It is the dream of any entrepreneur to be able to start up a successful business. For Ken Smith and Chris Blackburn, the opportunity to begin a specialty coatings company that can compete with major suppliers has become a dream come true.
While working together at Wikoff Color, Mr. Smith and Mr. Blackburn decided that the time was right to go into the energy curable and aqueous coatings business for themselves. With the support of the Virkler Chemical Company, they formed Coatings Concepts by Virkler (CCV).
“We had an opportunity to do something on our own and we felt there was an opportunity in energy curable, so we took the leap in December 2002,” said Mr. Smith, CCV’s president. “We specialize in all types of coatings, including UV, EB, aqueous and release.” CCV also supplies its customers with anilox roll cleaners and pressroom chemistry.
“When people heard that we were going to create a coatings company, they asked, ‘Why with all the competition?’After explaining our energy curable focus and commitment to low odor, low migrant technology, they thought the idea was great,” said Mr.Blackburn, CCV’s vice president and technical leader.
Working with Virkler gave CCV
an excellenthead start. Being headquartered in a 150,000 square foot ISO certified facility, with experienced chemists, tremendous manufacturing capability and an extensive analytical department has allowed CCV to develop one of the best product lines available.
“There are a lot of small companies that won’t succeed, because they don’t have the means to support the leaders in the industry. But with our building and our equipment, we’ve been able to do this, and do it effectively,” said Mr. Blackburn.
With these resources, the company has been able to focus on providing the cleanest possible formulations.
“Our core products are low odor, low migrant EB coatings,” Mr. Smith said. “We specialize in very clean formulations, and even have dedicated equipment exclusively for our EB coatings.”
“We’ve drawn most of our attention because we’re producing clean products as our regular product, not as a specialty,” said Mr. Blackburn. “If you make that your core, then you don’t have to get better.”
CCV works closely with its customers to meet their needs, which, in turn, allows its customers to have an edge in their own markets. The company stresses its development capabilities, with teams consisting of members from R&D and technical support assigned to assess the customer’s situation and provide a quick response.
That same approach to partnership also is how the company works with its vendors.
“We have formed strategic relationships with all of our key raw material suppliers for all of our product lines, and are single sourcing our raw materials through vendor audits and specific manufacturing procedures,” said Mr. Blackburn. “That way, we reduce the risk of contamination and meet our high quality standards.”
In particular, CCV coatings are used in flexible packaging, beverage packaging, folding carton and commercial printing.
“We’re seeing tremendous growth in the EB market, particularly in flexible packaging,” Mr. Smith said.
Business has been strong, and the founders have recently bought out Virkler’s shares. Considering the growth in the flexible packaging market, CCV is well positioned to continue to make strides in the industry.
“We have been very pleased with where we are,” Mr. Smith said. “Now, just a year later, a lot of the big guys are taking us seriously.”
“We’ve been well received,” Mr Blackburn added. “Beverage packaging has been excellent for us as well as flexible packaging, the new frontier. That’s where we will make our name.”