Made in the Midwest: From Printer to Store Shelf

Posted at: 11/19/2012 8:30 AM
Updated at: 11/19/2012 8:47 AM

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Whether you're looking for a can of chili or household cleaner, that label you read may have been printed in Southeast Minnesota.

Thousands of sheets printed, millions of labels cut and stacked. From corn oil to Clorox, what our eyes see at the store is many times created in Austin.

Smyth Companies owns two plants in town. One, workers have occupied for decades where those recognizable labels are printed and soon grabbing our attention at the store.

At the second facility commercial printing has been done there for about five years.

"We do a lot of commercial printing for southern Minnesota, especially for Hormel," said Bill Hickey, president of Smyth Companies

Hickey says 40% of what's printed in Austin is for Hormel. A valuable customer, but not the only one. Other big names include Nestle, General Mills and Bath & Body Works.

"Our clients are east coast, west coast so Austin is a great place to drop ship," said Hickey.

Unlike most manufacturers cheap labor overseas isn't Smyth's main threat, it's the internet.

"The internet has affected commercial printing seriously and it's shrinking 5% each year. We've held our own in the commercial printing industry but it's an uphill battle but we're stable," said Hickey.

At the same time, Smyth is putting money back into its Austin workforce.

"The company invested 800,000 dollars in new equipment," said Craig Rosenthal, finishing shipping manager at Smyth Companies.

"The equipment we buy is very expensive," said Hickey.

If you ask Hickey's thoughts on his workers, he'll label them as some of the best in the country.

"It's important to keep hiring people and keep running the equipment," said Hickey.

Smyth Companies' headquarters is in St. Paul. It also has plants in Minneapolis, Boston and Colorado.