Label maker solves customer’s problem

The Advocate
By Richard Lee Assistant Business Editor

When CDx Laboratories needed a company to manufacture its new generation of bar code labels, they knew Norwalk-based Penmar Industries could provide an answer. CDx, based in Suffern, N.Y., was looking for a manufacturer that could provide the unique bar code technology that it now uses to identify laboratory samples it receives from dentists. The bar code system was developed to prevent any possibility of mixups in the specimen samples, said Mayer Pessin, director of distribution at CDx, which has developed an oral brush biopsy to allow dentists to test harmless-looking spots that may be cancerous or pre-cancerous. CDx’s technology is now used in thousands of dentists’ offices requiring a dependable tracking system, Pessin said, whose company found Penmar through networking and research on the Internet.

“It’s absolutely crucial. You’re talking about people’s lives. We were using another company that couldn’t accommodate our new needs,” Pessin said, adding that CDx needed labels that could stick to a variety of surfaces and withstand chemicals. For the past six months, Penmar has been supplying rolls of bar code labels to CDx, which uses 75,000 to 100,000 of the bar code labels each month. “I think it took three months for us to do the research and development,” said Kevin Rudden, sales manager at Penmar, which for the past 33 years has operated in a century-old building on Bates Court next to the South Norwalk train station. “The material it’s printed on is designed specifically for this.”

The age of the building and its quirky layout gives little indication of the imaginative thinking that goes on within its walls which are decorated with vintage photographs of old Norwalk. “In essence, we’re providing solutions. We can help them save money or eliminate damage,” said Penmar President Ed Rodriguez, who joined the company in 1983 and rose to vice president of operations, before buying the business in 1992. “I learned the business and fell in love with the company, its customers and employees. This is our family away from home.”

He says he is proud of the fact that the average length of service for the company’s 16 employees is more than 13 years. Among them is Rick Cipot, Penmar general manager, who deserves much of the credit for developing the bar code technology, Soegaard said. Six employees are involved in the process of making labels for a variety of companies, many of whom have been Penmar clients for several years. Many of the labels are placed on machinery or industrial products. Among corporate customers using Penmar labels are Henkel/Loctite, for adhesives in Rocky Hill, Ohio and Puerto Rico, Kirker Enterprises Inc., in Paterson, N,J., Dresser Instruments in Stratford and Golfsmith International in Austin, Texas. Other companies are using the company’s family of pressure-senitive tapes, manufactured on a contract basis and, slit to varying sizes by SpecTape, a, Kentucky company, partly owned by Penmar.

Still, other businesses are using Penmar’s packaging services. Soegaard recalled how his company designed new packaging for a corporate client that makes chandeliers and sconces to ensure that they are delivered undamaged. The company is a global operation serving customers in Puerto Rico, China and India, it also serves small area businesses, such as Tokeneke’ Foods, a maker of gourmet hors d’ouevres that sells its products to area wholesalers and chefs. Tokeneke Foods has been using aluminum foil trays with plastic tops, but it wanted to replace it with more manageable packaging, that would allow it to expand its marketing area. “What I have now is functional for what I do,” said Tokeneke President Margaret West. “This (new packaging) allows us to have a product that can be shipped to customers around the country.” West, who has been in business on a limited basis for nine years, selling to upscale’ shops, said she has been a Penmar client for several years, but the new effort is in the early stages.