High-volume pie producer has relied on Columbine Label for quality, speedy turn-time, and more for 20+ years
“Stop the shopping cart.” This is the motto of RMP. This high-volume bakery knows their pies must be appetizing – and the packaging and labels must be appealing – to entice consumers to stop their shopping cart and pick up their pie.
In this discussion, Dave, partner at RMP, explains that labels with vibrant colors, color consistency, and color matching are vital in the bakery setting. First, the pies he produces will sit on the shelf next to cookies and cakes produced by other companies – color matching on labels is critical for the bakery’s brand. Second, a label with colors that appear faded can lead the consumer to assume the product is old and unappetizing. On the other hand, vibrant colors “stop the shopping cart.”
RMP produces and labels up to 100,000 pies a day – millions of pies every year – with a surprising number of label variations. Read on to learn how Columbine Label Company’s efficient processes and extremely quick-turn printing and delivery are critical to his business.
Columbine Label: Dave, how long has RMP been working with Columbine Label?
Dave: RMP opened in 2006, and we’ve been dealing with Columbine exclusively since then. Prior to that, we had another pie company called WCP, which opened in 1990 and ended up being closed by the ownership in 2005. I believe we started working with Columbine Label in 1992, so we’ve been with them for more than two decades.
CL: Wow, that speaks to loyalty and a deep, trusting relationship.
Dave: Columbine Label is actually my oldest vendor. I’ve dealt with them longer than anyone else I do business with.
CL: Dave, tell us about RMP. How many pies do you bake and distribute? Are you nationwide or regional?
Dave: We produce pies primarily for in-store bakeries for grocery store companies across the country. We look for self-distributing grocery chains, which means they own warehouses. The capacity in our facility is close to 100,000 pies a day. We make millions and millions of pies a year.
CL: Since you distribute to different grocery store chains, does every label say “RMP” or do you apply labels for the various outlets?
Dave: We do both. We label under our own brand, RMP. And we private label for some customers. For instance, we deal with a grocery company in Arizona, and the pies have their store’s label on them – every pie looks like something the store produced.
CL: From a labeling standpoint, that throws in extra complexity for you, because you don’t have one label for your blueberry pie. You might have a lot of different labels for your blueberry pie.
Dave: That’s correct. Just off the top of my head, we probably market our blueberry pie under six different labels.
CL: How many different pies do you make, Dave?
Dave: We started with about 50 items for our product offering. We pride ourselves in being pretty flexible regarding what our customer wants. By the time we get into different sizes, different labels, and different individual tweaks for our customers, we probably have close to 300 different items in size, shape, variety, or label.
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CL: Wow! I thought you were going to say eight or ten. You know: blueberry, apple, cherry. This tells me that there’s much complexity from the standpoint of ordering labels from Columbine Label Company and what you require of them.
Dave: It is a challenge. Obviously, we want to keep as little inventory as possible, as does every manufacturer. And it is complex. For example, when we run apple pies, we would run apple pies all day. We would produce 40,000 or 50,000 apple pies – and will have ordered the variety of labels needed. If, all of sudden, another customer orders apple pie, it makes sense for us to produce their apple pies in that production run. We’ll need to brand those pies with their label, and we’ll need those labels right away. Columbine has been wonderful working with us on short turn-times. I could call over there today, and in a lot of cases, have the labels I need tomorrow.
CL: That’s impressive, because it’s not like your company is right down the street. Columbine Label is located in Colorado, and your company is in Utah. We’re talking about immediate printing and overnight delivery.
Dave: Exactly. Obviously, that’s not the norm. No company wants to work that way. But in a crisis situation, Columbine has been really, really good to work with.
CL: Dave, is color consistency in labeling important when it comes to a food product?
Dave: A lot of in-store bakeries want to brand their bakery. They’ve got a logo. They’ve got colors they like. And that’s good. You walk into a bakery in a grocery store, and you want the products to have some consistency. The challenge is that there are so many different vendors involved. One vendor makes cookies, one makes breads, one makes pies, and one makes cakes. Yet the bakery wants the labels – the branded packaging – to be identical, with the same colors. Color variations are painfully obvious in a bakery setting. You may have pies sitting right next to cookies. If there’s any variation in the colors of the logos, the labeling, or the packaging, it becomes a real distraction. Color matching is critical in our business. The colors must exactly match the brand information we get from the bakery or grocery company.
Columbine Label: Plus, with food items, what if the colors are bright and appealing on one label – and on another label the colors are off and dull?
Dave: We use the term here “our product.” When we say “our product,” it includes the packaging and labeling. You need to be able to stop the shopping cart. You need labels that pop out at you. Yes, the colors absolutely need to be vibrant and attract attention. If they’re dull, people just walk right past the product.
CL: Also, they might think this bright label that pops is a newer, fresher product. With the duller one, they may think it’s been sitting on the shelf for two or three weeks.
CL: Over the years, have there been times when things went awry, which actually prompted your two companies – RMP and Columbine Label – to create a more efficient process?
Dave: Our processes have been in place for a long, long time. We’ve honed them over the years. Like you say, there are always things that go wrong. That’s an inherent part of business. Columbine has been so good to work with, and that’s one reason I’ve been with Columbine for so long. You talked about color. Several years ago, we picked up a huge chain, and color matching was a massive deal. To meet this need, Columbine invested in equipment to make absolutely certain that the label colors didn’t vary. Here’s what prompted that: I looked at my shelf, and I could see some minute color differences between labels. Columbine responded to my color matching need very quickly and took steps to make sure that didn’t happen anymore.
CL: The Columbine leadership team understood how important this was to your business and the fact that you’d just picked up a new, significant client. It sounds like their philosophy was not simply “we need to take care of RMP,” but they knew “we need to take care of RMP, so you can take care of YOUR customers.”
CL: Dave, is there anything else you’d like to add?
Dave: Label companies call all the time and want to show me their stuff. I don’t even look at them. I don’t shop labels. We’ve got that kind of relationship with Columbine Label. They are my oldest vendor. We have been with them forever, and probably will be forever. I have no reason to look anywhere else. They’ve always taken really good care of us.