The history of PRP (formerly PRPflexo and originally Precision Rubber Plate) based in Indianapolis, Indiana, is really the story of the flexo industry in its entirety, as well as a testament to the spirit of entrepreneurship.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the company and, as such, PRP has been witness to every major event and trend to affect the industry since before the outbreak of World War II.
It’s safe to say that when company founder Manuel Green began cutting rubber printing plates on the family kitchen table, there’s no way he could have foreseen the sweeping changes to come for the industry, nor that the company he was launching would one-day be on the forefront of many of the most far-reaching of those changes, including the still fairly nascent digital revolution.
In the early 1950s, Green realized that he had a solution to a problem being experienced by one of the largest CPG companies in the world. All he needed now was the chance to tell someone his story.
So, with no appointment, he waited outside the buying offices of Procter & Gamble until someone agreed to meet with him. P&G wanted to print its Tide logo using halftones and Green was able to create the first halftone Tide logo printed on corrugated. PRP won the business and has now served P&G for 60 consecutive ears.
Green was servicing the P&G account for less than a year when he addressed another need. By introducing print cards, for the first-time artwork could be approved before the packaging was printed.
In the mid-1950s, Green’s two sons, Jim and Larry, joined the growing company and helped to usher PRP into new areas of growth as halftones on corrugated began to be used more successfully, particularly at the dawn of the 1960s. By developing a way to liquify rubber, which could in turn be re-hardened for higher durometer, and the use of capped printing plates, PRP was able make inroads in the early 1960s into what has always been the most difficult aspect of printing on corrugated: the elimination of fluting.
PRP is now in the third generation of the Green family, with Larry’s son Chris now the company’s General Manager and Jim’s daughter Kellie serving as President. The two feel they are uniquely qualified to run the company because of their seemingly diametrically opposed attributes.
“I’m a production-minded person,” said Chris, “and Kellie is more finely attuned to sales. This is just our nature. And it truly helps us view every situation from both of those angles, which is very important. From the production side we focus almost obsessively over the best and most effective way to improve our process, and from a sales viewpoint we are always looking at ways to meet our customer’s distinct and individual expectations.”
Staying ahead of the competitive curve is what motivated PRP to become an early adapter of the most dominant game-changer to ever hit the printing industry: digital technology.
The company began to gain a great deal of industry notice for its ability to create high-end graphics and it was with that eye toward quality that the company eagerly embraced the digital revolution in the 1980s. A $1 million investment in Scitex equipment was the beginning of immense change for not only PRP, but the entire printing industry.
The company’s commitment to digital technology continues unabated today. Roughly ten years ago, PRP developed ExSpect®, the first engineered flat top dots. Several years later, the company launched Digital ExSpect®, the first flat-top-dot digital plate technology. And to ensure that its digital output could continue uninterrupted for its customers, in the early 2000s, PRP made the bold move of duplicating every piece of machinery in its facility.
“When something broke down it was a nightmare and created terrible time delays for our customers,” said Chris Green. “So we now have two of everything, which means we have one of the largest plate capacity facilities in one single place in the country.”
Like all successful companies, PRP acknowledges that it owes its successes in large part to its workforce, a dedicated group that has helped usher in one technological advance after another. “We have some very influential people working at PRP who have enormous levels of experience and expertise,” said Chris Green. “Production Manager Gary Ford has been with us since 1973; Dale Gilpatrick, Strategic Operations Manager, since 1970. Ned Weir, Senior Research Engineer, and one of the leading minds in flexo printing, has been with us since 1960.”
PRP feels it is a company that is not limited to one particular area of expertise, which is the reason it has recently launched a rebranding effort, one that encapsulates the company’s wide-ranging approach. With that in mind, the decision was made to drop the ‘flexo’ from its name and now be known simply as PRP.
“Flexo is integral to what we do here,” said Kellie Green, “but there is so much more that we offer. We provide full circle packaging needs, beginning from initial design and hitting on every aspect of brand management.”
Our Digital Asset Management programs allow us to refer to the latest legal and regulatory approved Brand Assets, maintaining consistency for brands when multiple design firms are involved,” she continued. “We offer color management, as well as consulting services, including on-site, press-side assistance and press approvals. And our ‘Print Champions’ program offers in-depth analysis, reporting and recommendations that lead to improved print quality.” Chris Green describes PRP as a company built on the foundation of perfectionism. “Our grandfather often said, ‘If you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all.’ I think that philosophy remains very much intact here today.”