Made In Our Hometown: Caledonia's Allen-Bailey Tag & Label
Updated: Thursday, July 11 2013, 12:53 PM EDT
Caledonia, N.Y. - A company in the small town of Caledonia is big time in it's industry. They have customers in almost all of the 50 states. They do business with high rollers in Las Vegas, fisherman in the Gulf and you might have one of their products in your desk right now. But it can be hard to put a label on exactly what Allen-Bailey Tag & Label does.
"I say I make tags and labels and you get kind of a blank stare," says Director of Marketing and Owner Richard Phelps. But when he began to explain his work, we realized it's everywhere. "We do tags for the Red Cross... Macy's, we do tags for them that go on their rugs.... here's a tag for waste management."
And there is a lot of variety. Phelps showed us a tag that "is used for waste that comes off a nuclear powered ship... we make tags that go on those bales that go into caskets that we are all going to be lying on one of these days."
Avery is Allen-Bailey's largest customer. The blank tags and merchandise tags you see in Office Max, Staples and Home Depot all come from Allen-Bailey, even some Martha Stewart tags.
It all started with a wooden nursery stake in 1911 in the village of Dansville. The stakes were written upon and used to identify a shrub or a tree. The company moved to Caledonia two years later. Today it has 98 employees, many of them second generation Allen-Bailey employees like press operator Jack Dykstra. He once recognized the company's work in the movie "Ghostbusters". It was a "Danger" tag hanging on a fire extinguisher.
"I was surprised when I saw it," Dykstra said. "But I kept pointing it out to everyone when I saw it."
Much of the machinery the company uses has been the same for 60 to 70 years. What it churns out can be different from day to day.
For example, when we visited, a luggage tag was on one of the printers. It was for the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas. They printed and cut 60,000 of the luggage tags in 14 hours. Then they went over to the string and wire department.
And we haven't even mentioned the label department. Yes, Allen-Bailey Tag & Label is a busy place. Again, it's hard to put a label on all they do.
"You never know where the application is going to take us," said Phelps.
Which makes explaining the job hard, but one they've loved for more than 100 years.