Label Industry Notes Passing of Tom Staib (1964-2020), President of DWS Printing Associates
The label industry lost one of its most respected and charismatic figures with the untimely passing of Thomas Staib, president of DWS Printing Associates, on October 2, 2020.
Staib was a fourth-generation owner of a label printing company that has been operating continuously in the New York City metropolitan area since 1865. He joined the family business in 1987 and became its president in 1996. Sales more than tripled during his time at the helm of the operation, said his younger brother Andy Staib, vice president of DWS.
Always committed to expanding the firm’s capabilities, Tom Staib made an ongoing series of capital investments that included advanced UV offset, flexography, and hybrid flexo/digital inkjet. Under his direction, DWS became a leading full-service provider of labels and shrink sleeves to the craft brewing industry, which it serves along with other customers in the food and beverage markets.
Located on Long Island in Deer Park, N.Y., the company also has opened a new facility in Austin, Tex., fulfilling Staib’s ambition to give DWS a geographical footprint beyond its home region. In Austin, the company will print shrink sleeves on its new hybrid flexo/digital press and apply them to aluminum cans in-house – an application process that Staib first expanded into at the company’s Deer Park plant in 2018.
Andy Staib said that his brother left Long Island in mid-July to personally oversee construction of the new site. On September 27, while helping to unload some building materials, the elder Staib collapsed and was rushed to a local hospital, where he fell into a coma. He died five days later at the age of 56.
Admiration and Accolades
Tom Staib is remembered both for his exceptional acumen as a businessman, and for his warm, easy grace as a supplier, a customer, and a friend.
“He was very savvy from a numbers standpoint,” his brother said. “He was always very keen on efficiency and ROI, and he was not afraid to spend money on new equipment if it would mean better performance.”
Cary Crane, the former executive vice president and co-owner of Apple & Eve, bought labels from DWS for 20 years. “Tom was very passionate about his business, and was always looking forward to emerging printing technology,” he recalled. “He really was a visionary as a print company owner.”
Crane credited Staib and his team for being “instrumental in keeping us ahead of our customers’ changing needs. They had their own high standards that were equal to Apple & Eve’s high standards.”
“They were always there to help us when we needed something fast,” Crane said. “They were always willing to break the rules for us.”
“Tom was a problem-solving, can-do, customer supporting kind of guy,” commented another client, Fred Matt, president of F.X. Matt Brewing Company. “I loved doing business with those guys. Tom’s motto was, ‘do the right thing, and the business will come.’”
Thomas Cummings, an account manager at Heidelberg, was part of the sales group that closed the deal on the Speedmaster XL 106 UV offset press that Staib purchased at drupa 2012. He recalled his first meeting with Staib in the Deer Park plant the year before: “It was so clean, so professional – just first class. And that was my first impression of Tom – first class.”
“Tom, to me, was the best kind of customer,” Cummings said. “Tom was honest, he was a tough negotiator, he was adamant when he felt things could be better, but he was fair at the same time. Tom made you want to go the extra mile to help him achieve his goals and the goals of DWS.”
“Tom was one of our favorite suppliers,” said Matt, adding that as fourth-generation brewer, he felt a natural affinity for a fourth-generation printer like Staib. “He had a high like factor.” Crane, likewise, stressed the warmth of the connection between his family-owned business and its family-owned label provider.
“Tom was a beautiful soul, inside and out,” Crane said. “We became family to each other. It was not a typical vendor/manufacturer relationship.”
‘We Will Carry on the Legacy’
According to Cummings, three things make DWS Printing Associates special within its industry: “their attention to detail, the focus on continuous improvement, and their desire to make employees and customers feel like family. And, I believe that all three of these have been instilled in the organization by Tom.”
“He loved DWS,” declared Andy Staib. “He thrived on it. It was an extension of himself.” Business continues under the guidance of Andy Staib and other family members including Tom Staib’s son, TJ, who represents the fifth generation of family ownership.
“We will carry on the legacy,” stated Andy Staib. “Tom and I always used to agree that failure is not an option. I’ll see to it that we succeed, in Tom’s honor.”