Tag & Label Industry Timeline

Since being established 70 years ago, the Tag & Label Manufacturers Institute (TLMI) has enjoyed growth in membership and programs to become North America's leading association for the tag and label industry. Here are some important dates:

Rubber-based p-s adhesives developed for surgical/medical cloth tapes. (Source: Klein, B. 1994. They Built an Industry. Lima, OH: Fairway Press.)

First labels for product ID are produced in the US for apothecary industry. (Source: Klein, B. 1994. They Built an Industry. Lima, OH: Fairway Press.)

The 1930s & 1940s
As the Great Depression drags on, Americans turn to movies and big band music for fun; FDR begins the first of four terms. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the US enters WWII. War dominates life in the '40s, and war production pulls the US out of the Depression.

June 1933
The National Industrial Recovery Act requires manufacturers to form trade associations.*

June 15, 1933
Tag Manufacturers Institute (TMI) Organized.

Mark Andy develops the flexographic tape printer. (Source: Klein, B. 1994. They Built an Industry. Lima, OH: Fairway Press.)

3M develops a printable, self-wound tape.

TLMI Illuminator
Sprague Wise, president/CEO of Wise Tag & Label, is a self-proclaimed “pack rat,” so much so he has collected TLMI meeting programs, copies of the ILLUMINATOR, and various other artifacts since the late 1960s. And, he was generous enough to share them with us.
A few excerpts from the 1973 May/June issues of the ILLUMINATOR, published 30 years ago, are reprinted on this timeline. Many thanks to Sprague for saving and sharing these pieces of TLMI history!

The 1950s
During the Cold War, a “space race” gets underway, along with the Civil Rights Movement. Elvis Presley becomes a rock 'n' roll star — on TV.

Permanent p-s adhesives developed. (Source: Klein, B. 1994. They Built an Industry. Lima, OH: Fairway Press.

EDP address labels created. (Source: Klein, B. 1994. They Built an Industry. Lima, OH: Fairway Press.)

Mark Andy develops the p-s label press.

Flexographic Technical Association (FTA) organized. (Source: Klein, B. 1994. They Built an Industry. Lima, OH: Fairway Press.)

“Being a member of TLMI has been a rewarding experience for me both personally and professionally. When I was asked to recall a few memorable moments, I was at a loss to select just one or two. There were so many that defined who we are as a company and who I am now as an individual. Our association is a rare collection of like-minded business people who have enough confidence in their own abilities that they are more than willing to share their unique experiences with others.

That, in short, is what has made TLMI so successful: It offers something for everyone. The ‘newcomers’ to our industry gain insight from their peers who likely have a more in-depth knowledge of the people and processes that are driving its success. At the same time, our more ‘experienced’ members have an opportunity to flex their intellectual and technical muscles in the presence of their peers, while also gaining valuable insights into how to make their own established businesses even more successful.

Others benefit as well. Our customers gain from the knowledge we receive and the personal contacts we make as a result of our membership in TLMI; our employees gain as their managers better understand their unique problems and concerns as a result of the camaraderie expressed by other members; and our management grows in absolute terms in their ability to oversee the larger picture before them.

TLMI is unlike most trade organizations in that the trust exhibited by the members transcends that of most trade associations I have known, and we are uniquely qualified to carry on the work so properly begun by our predecessors. I, for one, am proud to have been a part of this team, and I encourage others to give of themselves for the greater good, because we all prosper as a result of this unselfish attitude.”
Suzanne Zaccone
TLMI president, 1998-2000
Graphic Solutions

“TLMI has helped CL&D improve in every area of its business, sales, technology, human resources, and planning. It is worth much more than the annual dues and is one of the best buys CL&D makes each year.”
Mike Dowling
TLMI president, 2000-2002
CL&D Graphics

TLMI Past Presidents


Jim Valestrino

Los Angeles Label Co.

2000 - 2002

Michael Dowling

CL&D Graphics Inc.

1998 - 2000

Suzanne Zaccone

Graphic Solutions Inc

1996 - 1998

Thomas J. Cobery

Label Art

1994 - 1996

George Noah

Lewis Label Products

1992 - 1994

Pat Patrick

Label America

1990 - 1992

Darrell Dochstader

Gar — Doc Inc.

