Smyth receives ‘Best Workplace’ designation

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Noted for its employee relations

By Tom Wilmoth

Smyth Companies, Inc. has been designated as “Best Workplace” for 2008 by the “Best Workplace in the Americas” program. 


    The program is administered by Printing  Industries of America/Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (PIA/GATF), and is awarded to  companies who demonstrate exceptional practices in the area of human resources and employee relations.

    Ben Witt, general manager of Smyth’s Bedford facility, said it took the company two to three months to put the information together in applying for the award. “It’s nice to know that we have a positive message to send to our customers, our    employees       and    the community,” Witt said of the company, which is one of the largest label producers in the United States, receiving the award.

    The Bedford facility employs about 140 people and its workforce has actually grown by 22 positions the last two years. The facility has also upgraded, adding a new printing press in 2006, according to Witt. That occurred after a plant in Minnesota closed. The Bedford facility also has recently added a new finishing machine.

    “We had to absorb the work that was out there,” Witt said of adding the new press, which can print on plastic. He said it’s important to keep up with the technological advances in the industry. “We do some amazing things here for a small company in Bedford.”

    The Bedford facility has a fully-staffed art and design department and can serve a customer’s label needs from initial concept to finished product. There is also a digital photography studio and its own IT department watches over its 38,000 finished product files. “We’re very excited to get this award,” Witt said. “We’ve always believed we’re a good company to work for.”

    During a typical week, the Bedford plant will produce some 40 million labels.

    Witt said Smyth tries to celebrate milestones within the company and back in August held a Fun Day for employees. “It’s good to acknowledge progress that’s made,” he said. “We have a very dedicated work force.”

    The Bedford facility operates 24 hours a day, five days a week and also runs on a lot of Saturdays. Witt said the label market is “highly competitive.”

    Workers today look for a variety of qualities in a workplace, and PIA/GATF identified eight human relations areas that employees consider when evaluating a current or prospective workplace.  These include management practices; work environment; training/development opportunities; financial security; work-life balance; recognition and rewards; health and wellness; and workplace safety.  In reviewing Smyth’s submission for consideration for the award, the PIA/GATF judges found that Smyth’s qualifications based on the criteria were “among the best in the country,” stated Michael Makin, president and CEO of PIA/GATF.

    “Smyth Companies has been family run for over 100 years and I couldn’t be prouder, especially during these troubled economic times, of our management who has guided this company in an ethical, intelligent and caring way,” said Smyth CEO John Hickey.  “This company treats employees like family, and I believe that focus has sustained us all these years.”

    Smyth produces labels for a variety of consumer goods markets.  In addition to primary labels for packaging, Smyth produces in-pack and on-pack promotional labels; P.O.P. displays and application equipment.  The company has headquarters in St. Paul, Minn., and operates seven production facilities including the Bedford facility.  Smyth employs about 380 people.