Third Generation Dillon Family Ownership at Meyers Targets Sustainability and Package Printing
Minneapolis-based Meyers has never seen change or progress as enemies. Started in 1949, the family-owned business now has its third generation transitioning into full control, with Michael Dillon taking on the role of chief revenue officer, and his cousin, Chris Dillon Jr., being named CEO.
Michael Dillon notes, “The company started as a small print shop in Minneapolis and has grown to be an award-winning creator of innovative retail brand packaging, product labeling, and retail merchandising in-store displays for many Fortune 500 companies and other leading global businesses.”
None of that happened by chance or accident.
A Growing Purpose
Sustainability and a focus on the environment is at least part of what is driving the current evolution at Meyers, according to Dillon. “What we’re doing now is a deliberate focus on sustainable printing, especially sustainable packaging,” he says, primarily noting folding cartons and litho laminated corrugated packaging. But at the same time, Dillon stresses they are not walking away from signage or display printing, which he still considers a core part of the competencies the shop offers.
Signage and displays continue to do well, but sustainable packaging — and finding more ways to serve brands, customers, and the environment all at the same time — is a passion that shines through. “We want to have a greater focus on how to make print more sustainable,” he says. “We’re not anti-plastics, but we want them to be recyclable just like paper products. It’s going to be a long time until packaging is truly circular, but it is important to be part of that journey, and to be making things from renewable resources. We want to create products that can remain in the economy as long as possible, and with the smallest impact possible.”
He notes that elements such as how compostable a material is, how biodegradable, and how recyclable, are all things that Meyers is paying close attention to when it comes to the products it is creating for clients. Dillon believes that in the next 10 to 15 years, there is going to be a massive shift in the materials used to produce packaging. “We have a major focus on this across the company, and really in all of the product areas we look at.”
Dillon notes the reason sustainable packaging, in particular, has become a focus — alongside finding more sustainable options for the display and signage projects — is “because there is such a great need for this kind of thing in packaging, and it has such an impact. There’s just no substitute for sustainable packaging in other areas.” He continues, “Packaging can help you find a new product you care about, and understand if a brand aligns with your views of yourself and the world. It has a phenomenal ability to connect brands and consumers.”
And, because the need for sustainable packaging is growing exponentially, Dillon believe targeting this as a prime area of the business for the coming years is going to pay dividends, not only in growth for the bottom line, but also in the satisfaction of knowing they are helping to make a difference in improving the environment.
“A huge percentage of all plastic waste comes from packaging,” Dillon points out, “so we are at the beginning of a really important journey. Fifteen years from now, it’s going to be incredible to look back and see the changes, and the lowered impact of packaging on the environment.”
That said, while the ramp-up is new, Meyers isn’t completely new to the packaging space. Dillon notes the company has been producing labels and cards for decades now, and he sees both as just different types of packaging, making this new focus more of a growth from that, rather than brand-new business. “I don’t see it as leaving behind a part of who we were,” he says. “I see it as growing a product line that, until a few years ago, was quite small for us, but growing organically. And I want to continue to invest in it and grow at a rate that turns us into a sustainable packaging leader.”
No Print Left Behind
Labels and retail displays, Dillon notes, continue to make up the “bread and butter” of the Meyers operation. And while he sees the mix changing as the packaging division grows, he doesn’t see the company walking away from any of that business.
In fact, one of the other divisions the team is focused on that is small but unique, is a conductive inks business, where Meyers isn’t just printing ink on paper, but is producing functioning electrical components for customers in industries such as aerospace and medical devices.
“So much of what we do here has the ability to make people happy — to help them discover a new product or brand. But the functional printing, and working with aerospace and medical devices, has the ability to change lives in a serious way. It isn’t most of what we do, but I think it’s one of the most exciting because of that impact we can have on people’s lives,” Dillon adds.
The entry into conductive inks wasn’t planned. Dillon notes that while he can’t go into a lot of details due to strict NDAs, this work started with a customer who came to Meyers looking for someone to do some R&D work for an extremely technical process, and the company ultimately decided it could provide the high level of precision and quality needed. “We took it very seriously, and from there it spread,” he shares. “It’s been an interesting and growing product for us.”
To accommodate the growth in the packaging side of the business, as well as on the conductive inks side, Dillon says that they have “been on a bit of a spree” with new equipment purchases and upgrades, with everything from newer models of printing presses, to highly specialized equipment being added to the operation. “It’s one thing to do small packaging jobs, but as we grow in scale, we needed more equipment,” he says. “Plus, there is a lot of specialized investment in the infrastructure for conductive inks, so we had to buy some new equipment for that as well.”
And he has no plans to slow down, noting that Meyers will continue to upgrade and add equipment as it grows, with a focus on listening to its customers and ensuring it can offer the products and services that brands and end users alike are demanding.
But, he stresses, the investments have been in more than just the equipment. “We also make sure we invest in the team, and the environment needed to support them,” he says. “A lot of the work we do is hands-on, and has to be done in the office or the plant, so we want to make Meyers a place where they want to be, and where they feel supported. Yes, we’ve been buying new presses, but we’re also investing in new roles at the company — positions that didn’t exist before, and quality-of-life upgrades that make sure Meyers is a fantastic place they will want to spend their career at.”
As for the future, Dillon sees packaging continuing to play an increasingly major role in the products Meyers produces, but he is also paying close attention to what the clients in some of those individual segments — such as food and beverage, or health and beauty — actually need their packaging to do. That, in turn, “will dictate how we adapt to the marketplace, including where we might want to make additional investments or add new product lines.”
And his enthusiasm for print, and everything it can offer both now and well into the future, is contagious. “This is a really exciting time, not just for packaging, but for printing in general. There is a lot going on with the technology, the printing tech, the software, the manufacturing world — it is just a really exciting time to be in this industry.”