on Leer’s merchandisers are the attention-grabbing snow-capped ice decals, but it’s just as important to the company that their logo be prominently displayed. The problem is that the environment where most of the outdoor Ice Merchandisers operate are wide open to weather, chemicals, repeated use and other damaging forces, making the durability of the Leer logo decal of utmost importance.

ice logo
Leer came to Empire with the challenge of creating a branded decal that would not deteriorate under a variety of unforgiving outdoor conditions. We began by examining the steel construction of each unit to determine the best adhesive to maintain an aggressive bond between decal and merchandiser.

To ensure integrity of the logo image itself, Empire recommended a domed application to provide extra durability and a high-impact finished look. Domed decals are topped with a crystal-line polymer coating that creates a 3D, or “lens look,” effect. The clear coating is resistant to UV rays, dents, scratches and abrasions, making it an excellent choice for outdoor applications. The customer is extremely satisfied with its look and durability, and expects the gloss and clarity of their brand image to hold up for years to come.

Major and Small Appliance Market: Leer Inc. (PDF)



fountain city logo

FOOD AND BEVERAGE MARKET
Fountain City

Fountain City, Wisconsin, located along the Mississippi has a rich history. It is home to the Monarch Public House, Wisconsin’s oldest operating tavern, and was the site of its house brewery, Fountain City Brewing Company from 1856 to 1965.

To celebrate that legacy, the owners of The Monarch decided to bottle a few pre-prohibition-era beer recipes. They wanted to maintain the historical accuracy of the labels and advertising for the beers as much as possible. Unfortunately, when the brewing company was demolished more than five decades ago, all the original artwork was also destroyed.

labels on bottles
But just down the river in La Crosse, The Monarch found a printing and labeling partner that had the talent and tenacity to recreate these vintage images. Working from antique beer cans and labels, the artists at Empire used a combination of hand-drawing and scanning to replicate images of Fountain City that had once adorned its namesake brews into print-ready digital artwork. The rarity and delicate nature of these samples added an extra layer of difficulty, but Empire’s core values are built on respect and integrity, so the folks at The Monarch entrusted their company’s artifacts would be in safe hands.

label on bottle
A few modern updates were required to meet government regulations and incorporate barcodes, but even those were done in such a way to preserve the integrity of the design. The finished products are faithful reproductions of the Fountain City Brewing Company’s original imaging, updated for use with modern printing, brewing, promotion, and advertising processes.

The care Empire’s team approached this meaningful project instilled a sense of trust. That translated into The Monarch selecting Empire as the sole provider for all of its printing needs.

Food and Beverage Market: Fountain City (PDF)



server products logo

MAJOR AND SMALL APPLIANCE MARKET
Server Products

Producing equipment for big consumer food companies and representing the images of such highly recognizable brands leaves little room for error. The folks at Server Products of Richfield, Wisconsin, know this all too well and take proactive steps to ensure their point-of-use food dispensing products not only meet operational expectations, but also protect their customers’ valuable brand identities.

soup label
This is no easy task, considering the environments in which Server dispensers, warmers and food stations operate. Heat, cleaning products and frequent use/handling can wreak havoc on branding labels. Any degradation or signs of wear can diminish the customer’s image in the marketplace.

Working with Empire gives Server Products management peace of mind that the branding decals and magnetic wraps used to customize their products for each customer maintain brand integrity. For each product, Empire conducts tests on prototype units to identify the most durable material/adhesive combination. The tests expose each decal to the same high temperatures and cleaning solutions involved in regular foodservice operations.

popcorn butter label
In addition, for each customer, physical color samples are referenced to achieve precise color matching using Empire’s Color Management System. The end results are highly durable branding label solutions that impress and delight customer after customer.

Major and Small Appliance Market: Server Products (PDF)



mathews archery logo

SPORTING GOODS AND LEISURE
Mathews Archery

Outdoor sports gear goes through a lot of wear and tear, under any number of conditions, and expectations for quality and construction are high. What most outdoorsmen aren’t as worried about, though, is whether the logos on their gear stay in place. That’s the concern of the manufacturer—and it’s a big one. When it comes to highly engineered, precise pieces of equipment like compound bows, placement and durability of brand labeling is particularly challenging.

logo on bow
There are limited options for logo placement due to the design of the bows, and factors such as the vibration caused by operation and exposure to the elements present challenges for adhesive and material selection. When a leading bow manufacturer experienced ongoing issues with its domed logo decals dislodging during use, it sought a solution that would keep their name right in front of their customer’s faces—literally.

logo on bow
Moving the branded decal was not an option, so Empire set out to test a variety of material and adhesive combinations to find one better suited to the world of archery. Application testing was done, putting various labels through the paces of actual bow operation. Adhesive testing identified the best alternative, and both Empire and the customer had a high level of confidence following the review of the data.

