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October 10, 2022

J.S. McCarthy, Augusta printer with 160 employees, invests in the future

people with machine Courtesy / J.S. McCarthy At right, Jon Tardiff, president of J.S. McCarthy, said investment in high-tech machinery is designed to meet growing demand in the folding-carton market.

The market for folding cartons is growing, said J.S. McCarthy Printers in Augusta.

Now the company is focused on a strategy of continuous investment to add high-tech machinery to serve the growing sector, with an emphasis on the food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic industries, according to a news release.

A flatbed die-cutter is on order, scheduled to be online in late 2023.

J.S. McCarthy, established in 1947, the 100% employee-owned company is one of the oldest and largest sheet-fed printers in the state, according to a news release. The company was established in the commercial print and finishing market and today operates from a 150,000-square-foot facility, employing 160 individuals operating 24/7. 

For the printer, the flatbed die-cutter is the second such machine, in a portfolio that also includes three folder-gluers and two machines that can both mass-produce cut shapes — called die-cutting — and apply metallic foil to substrates such as carton board — called hot foil stamping.

The equipment comes from Swiss packaging supplier BOBST, which has its North American headquarters in Parsippany, N.J.

Additional investments include a sheeter and two 41-inch eight-color presses.

Together, the machinery aims to accelerate workflow and handle a diverse range of box styles – for example, processing multi-fold packaging with a choice of left, right or simultaneous folding. 

The investments in new technology is designed to alleviate key pressure points across the folding-carton sector as market demand grows.

The company first expanded into the folding carton market around 17 years ago; the market now accounts for 60% to 70% of its business. 

The company attributed the growth to direct mill relationships and continuous investment in technology.

“We bring a commercial print mindset to the packaging world, and with investments in our technology, we can consistently elevate our service level even further,” said Jon Tardiff, president of J.S. McCarthy. 

The commercial and packaging printing company had been owned by the Tardiff family since 2000, and transitioned to an employee stock ownership plan, or ESOP, in 2019.Tardiff said investments in BOBST equipment increased productivity.

“When we switched from our previous machines to BOBST equipment, we saw a huge leap forward in how much we were able to accomplish in the same timeframe,” he said. “We’re talking 30% to 50% improvements in a lot of cases.”

Tardiff credited new information technology and digital integration capabilities as “a big jump forward for us from a productivity standpoint.”

BOBST provided training on the die-cutters and folder-gluers.

Machines can run 9,000 sheets per hour.

The productivity advantages of high-tech equipment became clearer during the pandemic. For example, the company typically needs up to 20 people to remove waste from die-cut blanks – a process called “hand-stripping.” “As COVID-19 brought a labor crunch, we struggled to find people for the hand stripping of blanks,” said Tardiff.

But precision technology allowed the company to remain productive and profitable with fewer people. 

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