INX, Triangle Digital Create Triangle Digital INX Co.

By David Savastano, Ink World Editor | 03.14.06

New venture formed by INX International and Triangle Digital will offer digital inks and services to key markets, particularly commercial sheetfed.

Sakata Inx worldwide operations announced an agreement Feb. 17 with California-based Triangle Digital LLC, forming Triangle Digital INX Co. (TDI) to offer digital inks and application services to customers throughout the world in conjunction with INX International Ink Co. INX International and newly formed TDI are both subsidiaries of Sakata Inx.

From left, Ken Kisner, Brad Kisner, INX International chairman Hiroshi Ota, Rick Clendenning and Bryce Kristo.
Founded in 2002 as a subsidiary of Triangle Coatings, Triangle Digital LLC specializes in outdoor durable pigment-based superwide and wide format digital inks and protective clear coatings, and is a leading global supplier of inkjet products with a network of more than 100 distributors globally. The company had started developing and supplying digital inks in the mid-1990s in the U.S., and then spread into Europe and Asia.

Sakata Inx is strong in digital ink technologies, but INX International had yet to enter the ink jet ink market prior to this acquisition. According to INX president and CEO Rick Clendenning, when Triangle Digital’s Brad Kisner and Ken Kisner contacted him regarding a possible collaboration, the opportunity quickly became clear to all.

“Brad and Ken came to us with the idea, and it made sense,” Mr. Clendenning said. “It’s a perfect fit. We’ve had some people come up to us to ask about digital ink, and now we can help our customers out. All of us felt we had to do this, and now we have a very good group of people joining us.”

“The fit is so strong,” said Charles Sagert, senior vice president of sales for INX International. “Triangle Digital has done an excellent job positioning itself in their markets.”

Brad Kisner, president of Triangle Digital, said INX International looked like a good opportunity when he contacted Mr. Clendenning.

“We were looking at restructuring, and we started exploring different options and started targeting potential buyers,” he said. “We feel that we made the right decision. The personalities of our respective companies fit unbelievably well.”

For the Kisners, Triangle Digital INX offers the best of all worlds. They will continue with the company they started, and be able to branch out into much larger markets.

“Ken and I want to stay in the game,” Brad Kisner said. “We have our heart and soul in the company, and our employees, customers and suppliers are family to us. We didn’t want to see that gone.”


Entering the Commercial Printing Market

While Triangle Digital INX is well entrenched in the superwide and wide format markets, it is the lucrative commercial sheetfed market that is the key to this new entity. That movement toward digital has been readily apparent at key print shows such as Drupa 2004 and Print 05.

Brad Kisner said that the early superwide and wide format printers pioneered digital printing and took risks. “We didn’t have much access to traditional printing companies,” Mr. Kisner said. “We now see commercial printing starting to adopt digital technologies.”

Mr. Clendenning said that a key focus of the new enterprise will be smoothing commercial and packaging printers’ expansion into the digital market, enabling them to “hit the ground running” in terms of digital products, print quality and productivity.

“TDI is a win-win-win combination for customers, both short- and long-term,” Mr. Clendenning said. “For one, Triangle Digital LLC is an established, recognized leader in the digital print arena, with considerable technical know-how, digital parts and servicing, as well as ink products. It’s an excellent fit with our own INX International offerings and customer base. And, thirdly, Sakata Inx’ global reach and raw material sourcing, its R&D capabilities and track record in developing all types of ink, bode well for future product advances with more digital ink systems precisely engineered for this market – even as new digital press technologies evolve.

“In short, TDI brings customers the best of both worlds … to help printers deliver the full range of traditional commercial as well as digital print capabilities. And that’s not all.”

“It’s easy to understand many commercial printers’ interest in participating in the digital market’s rapid growth,” Mr. Kisner said. “But it’s also important to understand what’s driving that growth.

“The rapid increase of niche market products, customized and tightly targeted promotions – resulting in shorter print runs and faster turnaround – make streamlined digital systems vital to accessing this business,” Mr. Kisner said. “Although this brings printers a new, and typically higher, margin revenue stream, the investment is still considerable. And it’s not as simple as just installing a digital press and starting to run jobs.”

One key is being able to provide consistent color.

“Providing constant color is one of the key facets we provide our customers,” said Ken Kisner, Triangle Digital’s chief technology officer and senior vice president. “Triangle Digital inks can go into an Epson or Xaar printhead, and regardless of whether it is UV, water- or solvent-based inks, print consistent color proofs. Our being able to work with all of the major press and printhead technologies makes our customers’ jobs easier and provides us with a huge opportunity.”

The ability of Triangle Digital INX to provide expertise to commercial printers who are entering the digital market will be a huge advantage for those customers.

“This is where the combined, practical pressroom know-how that TDI offers can provide a critical edge,” Mr. Clendenning said. “Current INX customers appreciate the easy, direct access we give them – not only to sales reps, but to application specialists, product development and technical support personnel. Readily available, multiple-discipline assistance can be crucial to making new operations productive and profitable, quickly.”

INX has a powerful network already in place in the sheetfed market, and with training, they will be prepared to help customers move forward in the digital world.

“Going forward,” Mr. Clendenning said, “key people in INX’ commercial printing group will be working closely with Triangle Digital specialists, strengthening not only digital application expertise, but mutual insights involving both processes. While it’s vital for printers to have application-specific know-how at their fingertips, it is also important for ‘the left hand to know what the right hand is doing’; and vice versa. They are going to have to train all of us.

“This kind of combined TDI know-how and servicing capability will prove to be invaluable as printers develop and solidify both types of business in their operations,” Mr. Clendenning concluded.

Ultimately, customers will decide whether this venture is a success, and both companies said they have received immediate feedback from their customers.

“We’ve had a number of customers call to say they are doing a little bit of digital and want to work with us on that,” said Bryce Kristo, INX International’s chief financial officer and senior vice president, general affairs.

“Every single customer we have spoken with felt very positive about this,” Brad Kisner said.


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