Fortis Empowers Customers With Packaging, Printing Education at 2023 Solutions Summit
While Fortis Solutions Group has grown rapidly over the past decade, expanding to 22 facilities across North America, the label and package printing company has made sure to maintain its personal touch with its brand owner customers. That message was amplified to a collection of approximately 100 attendees at the Fortis Solutions Summit held on Thursday, April 20, 2023 at Fortis’ facility in Lewisville, Texas.
Visitors to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex plant saw how the company has invested in its diverse array of offerings, with pressure-sensitive labels, flexible packaging, shrink sleeves, folding cartons, and label applicator equipment all on display. In addition to the label and packaging samples produced on a variety of technological platforms, attendees were treated to facility tours and multiple educational sessions that highlighted the latest from Fortis and trends in the packaging industry.
On the facility tour, attendees were able to check out the multitude of equipment located in Lewisville, spanning flexographic and digital printing. Specifically, visitors saw a fleet of eight Nilpeter flexo presses from the FA and FB series, along with two HP Indigo 6K digital presses.
Kicking off the event, John Wynne, CEO of Fortis Solutions Group outlined Fortis’ growth strategy and how it has been able to maintain its personal touch. He displayed a map of Fortis’ several locations from coast to coast and explained that while the company’s footprint has grown, it has maintained its focus on the various communities it serves.
“It’s not the dots on the map that are important,” Wynne said. “It’s how the dots are connected that are meaningful for you.”
Taking a deeper dive into how Fortis’s capabilities are able to help brands meet their needs and the top trends in the industry, Tim Ecklor, marketing communications manager for Fortis Solutions Group, led a discussion of how packaging has the power to perform several important functions when engaging a consumer and enhancing a brand. These key functions include the power to:
Ecklor explained that while the visual components of packaging are key to its ability to attract consumers, the most successful packages are often the ones that entice shoppers to pick the package up off the shelf and hold it in their hands. When consumers touch the product and handle it in the store, Ecklor stated that it increases the likelihood that they end up putting it in their cart. Packaging design that includes embellishments and enhancements, he said, adds to a package’s attractiveness.
On the engagement side, Ecklor highlighted multiple examples of how packaging can enhance the consumer’s experience with the brand. These included packages that provide multi-use functionality, such as a single-serve package of butter featuring a lid that serves as the spreading utensil, and packages that encourage social media posts, in which the consumer takes it upon themselves to promote the brand.
The way packaging can have an impact on a variety of social causes is another area that Ecklor highlighted for brands to explore. One example he shared was Gate City Brewing, an Atlanta-area brewery that launched its Freedom Fighter India pale ale, featuring labels that promote awareness of human trafficking.
Following Ecklor, Derek Sims, director of sales for Fortis Solutions Group, took the stage to discuss sustainability and the protective elements of packaging. On the sustainability side, Sims expressed the importance of Fortis’s membership of the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership, which allows the company to benchmark itself against its peers and collaborate with other members on sustainability initiatives.
Internally, he described how Fortis works to ensure that the labels and packaging that it produces can be categorized among three key sustainability attributes, those being ‘fit for recycling,’ ‘sustainable resources,’ and ‘recycled content.’
Fit for recycling, he said, can be applied to any product that can be recycled, which applies to labels, shrink sleeves, flexible packaging, and folding cartons. Sustainable resources, meanwhile, refers to packaging that is made using renewable resources, rather than petroleum. This often refers to plant-based packaging materials. With recycled content, Sims said this refers to packaging that has been made from material that has been recovered in the recycling process, which he added does not lead to any detrimental attributes in performance.
“There’s no performance compromises, and with that you’re supporting recycling,” Sims said. “It’s a small premium, there are no performance compromises, and it’s easy to get into your product lines.”
Packaging’s power to protect, Sims explained, has been enhanced by a variety of technological advancements spanning security and anti-counterfeiting solutions. These solutions include the printing of microtext, micro two-dimensional barcodes, and embedded security fonts.
Speaking to the power of digital printing, a technology that Fortis Solutions Group has invested significant resources in, Rob Daniels, digital business manager for Fortis Solutions Group, discussed the multiple ways brand owners can leverage digital technology to personalize their packaging.
Citing an eye-opening statistic that consumers are 76% more likely to purchase products from brands that can add elements of personalization, Daniels described some standout examples. The most recognizable example of packaging personalization comes from Coca-Cola for its groundbreaking Share-a-Coke campaign. The campaign started with a run of labels that included a variety of individual names printed on them, but soon expanded into phrases, song lyrics, and nicknames. Additionally, Daniels explained that with the rise of e-commerce, consumers can now visit Coca-Cola’s website and customize a printed label to achieve a one-to-one printed packaging experience.
The final session of the morning featured a panel conversation with two Fortis customers, Candace Delaney, category manager for H-E-B facility procurement, and Jon Birdwell, director of warehouse operations for the Ben E. Keith Company, a Texas-based food and beverage product distributor.
Delaney said that as a major grocery retailer, H-E-B has benefited from its partnership with Fortis due to Fortis’s ability to adapt to the ever-evolving food industry, and its ability to react quickly to changing circumstances. This was particularly important during the height of pandemic, she said, when stores were running out of labels as consumers were stocking up on more groceries than usual.
“Everyone was buying meat and we were running out of every kind of label,” Delaney said. “We had phone calls multiple times a week about what we could prioritize, what we could get faster. Without these labels, we’re not accommodating USDA regulations.”
Birdwell shared that he has been especially appreciative of Fortis’s role as a partner with his company. Recalling scenarios where the company needed labels delivered quickly in order to ship on time, he lauded Fortis’s ability to provide what was needed on short notice.
“Everybody gets hit with salesmen, but the relationship we’ve had with Fortis is what Ben E. Keith is all about,” Birdwell said. “We’re a partnership company and I’d consider Fortis to be the same. They’ve stepped up numerous times when needed.”
Cory Francer is an analyst at NAPCO Research. He formerly served as editor-in-chief of Packaging Impressions.