From Record Label Printer to High-End Packaging Provider DISC Graphics Changed with the TimesAugust 2014 By Erik Cagle, Senior Editor
Take a walk through the history of any successful, longtime print provider and you will find a fascinating tale of humble beginnings and major paradigm shifts in product and service offerings that enabled the firm to evolve and grow long after the needs of yesteryear became a mere footnote.
A stunning example of changing with the times is offered by DISC Graphics, a multimillion-dollar specialty packaging solutions provider with a 200-employee army based in Hauppauge, NY. Believe it or not, this printer debuted in 1969 as an in-plant provider.
A bit of trivia is involved for hard-core fans of music: Remember Pickwick Records/Pickwick International, a music label known for its budget albums, children's releases and compilations? That company, which was subsequently sold to PolyGram Records in the late 1970s, actually employed legendary singer/songwriter Lou Reed as a staff songwriter. During his stint there Reed wrote and recorded songs for generic, forgettable artists, but also met fellow Pickwick performer John Cale, and they would move on to form the Velvet Underground.
Reed and Cale were not the only ones to cut their teeth with Pickwick. DISC was the label's in-plant, producing labels for the LP albums, not to mention 8-track and cassette tapes. The record label and those music formats would soon disappear, but DISC Graphics found itself evolving into new and exciting directions that have sustained the company through today.
A High-End Specialty Focus
When Don Sinkin, the firm's chairman and CEO, took the helm in 1986, the business consisted of 17 employees, with sales in the $1.8 million range. Today, DISC Graphics is renowned for its specialty packaging goods that serve the entertainment, pharmaceutical/nutraceutical, health and beauty, specialty food, personal consumer electronics and luxury goods markets.
Margaret Krumholz, president of DISC, notes that while the company does handle more pedestrian types of work "to put lumber through the shop," the bulk of its jobs are decidedly high-end. Its breadth of services is fairly expansive, primarily folding cartons but also includes mini flutes, hand assembly, tip-on services and pressure-sensitive labels. DISC also has the ability to use DNA for anti-counterfeiting measures that help thwart product tampering.
"We're being as innovative as possible, especially given the spaces that we're competing in," she says. "Being competitive is extremely challenging for us, largely because we're in a high-cost area. The critical part of driving cost out of the process is efficiency. We're constantly training our employees through Six Sigma training, lean manufacturing techniques and ISO certification."