Ottawa manufacturer labels acquisition by Minneapolis-based firm a win

Medical label image

An Ottawa manufacturer whose customers include some of the world’s largest producers of medical devices has been sold to a Minneapolis-based organization.

Label Innovation, which specializes in labels and components used in the manufacturing of high-volume, disposable medical devices, has been acquired by AWT Labels and Packaging, the companies recently announced. Terms were not disclosed.

Founded in 1979 as the Label Centre, Label Innovation originally produced labels and stickers for the grocery industry before rebranding and shifting its focus to the medical device industry two decades ago. 

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In addition to complex labels and seals for customers in the medical, industrial, technology and security markets, its products also include valves, gaskets and other components. Label Innovation also offers services such as laser- and die-cutting and custom printing for manufacturers.

President Kelly Youngdale told OBJ that after years of “slow and manageable” double-digit revenue growth, the self-funded venture decided to test the M&A market earlier this year at the suggestion of Ottawa-based Welch Capital Partners, which acted as its adviser on the deal.

“We thought about (making) an acquisition in the past, but we’d not thought about being acquired,” said Youngdale, who joined the firm in 1993 and has seen it grow from four to 65 employees. 

“The appetite for acquisition for a company of our size was probably low, but we found a great deal of interest in being acquired. We had lots of players at the table.”

It’s the first Canadian acquisition for AWT, which was founded in 1991 and already operates six facilities in the United States.

“Kelly Youngdale and the Label Innovation team have created a unique client experience through sophisticated and highly engineered products that solve complex needs in the health-care industry and other similar end markets that we support today,” AWT chief executive Bruce Hanson said in a statement. 

“We believe there is significant value for our collective customer base as we work to unlock the engineering depth and capabilities across AWT.”

Label Innovation will continue to operate as a standalone entity based out of its 30,000-square-foot headquarters and manufacturing plant on Fenton Road. 

Youngdale, who will remain in his current role, says he expects the company to continue growing as it pursues cross-selling opportunities that come from being part of a much larger organization with a broader customer base.

“I think we’re going to be a nice strategic fit,” he said. “We see tremendous upside to this, and we’re going to explore it.”

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