Keller Crescent

For Jim Franklin, these are the best of times at Keller Crescent. “We’re probably at the most exciting stage in our company’s history,” the vice president of operations says. “[We have] the opportunity to be at the leadership level in our specific industry.”

Based in Greensboro, N.C., Keller Crescent has six pharmaceutical printing and manufacturing operations in the United States and Puerto Rico. The company produces items such as pressure-sensitive roll labels, package outserts and inserts, intravenous solution hanger labels, and multi-ply labels and folding cartons for healthcare-related uses.

“Our customers are large and small pharmaceutical companies that are governed by the FDA and require their suppliers to be cGMP compliant,” Franklin says. Keller Crescent serves 15 “of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies in the world,” he adds.

Franklin notes that the company has several patented products, including the Pharmasling, a label for IV drug use. The label features a handle that is used for hanging the IV bottle itself. “We also dedicate a significant level of resources in leading industry technologies, including security branding, track and trace solutions, large format folding and electronic vision systems,” Franklin says. “The pharmaceutical packaging field is very dynamic. Although we successfully compete on price, our strength is helping companies reduce their packaging risks and their total cost of application.”

A Successful Journey

Franklin’s roots at Keller Crescent go back to 1992, when he joined Pharmagraphics, a pharmaceutical printer that, in 2006, was acquired by the Clondalkin Group of the Netherlands. “In 2007, Clondalkin purchased one of our largest competitors, Keller Crescent,” he says.

Keller Crescent and Pharmagraphics rebranded under the Keller name in 2008, and today, the company operates six locations in the United States and Puerto Rico. “Our success is a direct result of our parent company’s financial strength, strong leadership and a keen focus on what our customers value,” Franklin says.

“Clondalkin has invested over $200 million in the U.S. pharmaceutical packaging business since 2006,” he says. As a result of the company’s focus and investment, Keller Crescent claims to be the largest pharmaceutical insert manufacturer in the United States, with rapidly growing leadership positions in cartons and labels. “The Clondalkin USA leadership team has every intention to carry this level of commitment to our industry forward,” he adds.

Additionally, Franklin says, the company’s location in Greensboro has benefited from “a lean manufacturing journey” that it started seven years ago. The organization took a critical inventory of what clients valued, and defined everything else as waste. Although lean is a process, evidence of this commitment can be seen everywhere. “Whether it is our plant layout, our streamlined manufacturing, our environmental control systems or our most recent capital expenditures, our commitment to remove non-value added activities is deeply engrained in our culture,” he says.

The Greensboro location has since enjoyed 32 percent growth throughout 2009. When asked why such substantial growth in today’s economy, Franklin references its financial resources, innovation and leadership. “Manufacturing efficiencies are only a part of Keller Crescent’s entire value proposition,” he explains. “We work hard to set ourselves apart from others based on our responsiveness, our ability to design packaging solutions that reduce total cost of application, and our company’s reputation to operate with the highest standards of integrity.”

Green and Chemical-Free

Keller Crescent has undertaken green initiatives, as well. For in­stance, “We’ve recently [adopted] a printing plate making process that is chemical-free,” Franklin says, eliminating several cradle-to-grave chemicals used in traditional plate making.

Earlier this year, Agfa Graphics honored the company with a GreenWorks Environmental Recognition Award. “GreenWorks recognizes and honors printers that integrate, support and promote environmentally sound practices,” Keller Crescent says.

In addition to the chemical-free system, the company has incorporated recycled and renewable materials into its custom packaging and printing products. “By implementing procedures that reduce, reuse and recycle on an ongoing basis, we are minimizing our footprint on the environment,” CEO Bill Mitchell said in a statement. “We are honored that Agfa recognizes our efforts and we look forward to continuing to implement innovative policies to extend our current efforts as Keller Crescent is an environmentally sensitive print and packaging provider.”

Doing Things Right

To be a market leader in pharmaceutical package printing, one must have the necessary quality systems. “Our customers are required to audit their suppliers at regular intervals. These are very detailed, comprehensive reviews of our quality management systems, batch record documentation, manufacturing controls, employee training systems and compliance to our standard operating procedures,” says Shannon Walker, director of quality for Keller Crescent.

Since January, the Greensboro location has hosted 13 such audits. “We are proud that nine out of our last 13 audits have been observation-free,” Walker says. “Our customers expect industry-leading quality practices, and we are committed to deliver on this expectation.”

The Greensboro operation hosts an average of three to four tours a month. “Each and every visit, we receive so many positive comments about our employees, the knowledge of our management team, our plant cleanliness, and the manufacturing efficiencies,” Franklin says. “It’s comments like that that keep this team excited. Really, the ultimate feedback we receive is when a customer trusts Keller Crescent to be a part of their business.”