Hello. My name is Mike Freddy, co-founder and COO of LabelMasters, LLC. I wanted to thank you for your time and welcome you to our website. I hope that we will have the opportunity to speak to you and learn how we can help you and your company grow while becoming friends and business partners in the very near future.
This letter is not only an introduction to LabelMasters, but also an introduction to our team and a little history of how we have come together to provide a meaningful service to the label industry. It has been a challenging, inspiring, and often an amusing journey... and we are thankful to be where we are today.
When I was only 13, I met one of my dearest and lifelong friends, Mike. As we were growing up, we did most everything together as most kids do. His father, a truck driver, struggled to make ends meet while on the road working. Then while on the job in California he was pulled over by a patrolman and given a ticket for illegal wide load signs on the back of the truck. This minor event not only changed his life, but mine as well.
Merrit, my friend's father, was more than frustrated by the ticket as it added to the financial struggles they already had. When he got home, angry and frustrated, he made a new sign, based on the legal requirements, with stencils and spray paint. He didn't know then that it was the beginning of a new company as well as a new career. He soon found out that many other truck drivers he knew had been ticketed for the same offense and turned to Merrit for a solution. His wife, Carita, began researching screen-printing and opened their new business producing signs in their garage. You've probably guessed where the labor for the new company came from. Mike, his brother Gordan, and of course... yours truly began working so the jobs could get done faster and we could get out to find some fun.
That was also the start of my career. I continued working with Mike and his family until I could find a job with another company that manufactured labels. They were also a startup company, which allowed me to grow and learn with them for several years. From there I spent 7 years at Bay Area Labels working through the ranks to become the Screen Print Production Supervisor.
Through all the years that I was working and learning, my friend Mike's family business continued to grow and I decided to rejoin their team and served as their Production Manager for 10 years while their business took off and became a large manufacturing organization.
I am sure many of you know that the housing market in California is out of control and even with a good job and a great career, the expense of living in San Jose was taxing and my family and I lived in a small house in a marginal area. It was a great life, but had limitations on what I could afford and my career opportunities seemed to have topped out.
Out of the blue one day I was approached by a personnel headhunter about an opportunity in a small Arizona town called Safford. There in the rural desert town a larger label company had been established and needed my experience working with the Lexan product line to expand their market products. With the new title of Business Manager and the hopes of being able to provide my family with the American Dream of a larger home and land, it was overwhelming. After thinking, worrying, and discussing the options with my wife, Connie, and sons, Jacob and Nathan, we decided to chase this new opportunity.
We packed our things, moved to Safford, began construction on our dream home up on a hill and it was a turning point in our lives. The new job presented challenges, and I traveled often to meet with new and existing customers. Once the manufacturing area was equipped, the machines were purchased, staff was hired and trained and the estimating program was built, we were ready for the gates to open. When they did, production took off like wild fire and quickly became the fastest growing division of the business. My wage increased, as did my staff to match the sales demand.
I was under the impression that if you work hard and are good at what you do, you are safe. At this point, looking back, I was never without a job, I always had security and continued to grow in my career and with my family.
Soon after this point I learned that it was a false illusion when my new employer decided that they had gained enough knowledge to continue without me. I now realize that I was naive. Security while working for someone else really doesn't exist. The more you make, the larger the target becomes on your back. They took what they had learned from my experience and saved their bottom line by cutting off my pay.
I was devastated, I had moved my family from everything we had known and we were now in the middle of nowhere. On top of that, I had built my home without researching housing prices and was saddled with a large mortgage. I began to lose everything I had worked my whole life to achieve, my cars, my toys and our home. I took on odd jobs around town while searching for a new job opportunity. Due to economic pressures from the dot com bust, no one was hiring... especially not a high-end guy like myself. I was told I was "over qualified." I hit rock bottom and began to question every decision I had ever made. I felt as though I had let my family down and dragged them into this mess.
At that point, all I had left was my knowledge of this business. I had seen others do it... start with nothing and grow into something. I had been there more then once with the other companies I had the privilege of working with. This is where my partner, Ed, and I became more than just ex co-workers, as he too had been a victim of the restructuring at our previous employer. He had been their CFO, I had been the Business Manager. We had long talks about "what if" we had our own business. He had seen the incredible growth and saw the potential of the product and we began discussing the option. He had the accounting and I had the manufacturing and it made a perfect partnership.
We pulled together a small amount of money and I contacted my friend Mike from California and brought out his old obsolete equipment and LabelMasters, LLC. was born. My first employee, and still one of my dear friends, Christina, who had been a production supervisor at the previous company, left to join our new venture and help us grow. She took a big pay cut to be with us and has continued to grow with us ever since. My second employee was Cara, our graphic artist, again from my former employer. Then came Lydia, with experience running the finishing and QC department. These are some of my closest friends. My son Nathan is the fourth of the top four, core group, of our organization. They all made huge sacrifices and took a big risk to make this happen.
It's now been over eighteen years and we have moved 3 times, each time into larger facilities and are now in a brand new building built and leased from the City of Safford. Both of my sons and my wife work along side me every day. Many of my staff has come to work with us with the experience they have gained from the guys down the street.
Looking back it all seems to make sense now, everything had to happen just as it did for us to be here. I am a big believer in God, and thank him daily for where he has lead my family and me. I have the best crew, partner and friends anyone could ever hope for and the business continues to grow... thanks to all of you, my most valued customers.
For me it's easy to see that there is a plan for all of us. Sometimes when the road seems its darkest, that is the time that things are about to change. My employees are my family and I care deeply for each of them. I want this part of their lives to be remembered as one of the many good times in their lives. I do the best I can for them and never look at money as the measure of a person's wealth. I've learned that those who believe in you, those who stand by you and lift you up when you need it most, are the best measure of a person's wealth. I will never forget the journey that has brought me to this point in my life. I hope this inspires others to believe in themselves, take risks, roll through the rough spots, and always... always, thank God for this fabulous life he has given us.
May God bless you on your journey and I hope that you will consider letting us serve you for all your label needs. We are here to serve you. Your successes in life and your ventures are what we are all about