2013 Washington Manufacturing Awards: Innovator of the Year | Large Firms


Winner: RPI, Tukwila
The business behind the service that lets you transform your snapshots into photo books, stationery and greeting cards is based in Tukwila. RPI claims more than 40 percent of the total on-demand personalized market, with products sold through retailers and shipped directly to consumers. It’s not an easy business to operate, with thousands of items, customizable in countless ways, and production facilities around the globe handling seasonal spikes in order volume. But with lean production techniques, advanced information systems and database management, RPI is able to deliver more than 98 percent of products within the requested time frame and with minimal defects. The company puts a lot of emphasis on recruiting and retaining the right people to make things work, with enhanced benefits, certification and training subsidies, and referral rewards for new hires recommended by existing employees. Since acquiring a Dutch firm in 2011, RPI has boosted revenue by 41 percent and employee count by 35 percent. RPI is constantly looking for more growth opportunities; in November, it partnered with two other local businesses, Madison Park Group and humor website Cheezburger, on a new line of personalized greeting cards.

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