1989 - 1990

Richard D. Schwartz

Aladdin Label Inc.

1987 - 1988

James English

Kalamazoo Label Co.

1985 - 1986

Paul Dunphy

Design Label Mfg.


Jerry Nerad

Professional Tape

1982 - 1983

Donald W. Buchta

Mid America Tag and Label

1981 - 1982

Leonard J. Peterson

Label Art Inc.

1980 - 1981

Jack L. Page

Kalamazoo Label Co.

1978 - 1979

David L. Peirce

Denney-Reyburn Co.

1976 - 1977

Robert D. Fletcher

Avery Label Co.

1974 - 1975

William W. Muir Jr.

Grand Rapids Label Co.

1972 - 1973

Richard J. Pearson

Avery Products Corp.

1970 - 1971

Richard H. Gifford

H.M. Gifford Mfg.

1968 - 1969

Price H. Gwynn III

Package Products Co.


Howard E. Gorton

Dennison Mfg. Co.

1965 - 1966

John S. Torrey

Avery Label Co.


L.F. Gehrig

Ennis Business Forms Inc.

1962 - 1963

Robert W. Swett

American Tag Co.

1959 - 1961

George E. Phelps

Allen-Bailey Tag Co. Inc.

1957 - 1958

Howard E. Gorton

Dennison Mfg. Co.

1955 - 1956

D.M. Swett

American Tag Co.

1953 - 1954

H.C. McElroy

Ennis Business Forms Inc.

1951 - 1952

W.C. Bailey Jr.

The Reyburn Mfg. Co.

1949 - 1950

Gibbons G. Cornwell

The Denney Tag Co.

1947 - 1948

A.G. Shennan

International Tag and Salesbook

1944 - 1946

P.M. Pope

A. Kimball Co.

1941 - 1943

W.C. Bailey Jr.

The Reyburn Mfg. Co.


A.P. Williams

Dennison Mfg. Co.


A.G. Shennan

International Tag and Salesbook


A.P. Williams

Dennison Mfg. Co.


E.J. McKay

Robinson Tag and Label Co.

1934 - 1936

E.M. Anderson

American Tag Co.


Elmer Floback

Acme Tag Co.

The 1960s
The Vietnam War rages; Kennedy and King are assassinated. Hippies set the counterculture style, and The Beatles make an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

The Roll Label Manufacturers Association and the Tag Manufacturers Institute merge, creating TLMI. (Source: Klein, B. 1994. They Built an Industry. Lima, OH: Fairway Press.

Membership expands to include label converters; renamed TLMI.

Glossary of Terms published.

Membership expands to include suppliers (associate members).

TLMI Illuminator
“The Department of Energy recently requested the support of many trade associations in efforts to conserve energy resources. Secretary of Commerce Frederick B. Dent appealed to American businesses and industry to deal with the very tight fuel energy situation that ‘has neared crisis proportions in certain areas of the country….’”

Excerpt from a letter used in the ongoing TLMI membership drive: “The most important problem that anyone in business faces today is trying to keep one step ahead of a rapidly changing, increasingly complex marketplace.”

Some things never change!

It was announced “the $100 billion food industry has finally developed a ‘universal product code’ that would provide a standard labeling language that can be read by electronic scanners….”

The 1970s
A time of Watergate and the anti-war movement. Intel introduces the microprocessor, and the Vietnam War comes to an end. We wear mood rings, platform shoes, and leisure suits; buy pet rocks; and celebrate our nation's bicentennial.

TLMI Illuminator
Avery Products Corp. released its annual report, showing net revenues of $184.6 million for 1972.

The TLMI Tag Technical Committee (including member Sprague Wise) met in Philadelphia in March and reported: “In 1972, the 92nd Congress failed to act on metric system conversion. The (U.S.) Senate had unanimously passed a bill to make the conversion to metric measurements mandatory within the Federal Government in ten years.”

The Management Ratio report instituted. This study is said to present the only reliable financial statistics available for the tag and label industry.

First edition of the TLMI Buyers Guide issued.

Gallus markets the first high-speed rotary letterpress. (Source: Klein, B. 1994. They Built an Industry. Lima, OH: Fairway Press.)

Membership expands to include Canadian, Mexican companies.

