Knowing Customers is Key to Ink Makers, Inc.’s Success
By David Savastano
As most ink companies can attest, manufacturing sheetfed offset ink is more of an art than anything else. Printers require specialized inks, which ultimately have to perform on press.
For Ink Makers, Inc., a sheetfed offset ink specialist located in Commerce, CA, customizing inks and serving their customers has been a way of life for more than three decades. The company relies on quality and service to thrive in the high-end commercial marketplace, although it is also manufacturing inks for rotary screen and specialty formulations for plastics.
To meet sheetfed printers’ needs, Ink Makers, Inc. has developed specialized process inks and computer-guided color matching.
“We almost always work on high-end sheetfed,” said Steve Miller, the company’s vice president of manufacturing. “We’re strong in technical service and turn-around time. People look to use us because we can turn around orders in a day or two, rather than months.”
Mr. Miler said that part of that service comes from knowing customers.
“We know our customers very well,” Mr. Miller said. “Much of our work is customized. We custom make a lot of inks for our customers, even taking into account their press conditions. Our products are really more than just ink in a fountain.”
Ink Makers, Inc. has come a long way from its early days in 1969, when Mr. Miller, Jack Freiss, Howard French and Ken Mills, a silent partner, formed the company. Mr. Miller, Mr. Freiss and Mr. French had been with Roberts and Porter before setting off into business for themselves.
“I had worked in the warehouse and in purchasing for Roberts and Porter when I was sent as part of an agreement we had with Canadian Fine Color to provide technical advice,” Mr. Miller said. “After five months there, I came back to the U.S. and worked in the lab. Three years later, we decided to form our own company, with Jack handling sales, Howard working with the books and myself on the manufacturing end. We have been making a profit ever since 1971, though margins continue to shrink in the high-end sector.”
Today, the company is led by Mr. Miller and Rick Mills, Ink Makers, Inc.’s president. The company has continued to serve the high-end commercial market, opening another branch in Southern California to be nearer to some of its customers, always with an eye toward helping its customers win awards for print quality.
“We’ve now been in business for 33 years, and we have plants in Los Angeles and San Marcos, near San Diego,” Mr. Miller said.
To move forward in the ink industry, Ink Makers, Inc. relies on its relationships with its customers to continue, and many of these customers are the ink company’s best advertising. “Word of mouth leads to growth,” Mr. Miller said.
Ultimately, treating quality and service as art forms will drive Ink Makers, Inc.’s growth in the coming years.