Blaine print and mailing company expands to digital labels

By Emily Hamann
The Bellingham Business Journal

A longtime Blaine mailing company has started a new division, and hopes to take advantage of a growing print industry: labels.

In September, AMS Print and Mail Specialists made the investment into the digital technology, and started up a brand new labeling division. New digital label printers offer the same high-quality colors and finishes and efficient small-run customization as their regular paper printing counterparts.

In recent years, Coca-Cola has seen huge success with its “Share a Coke” advertising campaign, in which each bottle of soda read “Share a Coke with…” and listed a common first name. After the campaign launched, sales went up 2 percent, according to a 2014 Wall Street Journal article.

That’s the power of variable labeling. And with digital printers, it’s cheaper and more versatile than ever. Before digital, standard turnaround time for a run of labels was around three weeks, General Manager Dale Vander Stelt said. Now, it’s between three and five days.

That means if a company wants to do a special promotion for a Seattle Seahawks game, for example, they can place their order on Monday and have the labels on products in time for the game Sunday.

Digital printing also means less waste, because companies only have to order as much as they need for a short amount of time.

“Part of the beauty of digital is we’re only printing only enough for the job,” Vander Stelt said. “We’re nimble. We’re able to print only what the client needs.”

AMS began in 1989 as a mailing business, handling bulk mailing such as advertising.

With its facility less than a mile from the border, many Canadian companies use AMS as their American partner for direct mail advertising.

Now, AMS has around 20 employees and an official post office facility in the building. They ship such a large volume of mail, it wouldn’t fit in the Blaine post office. They get a discount on postage for the volume, and if they package their mailers to maximize efficiency for the post office.

A postal worker arrives once a day to pick of the mail and send it directly to the post office hub in Seattle.

They print and send out direct mail marketing and other mass mailed documents — including jury summons. They send out 4 million summons a year, President Dave Freeman said.

“We ruin a lot of people’s day,” he joked.

More than a decade ago they started in printing. They also offer finishing — folding, binding, gluing mailers together to get them through the mail. New digital printers have made the latest trend in direct mailing possible — small runs of targeted, customized marketing.

“That is where the print industry is going,” Freeman said.

With new technology, the mailers can be designed specifically for the people receiving them.

“Every piece can be unique in appearance,” Vander Stelt said. These new options means that direct mail marketing can be finely targeted to potential customers. “Mail is still an effective way to market.”


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