A visit to Vrijdag premium printing. What is the first thing you see when you walk into a humidor? What catches your eyes? It’s not the cigars, it’s the packaging. The artwork on the boxes. The artwork on the cigars. The labels. And there is a world behind those labels that are an essential part of the cigar industry. Yet, the general public doesn’t know about these essential suppliers in the cigar industry Today we shine light one of the biggest and most renowned printers for cigar labels in the world. Vrijdag Premium Printing in Eindhoven, The Netherlands.
More than a century
As a Dutchman and working in the cigar industry, I had heard about Vrijdag Premium Printing. I met Peter Vrijdag and Henk Nota on several occasions. And I passed their headquarters in the southern town of Eindhoven many times. Yet I had never had the opportunity to visit them. So last September, right after the Intertabac trade show I went to see Vrijdag Premium Printing. I was impressed with the history of the company. With the pride that they have in all that they do. By the sheer size of the company, which is larger than I expected. With the knowledge about the printing process. By the challenges, the beautiful mix of old school and modern machines. The craft and the way that Vrijdag Premium Printing is working to be the most sustainable printing company in the world.
The year was 1905, teacher and music lover Louis Vrijdag needed sheet music printed for his choir. An entrepreneur at heart, he decided to give it a try instead of looking for a printer. So he started a lithographic printing company. Little did he know that 115 years later, Vrijdag Premium Printing would be the leading printing company in the cigar industry. And not just for cigars. High-end alcohol and cosmetic brands found Vrijdag Premium Printing as well. Vrijdag Premium Printing also makes packaging for some of their clients, not just labels.
Printing cigar bands
Eindhoven is located in the Dutch Provence of Noord Brabant. It borders an area called De Peel. And De Peel was the main area for cigar production in The Netherlands in those days. Royal Agio is the last brand standing from those heydays of the Dutch cigar production days. So Vrijdag Premium Printing started to print cigar bands fairly early in their history. Right after the Second World War, Peter Vrijdag knew that it was time to expand internationally. The world had changed, and the time that Vrijdag Premium Printing could survive and thrive on just Dutch customers was gone. Even though Royal Agio remains a loyal partner until today.
So Peter Vrijdag, son of Louis, got on a boat and set sail to the United States. With a suitcase full of samples he started to travel all over the east coast of the United States. From New York, he worked his way down to Tampa, Florida. At that time, Tampa was the heart of the American Cigar Industry, with Ybor City as the epicenter. He came back to The Netherlands with a book full of orders. And it’s a testament to the values and qualities of Vrijdag Premium Printing that some cigar manufacturers are still loyal customers, almost seventy years later.
What makes Vrijdag so special?
Vrijdag Premium Printing is using classic offset printing techniques but with modern machines. They refuse to go digital as that doesn’t deliver the quality that Vrijdag Premium Printing demands and stands for. The work Vrijdag Premium Printing is doing is so specialized that they have their internal education system. The knowledge required to work as a printer at Vrijdag Premium Printing isn’t being taught at any regular education. The company has it’s own ink producing laboratory. They are the leaders in very detailed printing, bronzing, hot foil printing, and embossing in registration. Vrijdag Premium Printing is also the first to be able to print holograms on cigar bands. And they can offer other security measures such as UV light printing. All to fight against counterfeiters.
Vrijdag Premium Printing employs 115 people. Most of them are located in the headquarters, a beautiful building from 1951. With offices and a large area where several offset printers, boxing machines, and other machinery produce the beautiful labels that we all enjoy when we select our cigars. Have a look at the details on the Arturo Fuente Opus X rings. The gold bronzing and hot foil on the Perdomo Anniversary cigar bands. And you’ll see the extreme quality that Vrijdag Premium Printing offers to their clients.
Ministry of Cigars is working on follow up articles with more detailed information about the printing techniques and what Vrijdag Premium Printing can offer to prevent counterfeits.