Since implementing the new domed logo application, the company hasn’t reported any instances of adhesive failure, giving them peace of mind that their brand visibility will remain intact.

Sporting Goods and Leisure Markets: Mathews Archery (PDF)



ergodyne logo

POWER TOOLS MARKET
Ergodyne

One of Empire’s customers, a leader in the development of workplace safety and protective gear, sells an innovative line of tethering rigs designed to prevent dropped objects on the worksite. Each rigging system is specially designed for the size, shape and weight of the tools it is designed to secure. Use the wrong tether, and the integrity of the rigging could be compromised. Several of the rigging solutions employ a bracket, which is attached to a power tool or other piece of equipment using a nut, a washer and an identifying tag/label.

woman with hardhat
The label is rigid and includes a product number, safety warnings and weight capacity specs. The information it provides is critical to the safety of the rigging solution and its rigid construction maintains durability. Problems arose, however, because the labels were actually too rigid, and began to warp and wrinkle, making it difficult to read the safety information.

tool with tag
Empire met with engineers at the company and inspected the damaged labels to determine the root of the problem. Empire then evaluated several materials for stability and durability, as well as for compliance with evolving health and safety standards. The team produced samples for testing and after rigorous evaluation to ensure they would maintain their form and function, the customer approved the new label, which is now the standard for this expanding line of safety gear.

Power Tools Market: Ergodyne (PDF)



basketball

SPORTING GOODS AND LEISURE

Labels as high-tech consumer engagement tools? Yes. It’s a thing. Product labeling has featured barcodes, QR codes, and the like for some time now, allowing customers to use smart phone apps to access added information. But as technology advances, how much further can a label go? One leading fitness equipment manufacturer decided to put that question to the test. A single strength training machine might give a gym-goer three or four different exercise options, but there’s only so much room on the steel framing to display instructional graphics.

This customer had been using polycarbonate decals surface printed with 3-D barcodes to make it easy for a smartphone user to scan and link to a demo video or track their workout using the company’s app. Recognizing the emergence of RFID-compatible smart devices, the manufacturer also wanted to incorporate RFID tags to leverage the added convenience of this “near field” technology that directly links up access to tracking capabilities or instructional YouTube videos without the extra step of physically scanning.


exercise machine


Easy enough, right? It turns out not all of the manufacturer’s label suppliers practiced disciplined quality control. Since all of the components of this solution had to match up in order for the technology to work, if the wrong RFID tag was attached to a printed label or the wrong barcode was programmed to a specific exercise, the end user would get none of the value, the gym owner would get a lot of complaints, and the manufacturer could lose business. Empire’s commitment to collaboration, problem solving, and exacting quality standards were the key to making this combination of printed labels and emerging technology successful.


rfid tags
Empire assigned a dedicated employee to production of the labels for this customer to ensure consistency, and we built multiple redundancies into the process to eliminate errors. Team members from sales and production worked hand-in-hand with the customer to address all of their concerns. Fitness fanatics are famously demanding and frequently early adopters of technology to improve their performance. Keeping this audience happy is the lifeblood of the manufacturer. Working with Empire gives them peace of mind and allows them to continue to innovate without worries about the quality and consistency of the instructional information they provide to their users.

Sporting Goods and Leisure Markets (PDF)



ITW logo

POWER TOOLS MARKET
Hobart/ITW-GSE

Time is money on the production line. At its Palmetto, Florida facility, industrial giant ITW-GSE produces generators and pre-conditioned air units that supply clean, reliable, and cost-efficient ground support to aviation customers in more than 100 countries worldwide. These power units require more than 20 labels, all of which had typically been sourced and stocked on individual rolls. Twenty-plus labels then had to be counted out for each unit in the parts department where they were kept in inventory and applied at various stages of the production process. If the count was off? Back to the parts department for more. That’s a lot of time and effort—and a lot of room for error.

woman with hardhat
With productivity improvement and quality assurance top of mind, Empire presented all the labels laid out in a “gang application” on a single sheet to company management, who were impressed with the ingenuity and creative thinking the Empire team employed. In less than a month, the new multi-label sheet was delivered to the customer site, freeing up inventory space and effectively creating a new QC process: if there was still a label on the sheet at the end of the line, something was missed along the way.

tool with tag
This new application eliminated nearly two dozen SKUs in inventory and the time previously required to count out the individual labels for each production item, resulting in significant improvements in productivity without sacrificing quality or durability. Following the successful rollout of the gang application on one generator line, ITW-GSE was so pleased with the results that they implemented the solution on eight other products.

Power Tools Market: Hobard/ITW-GSE (PDF)

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