Fortis Named One of Label & Narrow Web’s 2019 Companies to Watch

Timothy Ecklor

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Since being featured as a Company to Watch in 2015, Fortis Solutions Group has not rested on its laurels. According to John Wynne, CEO of Fortis Solutions Group, the company has grown considerably in that timespan. The company’s name is designed to emphasize its breadth of services. Fortis translates to “strong” in Latin, while Solutions account for its proactive, value-added services. Group acknowledges the team’s multi-site and multi-faceted capabilities.

In October 2015, the company occupied four locations and had just rebranded as Fortis Solutions Group. Shortly after the feature, however, Fortis Solutions Group acquired Farmland Print Plant in Kansas City, MO. The acquisitions did not stop there, though.

“During 2016, we were focused on integrating three 2015 acquisitions (Color Craft Label, Kopco Graphics, and Farmland) and building our team,” explains Wynne, who entered the business in 2010 with the acquisition of Labels Unlimited in Virginia Beach, VA. “In 2017, we acquired Action Packaging Systems, which extended our presence from five to seven locations and built upon our opportunities to serve customers nationwide. In early 2018, we acquired Lewis Label, which provided us with a location in Texas while adding shrink sleeves and additional flexible packaging to our product capabilities.”

In November 2018, Fortis Solutions Group acquired Premier Georgia Labels and Packaging, adding folding carton capabilities, and Austin Label, furthering opportunities in the food and wine and spirits end-markets. At the end of 2018, the company added Infinite Packaging Group, which bolstered the Fortis Solutions Group presence in shrink sleeves and the Texas market while adding a new location in Oklahoma. Most recently, Fortis acquired Label Technology in Merced, CA, providing the company with a West Coast presence while strengthening its flexible packaging and pressure-sensitive offerings.

Fortis Solutions Group now employs over 725 team members across 14 locations, utilizing a fleet of flexographic and digital presses. Fortis has taken significant steps to provide new employees with additional investment, benefits (attractive wages, 401k match, a profit share plan, educational reimbursement, and healthcare) and opportunities for upward mobility across the Group.

“Our operations have grown considerably in the last nine years, driven by 10 strategic acquisitions and consistent organic growth,” says Wynne. “We take a different approach from traditional acquirers, who typically seek to consolidate functions like estimating, customer service and prepress into one location. Instead, we embrace local representation in each of these areas, recognizing they are the touchpoints that made our acquired businesses so successful. In short, we focus on being excellent, ongoing stewards of our acquired businesses while supporting their growth by leveraging our combined best practices, capital resources, and vendor relationships.”

At Fortis Solutions Group, the employees are the lifeblood of the business. The company has established its “One Fortis” initiative, which unites the business on internal and external levels in a harmonized approach to provide the best customer service. “We have fundamentally been able to grow based on the strength of our employees,” says Wynne. “All of our employees are united as ‘One Fortis’ to provide an outstanding experience for our customers. This strength and shared purpose are at the heart of our company. Our employees are the company’s most valuable resource, carrying our brand message of ‘Show Up Strong’ to the marketplace. It doesn’t matter which location a customer engages, we are One Fortis with the power and strength of all our sites, the creativity and ingenuity of all our people and all the capabilities of all our locations.”

Fortis Solutions Group’s newest site represents a departure from many of the company’s other acquisitions. This Napa, CA site is Fortis’ first greenfield startup, and it is designed to provide specific benefits to customers in the region. Fortis launched this facility in September 2019.

“Our customers in the wine and spirits industries have repeatedly told us there is a need for a local, agile, high-quality, customer-focused label printer,” notes Wynne. “Rather than acquire an existing business, we were able to bring together a very strong team with extensive experience and build a facility from the ground up around our customer-centric values. In keeping with our national yet local approach, we found a great location in Napa to serve our local customers while also being able to offer an additional market segment to our national customers.”

Fortis Solutions Group is certainly no stranger to investing in itself. The company supports its sales and operational initiatives with millions of dollars on an annual basis. Its equipment additions include wider, servo-driven flexo presses, digital presses, butt splicers and turrets for further efficiency gains. On the software side, Fortis utilizes EFI’s Radius ERP system across its footprint, as well as Esko’s prepress software at each of its facilities.

“Both of these systems, along with a proprietary internal software tool, minimize touches within our workflow, allowing for quicker speed to market,” explains Wynne. “This fall, we are excited to launch a Customer Portal that will allow our clients seamless access to their artwork, invoices, inventory, and orders. Fortis Solutions Group provides an entire system of support to give both our customers and their customers a powerful advantage in the marketplace.”

In the future, Fortis Solutions Group will continue to explore organic growth and acquisitions. “We like the trajectory of our business and will continue to invest in our people, as well as growth initiatives,” says Wynne, adding how Fortis revolves its growth strategy around end-market diversification, product diversification, and geographic diversification. For example, end-market diversification is designed to bolster the company’s food customer base with additional higher growth markets, while product diversification furthers Fortis’ pressure-sensitive (prime, coupon, booklets), folding carton, shrink and flexible packaging product lines.

Fortis Solutions Group will continue to keep an eye on advancements in LED, inkjet, and digital flexo hybrid technologies. “We are committed to outstanding customer service and will continue to innovate and invest alongside our customers to ensure they’re able to achieve their goals in the marketplace,” adds Wynne.

 

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