Developing “universal” products that can be used for a variety of applications is the goal of many businesses, as companies look to streamline their operations. While it is often an unattainable goal, some entrepreneurs have been able to find the ideal solutions for their customers’ needs.
In the case of Inkcups Now Corporation, Danvers, MA, the company has been able to solve the need for inkcups for pad printing presses. In achieving this, Inkcups Now has also developed new solutions in other areas, including inks, printers and plate-making.
Ben Adner, founder and president of Inkcups Now, is the classic story of an entrepreneur starting his company from the ground up. After leaving a specialty printing machine company, Mr. Adner began developing a universal inkcup in his home.
“After my non-compete expired, I started developing universal inkcups,” Mr. Adner said. “Every pad printing machine used a different inkcup, and I started out in my house to create a universal inkcup for all of the machines. I did what I knew, and my company started to grow.”
Soon, Mr. Adner’s products gained traction n the market, allowing Inkcups Now to move into a new building in Danvers, MA. However, Mr. Adner noticed other needs in the niche markets his company served, and turned his attention on these opportunities.
“Two key things happened for us,” Mr. Adner said. “First, we developed a direct-to-plate laser for pad printing. The old technology used film, required five steps and a half hour to produce the plate. Our technology needs two minutes or less to produce the plate, and has the added benefit of not needing film or chemicals. This technology quickly became popular, and we were introduced to a lot of large companies.”
The next key step was bringing ink to their customers.
“We signed up with Sericom, a very high quality ink line, to distribute in the U.S.,” Mr. Adner said. “Ink is the glue that holds everything together. This gave us the opportunity to sell high quality inks in areas such as ceramics, glass, metals and textiles.We went from being Sericom’s smallest distributor to its largest in the world.” The company also supplies inkjet inks from other major OEMs.
Supplying inks and equipment is one thing, but to have customers optimize these products is critical. For Inkcups Now, supporting customers through technical service is essential.
“Our technical service is what sets us apart. Our technical sales people help customers solve problems,” Mr. Adner said. “We’ve continued to grow, and have a large direct sales force in the U.S., plus overseas in Mexico, Canada, Honduras and Guatemala, and networks in Europe and Asia. It’s an expensive way to go, but some distributors can’t provide the technical support our customers deserve.”
That emphasis on customer support even extends to telephones, where customers don’t have to worry about being relegated to a series of dead-ends.
“Anytime someone calls, we have someone who picks up the phone and answers their questions,” Mr. Adner noted. “People call you for a reason, and they deserve immediate results.”
Because of Inkcups Now’s innovations, consumers are seeing changes in the products they buy. One example can be found in clothing, where the traditional sewn-in tag is being replaced by label-free garments.
“One area of growth for us is the printing of neck labels on shirts,” Mr. Adner said. “There are cost savings to suppliers by eliminating sewn-in tags. We are selling a lot of machines and ink to this market, and our ink really suits the application.”
Inkcups Now has now successfully branched into the digital market.
“Our inkjet technology is driving our growth,” Mr. Adner said. “We just launched our new XJet inkjet hybrid machine, a UV LED curable hybrid between a scanner and inline machine, and is fast and flexible.”
As a result of the company’s growth, Inkcups Now just moved into brand-new headquarters on Jan. 1, and the company has plenty of room for further expansion.
“We have a lot of history in our niche markets,” Mr. Adner concluded. “We know our markets well, and we have worked very hard to put ourselves in position in the markets we are in. What drives us is a lot of hard work and new products, and we focus on technical service and customer support. We do this better than our competitors.”
David Savastano, Editor