Dave Robinson was just two years old when his father Mike became owner of Robinson Printing, so he has long witnessed—and now helps guide—the family-owned company’s ongoing growth. Celebrating its 90th year in business in 2014, Robinson Printing continues to evolve in terms of technology and capability, offering labeling innovations to solve real-life customer challenges. The company will exhibit at Medical Design & Manufacturing Westin Anaheim February 11-13 at Booth 5375.
“You’ve got to keep your ear to the ground to identify what the next customer need might be,” Dave says. And, over the years, “we have been fortunate to be able to invest in equipment. Today we are using faster, more accurate, automated equipment that has allowed us to innovate. If you cannot upgrade to meet customer needs, you could be left behind."
Evidence of the company’s equipment investments is one of the original presses purchased second-hand by founder Joseph Robinson in 1924, now sitting in the front office. “Since my great-grandfather Joseph opened his stationery and printing shop in downtown Long Beach, we have strived to find our niche in order to keep us competitive and relevant,” continues Dave. The company began by offering letterpress printing, and as the technology increased, “so did we.”
Joseph was able to guide his new company through the Depression (and later a World War and war rationing). “The challenges he faced are not unlike those we face today,” says Dave.
In the 1930s, Joseph’s son Norman studied printing at Long Beach Poly, and given his experience in the family business, helped teach a few classes, explains Dave. Shortly after, Norman took over the business, adding greeting cards to its offerings, and later automation in the 1950s. “Our first Heidelberg press was installed in the 1950s, and it was one color,” says Dave.
Norman’s son Mike was born in the 1940s, and at a young age became a printer’s apprentice. Mike did venture off to pursue a sports writing career, but given that “printing was his second nature” and he preferred the environment of the family business, he rejoined in the 1960s.
Mike ended up leading the business after one day in 1969 suddenly claimed the lives of both Mike’s father, Norman, and grandfather, Joseph. “My dad went from being an employee one day to the owner the next. It was a trying time,” says Dave.
“Without our tight-knit family of highly skilled and caring employees we would not be where we are today,” Dave’s brother Steve adds.
In the 1970s, Robinson Printing was working with Pacific Christian College, which would later become Hope International University, which had asked the printer to move along with the college to Fullerton, so the company started a new chapter in a new location. Mike later took on a partner savvy in electronic prepress processing, eventually buying him out. He then sold the Fullerton business and purchased a new one in Temecula, switching the family name to the new business and entering the world of medical printing in 1981.
“We worked with a small medical device manufacturer in the area, and we grew along with them,” says Dave. “For more than 30 years [our] specialty has been medical instruction printing. While we also produce full-color commercial work, our main focus is this high-quality, incredibly accurate printing that accompanies medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and other complicated products.”
In the 1990s, the printer saw demand increase for medical device labeling solutions that could fit in a lot of text in smaller and smaller footprints, says Dave. “Demand for multiple-language instructions grew, so we developed labeling solutions for map-fold designs and booklets. In the beginning, it was around 8 languages, and now is up to 32.” To support such map-fold and booklet designs, Robinson Printing invested in miniaturized folding equipment that could work with unique paperstocks.
Medical device manufacturers still use booklets, but map-folded options are increasingly popular. Dave says that “packaging requirements are changing, and the package size drives the size of the insert, so companies are selecting map-folded designs folded to specs.” The printer was also being asked for smaller and smaller footprints, so it worked its way down to 1 1/8 x 1 1/8 in. and now is adding new equipment to get down to 7/8 x 7/8 in. The equipment will be dedicated to such applications, reducing set up time.
Robinson Printing also developed new adhesive-backed instructions for use (IFUs). “When a customer approached us to develop a way to provide an adhesive backer to their thick, map-fold IFUs, we devised and customized machinery that uniquely would meet this need. Today, Robinson Printing’s In-Sheet is a one-of-a-kind adhesive IFU used frequently by our customer base throughout the medical device industry,” explains Mike. The design also allows medical device manufacturers to avoid having to include such an insert inside a package subjected to sterilization.
The company has built equipment that can produce large-format In-Sheet IFUs. It has even moved 192-page booklets to the In-Sheet format. “It really is designed for larger IFUs, not minifolds, because glue dots typically work in those cases,” says Dave. “But we can customize the equipment to fit what we are doing.”
Robinson Printing now employs the family’s fifth generation, Dave’s twin sons, Tyler and Aaron Robinson. “We appreciate the uniqueness that comes with being a fifth generation business owner,” stated Tyler. “It’s our desire to see the company continue to grow, meet our customer’s needs, and to provide employment for others in our community.”
Robinson Printing is certified to the ISO9001:2008 standard for quality and compliant with cGMP standards. It maintains complete control of the product in their specially equipped, quality managed facility—from prepress to printing to folding to inspections to delivery.