Membership expands to include international members.

TLMI Awards Competition launched for converter members.

TLMI Scholarship established with $1,000 awarded to Rochester Institute of Technology.

“There has never been a meeting in my 30 years with TLMI that I didn't take away something important, although our members have not always agreed on where our industry was headed. Back in the late '60s or early '70s, TLMI held a meeting in New Orleans where one of the topics was: “Are hot melt adhesives here to stay?” The consensus at that conference was a resounding no! People just wouldn't be willing to invest in this new and unproven technology. Well, 30 years later, hot melt is here — and here to stay.

During a later meeting in Washington, DC, the question was raised as to whether flexo could successfully print high quality, four-color process. Again, the majority of the people at that meeting said no. And, my guess is that if they're still in business today, most of them are doing just that.

Finally, when TLMI was invited to serve as a co-sponsor of Labelexpo in the late 1980s, some of our members were so upset they threatened to leave the organization! ‘What if we were associated with a show that failed?’ Well, Labelexpo has since proven to be a great source of financial support to TLMI, and of knowledge to the industry.

As you can see, TLMI has proven to be a valuable source of information and a forum for the free exchange of ideas. That, in large part, has been the secret to its success.”
Jim English
TLMI president, 1987-1988
Kalamazoo Label

The 1980s
The “Me Generation” plays video games; Ronald Reagan serves two terms; and hostile takeovers, leveraged buyouts, and mega-mergers dominate the business news. Computers come of age, and tainted Tylenol changes the way drugs and food items are packaged.

The laser-engraved anilox roll is developed. (Source: Klein, B. 1994. They Built an Industry. Lima, OH: Fairway Press.)

Management Ratio Study becomes the basis for the coveted “Best Managed Company Award.”

TLMI initiates Converter of the Year award.

TLMI co-sponsors Labelexpo USA
World Label Association Awards program initiated, a joint effort with TLMI, FINAT, and the Japan Label Printing Federation. This competition recognizes the highest quality of label printing in the world.

The 1990s
The electronic age truly arrives, with computers in almost every household and the world connected by the World Wide Web. Clinton serves two terms, and the fall of Communism that began at end of '80s continues. Oklahoma's Federal Building suffers a terrorist attack, and by the era's end, concerns about a Y2K bug prove to be mostly unfounded.

President George Bush recognizes TLMI president-elect Pat Patrick in a White House ceremony acknowledging the TLMI ALLIES program (American Label Leaders Involved in Eradicating Substance Abuse).
The “Created with Pride” quality campaign is launched to increase customer awareness of TLMI members as quality label houses.

TLMI becomes “self-managed;” moves to Iowa City, IA.

Management Ratio Study renamed the TLMI Eugene Singer Award in honor of its founder.
Fourth Glossary of Terms for Pressure Sensitive Labels published.

The Environmentally Sensible Practices Release Liner Recycling Program established to provide label customers with an environmentally sound alternative to landfilling used liner.
TLMI Technical Conference re-instituted after a five-year absence.

The first TLMI North American Label Study released.
Revised TLMI Label Manual of Recommended Standard Specifications issued.
TLMI hosts first joint meeting with its European counterpart, FINAT, in Williamsburg, VA.

TLMI begins support of Flexo In High School Program.
TLMI launches Frequent Flyer Campaign, asking members to donate unused frequent flyer miles to be used by children with life-threatening illnesses.

TLMI moves headquarters to Naperville, IL
Second edition of the North American Label Study released.
TLMI establishes World Wide Web site.

TLMI and FINAT hold second joint meeting in May in Rome.
TLMI membership reaches 396 member companies and divisions.

TLMI and its member companies reach an initial goal of donating 1 million frequent flyer miles to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Third edition of the North American Label Study released.

The 2000s
The new millennium begins. Terrorists attack the World Trade Center on 9/11; the economy slumps. US declares a war on terrorism.

TLMI/FINAT hold third joint meeting in Palm Beach, FL.

TLMI reaches milestone of raising $500,000 for Scholarship Fund.
Fourth edition of the North American Label Study released.
Revised TLMI Standards Manual released.

Fourth TLMI/FINAT meeting held in Austria.
TLMI Supplier of the Year Award established.
TLMI Environmental Leadership Award established.

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