Navitor Specialty Products started with...
Bill & Betty Carlson Start a Part-Time Business Venture in their Home
Carlson Craft’s founders, Bill and Betty Carlson, started the company in their family room in Mankato, Minnesota as a part-time business venture in 1948. With little more equipment than a Remington typewriter, the couple mailed out 50 letters to local business firms and individuals to promote the Carlson Letter Service. Very quickly they decided they wanted to be a wholesale supplier of wedding stationery.
“From 1945 I had the “American Dream” of someday having my own business. After investigating several possibilities the idea of a letter shop seemed the most logical one. (The U.S. Dept. of Commerce had numerous plans for returning servicemen to “start a small business” after WWII.) Betty and I had typing and mimeographing experience, so we started a “Part-Time Venture” in our home.” – Bill Carlson
The Company Becomes Carlson Wedding Service
After years of successful growth, Carlson’s once small, part-time company became a full-fledged business. In 1957, the business changed its name to Carlson Wedding Service.
In 1970, the company became Carlson Craft and built a name for itself, not only for manufacturing high-quality wedding invitations and stationery products, but also for being a great place to work.
Glen Taylor Joins Carlson Wedding Service
Glen Taylor, then a college student, got one of his first jobs with the company. Taylor loved a challenge, had ideas to make things better, and had the drive to get things done. He worked almost every job at the plant, allowing him to really learn the business. Listening to what his customers wanted, he developed new ways to cut delivery times, improve service, and expand the company’s product offerings.
As Glen looks back,
“It seems obvious now, but others were just printers, while we were also marketers, listening to brides and giving them what they wanted.”
Bill Carlson Retires and Glen Taylor Takes Ownership
So Glen put his farm boy ingenuity to work. Using parts from an old TV, a car, and a stove, among other things, he built a stamping press that could do its typical job in one step instead of two. This saved a penny per napkin imprint, which eventually turned into a fortune and allowed Glen to purchase Carlson Craft upon Bill Carlson’s retirement in 1975. In the same stroke he officially set up the holding company of Taylor Corporation.
Golden Heart Child Care Center Opens
As the Taylor Corporation grew and more women joined the company, it became evident the company had an opportunity to do something few others had done: provide childcare for families employed at Taylor Corporation. The opening of Golden Heart Childcare was a revolutionary business practice and a perfect example of how the company values its employees.
Carlson Craft Specialty Products Forms as a Division within Carlson Craft
Carlson Craft created the Specialty Products division to focus on custom stamps and engraved products that catered to business needs. These specialty products were one-off, custom products that did not involve printing on paper.
2000PLUS Brand is Launched
Having served the needs of businesses with custom stamps for some time already, we saw the opportunity to develop our own stamp brand. With the launch of the 2000PLUS® brand, we leveraged our knowledge of stamps into a brand that we owned, allowing us to own the distribution and control the supply chain of component parts and giving us a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Carlson Craft Commercial is Formed
By 1989, Carlson Craft’s efforts to diversify their product lines to serve the custom printing needs of businesses had grown significantly. To better serve their two distinct customers, Carlson Craft was split into two businesses: Carlson Craft Social and Carlson Craft Commercial. The Specialty Products division moved under Carlson Craft Commercial.
In 1995, Carlson Craft Specialty Products (CCSP) moved into its own building (the one you are standing in today) and was supported by a focused product development team.
Specialty Products Partners with Shachihata as a Licensed Manufacturer of Xstamper
This marks a notable event in our stamp production capabilities as Specialty Products was the first outside vendor licensed by Shachihata to be an Xstamper Manufacturing Partner. We now are a larger producer of Xstamper stamps than even Shachihata.
Taylor Acquires Cosco Industries
Founded in 1893, COSCO was a small company with a big reputation for customized rubber stamps and engraved signs. The acquisition of COSCO expanded our manufacturing and marketing capabilities of marking and identification products.
Carlson Craft Business Solutions Group Rebrands as Navitor
Since being created as its own business unit back in 1989, Carlson Craft Business Solutions Group (formerly Carlson Craft Commercial) had diversified beyond Stationery and Specialty Products to encompass Presentation Folders (now FolderWorks) and custom Labels (now LabelWorks). In 2008, these four divisions of the Business Solutions Group rebranded under the “Navitor” name.
The First Flatbed Printer is Installed
Previously known exclusively for custom stamps and engraved badges, our growth strategy expanded to include wide format full color digital printing. In 2009, we installed our first flatbed printer, marking our entry into wide format, full color digital printing.
The years of 2012-2017 saw annual investments in equipment to exponentially increase our production capacity in order to meet the demands of sales growth and new product development. This period saw new flatbed and roll-to-roll printers, cutters, slitters, routers, finishing equipment, and upgrades to support our legacy product lines.
Architectural Signage Team Moves to North Mankato
An earlier acquisition by Navitor of a printing facility in Spokane, WA offered us the opportunity to expand into architectural signage. This printing facility had a small division that created ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant signage for businesses. While Navitor focused on the printing acquisition, Specialty Products took over the signage business and, in 2010, moved the signage team to North Mankato.
In the years since, ADA and architectural signage has grown to be one of our premier product lines and areas of fastest growth.
NSP Becomes its own Business Unit
As the demand grew for wide format visual graphics, it became apparent that the Specialty Products unit of Navitor needed to have its own strategic direction and leadership. NSP (Navitor Specialty Products) was born in 2014 and quickly began capitalizing on new markets with its newfound autonomy.
Taylor Acquires Standard Register
The acquisition of Standard Register, now Taylor Communications, takes Taylor Corporation over the $2 billion mark.
NSP Launches Communication Boards
Taylor Communications saw the need in the healthcare market for patient communication boards that offered the benefits of a white board but also allowed hospitals a cost effective method to maintain branding consistency.
They looked to NSP to develop a solution and we responded with our Communication Boards. They have a dry erase surface with replaceable inserts that can be easily changed without having to remove or replace the board itself. Our communication boards offer a cost effective solution for improved patient experience and better outcomes.
The Communication Board product line is so innovative that it received the Glen Taylor & Deb Taylor Award for Innovation in 2016.
NSP & Global Telecommunications Company Launch Program with Taylor Communications
We embrace challenging customer requests as opportunities to leverage our experience and technology to provide solutions where other suppliers have struggled. Such was the case with our global telecommunications partner. They needed a solution to help better control messaging— ensuring delivery of the right message at the right time, across multiple channels— with a unified brand experience.
Using our integrated ordering technology, individual store locations can log in and order personalized, branded materials on demand when a new promotion rolls out. To support this effort, we re-engineered our internal workflow processes so we could create a new SKU and be in production with a web-to-print order within 4 hours.
In recognition of the innovation and collaboration necessary to make this program successful, the team was awarded the Glen Taylor & Deb Taylor Award for Innovation in 2018.