Custom Printing Inks’ Name Suits Company Just Fine
By David Savastano
For decades, Custom Printing Inks was a key player in the solvent-based packaging ink industry. In 1999, Gerald Solomon, the company’s founder, decided to retire, and sold his business to Premier Ink Systems.
Custom Printing Inks’ headquarters in Fairview, TN.
Tom Farmer, Premier Ink Systems’ president, selected Andrew Kuhn to run the new acquisition, which was headquartered in San Diego. In 2004, Mr. Farmer offered Mr. Kuhn the opportunity to acquire Custom Printing Inks, and Mr. Kuhn decided the time was right to go into business for himself.
First, Mr. Kuhn wanted to move back home, so he relocated Custom Printing Inks to Nashville, TN.
“I wanted to move it back home to Tennessee, temporarily in Nashville, and realized I needed a larger building, so I relocated to Fairview, right outside of Nashville,” said Mr. Kuhn, who is co-owner along with his wife, Susan. “Now we’re set up and going full speed ahead.”
Custom Printing Inks continues tofocus on the packaging ink side, specializing in water- and solvent-based inks and UV coatings, and Mr. Kuhn said the company isramping up silk screen inks. Because of the company’s dedication to quality and service, business continues to be strong, and most of Custom Printing Inks’ longtime customers are still with the new business.
“When we made our transition to Nashville, we did keep most of our customers, and I knew there are a lot of printers in Tennessee and a lot of business for us,” Mr. Kuhn said. “Our first goal was to grow our business in our own backyard, and we’re getting there.We also have customers as far away as Alaska and Canada, and throughout the U.S. and Latin America.”
Much like the original company, Custom Printing Inks is a family business with a lot of experience in ink and printing; in fact, Mr. Kuhn met his wife when she was working at a printer. Mr. Kuhn first joined the ink industry more than 20 years ago, starting in the labs at Strahan Ink & Lacquer, which would eventually become part of Aarberg. He also worked with Flint Ink and Progressive Ink before joining Premier Ink Systems.
“We’re going back to the original Custom Printing Inks format – the small family business,” Mr. Kuhn said. “My son John runs production, and my oldest son, Ben, will be joining us shortly in operations.”
Mr. Kuhn definitely enjoys running his own company. “I like running my own business,” he said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way. The only people I’m responsible to are my customers and employees. You see things happen, and you accomplish things.”
The packaging ink industry offers opportunities for growth, and also allows a company to differentiate itself with quality and service.
“Our customers hear about us through word of mouth,” Mr. Kuhn said. “All of a sudden, I’ll get a phone call from a printer who heard about us and has a specialty application. When our customers call us up for specialty applications, we either build inks to suit their needs or tweak our standard inks. We will supply any kind of quantity, from one gallon to 55-gallon drums.
“Our inks seem to sell themselves,” Mr. Kuhn concluded. “We focus on quality, and the Custom Printing Inks name really suits us.”