Companies to Watch: Meyers Printing Companies (June 2013)
In business more than 60 years, Minneapolis firm demonstrates the wisdom of smart growth and leveraging core competency to become a leader in innovative card printing.
By Adam Perrotta, Assistant Editor
You might not expect a company that started out as a commercial printer in 1949 to now be a leading provider of code-based digital download, activation and gift cards. But Minneapolis-based Meyers Printing Companies Inc. has carved out a leading space in that market, producing hundreds of millions of cards for some of the world’s best-known brands, while continually evolving by developing cutting-edge card products that combine security, functionality and sustainability.
A Natural Fit
Meyers entered the card printing business by a bit of happenstance, according to Gregg Temple, president of Meyers’ label and card group. “I can’t say we set out to be in the card printing business,” Temple tells Paybefore. “It really came about organically.”
The company was involved in printing data labels, such as the Certificate of Authenticity labels on the bottom of laptop computers that feature product keys for software activation and operating systems, for computer hardware and software makers. Impressed with Meyers’ capability to perform secure, unique data printing, a major software maker approached the company in 2004 with a problem with its digital download cards. “They were having trouble with the control of their codes, and seeing duplicate codes, missing codes and unreadable codes,” Temple says. The software maker also wanted to move away from using traditional PVC for its digital download cards due to the high costs, longer cycle time and multistep process required to print cards that included scratch-off portions, as well as environmental concerns about using PVC.
Getting the ‘Green’ Light
Recognizing an unmet need, Meyers got to work, leveraging its extensive experience in variable data printing (VDR) to deliver a card product that would deliver unique codes securely, accurately and in a way that was eco-friendly. The end result was Meyers’ patented Greencard, which offered clients a single-step manufacturing process, short cycle time, 100 percent verification of code and a completely recyclable product. The cards were made with two-ply paper that was coated to look and feel like a traditional plastic card and featured innovative tear-strips (instead of scratch-off areas) to conceal each card’s unique coding. The Greencard also was capable of incorporating holograms, high-resolution barcodes, magnetic stripes, PIN codes and RFID technology, providing a highly customizable product for client companies and brands.
Getting to Know Meyers
Marketplace Names: The Meyers Printing Companies Inc., Meyers, Meyers Label and Card Group, Meyers Retail Marketing Solutions, Meyers Engage
Open for business: 1949
Line of Business: Download, activation and prepaid cards; primary product labels; promotional labels; large format in-store signage, temporary and permanent displays
Secret Sauce: Vast internal resources for design, product development, R&D, program management, variable data management
Founder: Gerald R. Dillon
Business Philosophy: To grow our business by seeking opportunities where we can best utilize our innovation resources and capabilities to address our customers’ business challenges.
We do this by:
Business Model: Sell direct to Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies
Something You Might Not Expect: The wide diversity of solutions and products we offer under one roof.
The Greencard was a hit right from the start. Soon, Disney—which also had been having its own problems with its PVC card codes—signed on to use the Greencard for its Magical Membership Card, which enabled cardholders to play online games. Entertainment software maker THQ adopted the Greencard for digital downloads soon after. But the card found uses outside the strictly digital domain, too. Jazzman’s Café & Bakery—a college campus, corporate office and hospital-oriented coffee and dining brand—employed the Greencard to offer customers codes for special offers to drive in-store traffic. And when popular TV host Bill Nye “the Science Guy” opened his Climate Lab exhibit in 2010 at the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland, Calif., visitors received Greencards that used RFID technology to track their progress through the exhibit. Since then, the list of companies who have utilized the Greencard has grown to include heavy-hitters, including Starbucks, Nokia and Verizon.
‘Revealing’ the Next Step
In March, the company unveiled the next step in the evolution of its product line. Dubbed Reveal, the next-generation card product features a patented opening flap, which “reveals” extra card real estate that can be used for graphics, custom ads and messages, inserted coupons, instructions, warranty information—or whatever else the client wants to display. “Companies can take advantage of all four panels and use the Reveal card for just about anything: multiple or secondary offers, cross promotions, software downloads, product activations and as gift cards,” Temple notes. Since Reveal is such a new product, Meyers’ customers are still figuring out how best to use it, but Temple expects client brand owners to “come up with ideas for uses that we haven’t even thought of yet.”
Meyers will continue to produce other card models, but Reveal will be the firm’s “flagship,” Temple says. While Reveal represents a leap forward, it will retain many key features of what made Greencard so successful, including the unique tear-strip and coated paper composition, which enables it to be easily recycled after use. “We’re proud to have found a smart way to deliver significantly more content in the same footprint [as a regularly sized card] while reducing impact on the environment,” he says.
For Meyers, the key to success has been staying focused on what it does well and not trying to expand into other segments of the card market that are outside of its core competency of high-security, high-reliability data printing. “We’re really a niche player, strictly focused on these products,” observes Temple. “There are plenty of plastic card manufacturers out there. We’re trying to bring innovation to the business challenges we see, and we’ve got a big toolbox to do that.”
One arena in which those tools are likely to be particularly handy is in the adoption of near field communication (NFC) technology. While most cards it produces now are code-based, Meyers has long had the capability to produce RFID inlays, and its cards’ two-ply technology is suited to accommodate the newer NFC chips as well, giving Meyers the capability to incorporate any contactless technology its clients desire. Meyers’ NFC business is mostly prospective at the moment, but Temple says the company expects to be well-positioned for the day when NFC takes off. “We’re poised and ready, and expect new opportunities as NFC emerges,” he says. For Meyers, it would be the next step in a process of focused, natural growth that has paid off in a big way.