CCG Marketing Solutions: The Original Convergence Model
With its main facility located just outside of New York City, CCG Marketing Solutions has 500,000 sq. ft. of space to offer anything and everything a customer might come through the door looking for, which includes everything from a vast variety of printing services, to kitting, fulfillment, warehousing, marketing, and more. In short, CCG was the proverbial poster child for convergence long before that term was coined.
Ben Ritacco, the VP, specialty print and fulfillment, for the company, notes that in a company built on innovation, one of the stand-outs has been the introduction of D3PL — decoration-driven third-party logistics providers — to the suite of services they offer. “That has been a huge, tremendous success for us,” he says, which was born out of the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic brought to the business.
“When everyone went home, and the workforce shifted out of big buildings and into spare bedrooms, a couple of strange things happened that we were equipped to receive,” he says. “People still needed to market to their internal workforce and customers, but they were having a huge challenge to do that in a pandemic. Many shops were shut down or running limited capacity, and even those who could [produce the work] couldn’t ship one-to-one fulfillment directly to residents.”
He cites one example that really illustrated why this service was so necessary. “Early in the pandemic, we had a customer who had pre-booked a job with us for 7,200 Fitbit watches that they wanted inkjet decorated, and then fulfilled to seven office buildings worldwide to be handed out. That changed abruptly when everyone went home. Now we had 7,200 individuals worldwide — including places like Israel, India, and Central and South America where addresses can be hard to get in ordinary circumstances.”
The result? Ritacco notes that working with their main shipping partner, UPS, CCG did the entire job in under three weeks, including both the time to decorate and the time to ship. “That’s the moment it really hit me,” he says, “that we’re doing something no one else can do well. When others have lead times of 30-40 days — and still do today — we’re equipped to do extremely quick jobs.”
A State of Constant Evolution
The introduction of D3PL services might be the latest major innovation for the company, but it certainly isn’t the first. CCG got its start more than 56 years ago as a simple fulfillment company, but it quickly evolved into other areas, with different “silos” of work, such as print and production, wide-format, digital printing, offset printing, decoration and promotional printing, kitting, and a full-service letter shop — just to name a few. In addition to the main facility, the company has a second building in New Jersey that is dedicated to high-compliance work, such as for pharmaceutical sampling and related programs, where security and adherence to strict regulations and privacy laws are far more critical than for other types of work.
In the end, says Ritacco, it all goes back to the original owner, “who made his mark, and is still doing it today. We listen to our customers,” he says, “and that’s where the innovation comes from. We have regular dialogues with them to figure out what trends they’re trying to meet, and what they need from us on a service level.”
The expansion from fulfillment to the multi-prong approach CCG takes today happened organically by adding new services and equipment, as well as directly through acquisition when the right opportunities came along. “It’s all based on what the customer needs, not what we want to do,” Ritacco notes. “That’s how we got into [everything]. A customer said ‘hey, we need you to do offset,’ then digital, then lettershop, etc. — that’s really how we grew the company.”
Adding Wide-Format to the Mix
The wide-format component was added to CCG’s mix about 10 years ago, when Ritacco himself joined the company, with a background “firmly rooted in the tradeshow world,” he says, and the wide-format graphics required in that space. He brought the expertise to offer applications such as portable displays, custom signage, modular graphics, among others. “I met them through a mutual acquaintance, and they said we have a need for someone with tradeshow expertise, so I came in to build it,” says Ritacco. “In the process, they explained their desire to build a wide-format print engine to support tradeshows, and I used that to fund a growth opportunity.”
Today, that division does everything from office signage to POP and retail graphics, and now, says Ritacco, the next big growth opportunity is packaging. He is already offering short- to medium-run digital packaging, and “it’s huge for us right now, massive,” says Ritacco, “and growing by the second.” That division started with a single roll-to-roll wide-format printer, and is already a sizeable operation with multiple machines, flatbed presses, cutters, and more. “We now support a wider range of clients on a much wider range of products,” he notes.
Another “happy accident” that was a spin-off from the wide-format division has been the decoration and promotional products business. “As inkjet started to emerge in the promo space, most, if not all, of the traditional suppliers and decorators did exactly what happened in the beginning of wide-format — they were apprehensive of onboarding new technology. It was too expensive, not quite there yet, or just too much of a knowledge gap to go from traditional screen printing to wide-format inkjet. The big players were sticking a toe in, but not really giving it a hard look. So, we onboarded a few flatbeds to handle a project, and it spiraled from there.” That single project turned into a massive operation all its own, and even led to CCG developing its own line of bottles. Out of CCG’s growing bottle decoration operation, a full scale, trade decoration division was born — BeDecorating. This new division provides decoration and fulfillment services to some of the biggest bottle companies in the world, Ritacco notes.
And these are just a few of the many divisions and services CCG offers to customers — with the company always on the lookout for new technologies, products, or services they can add to make their customers’ lives even easier. It didn’t happen overnight, but the philosophy of embracing new ideas and never being afraid to try new technologies has made the company the ultimate picture of a convergence success story.