NAPIM Convention Focuses On Growth, Innovation and Collaboration

By David Savastano, Ink World Editor | 06.05.08

For ink manufacturers, the relationship between suppliers and customers is critical. Ink manufacturers

Joining Jeff Koppelman, fourth from left, this year’s Ault Award recipient, are past Ault Award honorees Michael Murphy, Cal Sutphin, Urban Hirsch III, Jim Coleman and Rick Clendenning.
increasingly collaborate with suppliers to promote growth and innovation, and similarly, printers work closely with their ink suppliers.
With that in mind, the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers’ (NAPIM) 92nd Annual Convention, held April 11-14 at Hyatt Grand Champions Resort, Indian Wells, CA, concentrated on the theme of “Grow, Innovate, Collaborate.” All things considered, it was a fitting focus for the industry as it faces some major challenges.

State of the Industry

One of the most important aspects of the annual convention is the presentation of NAPIM’s State of the Industry Report. This year’s report was delivered by William Miller of Flint Group, Alan Kalmikoff of Keim-Additec Surface USA and Rick Tolin of Lubrizol Advanced Materials, and the numbers were reflective of the challenges the industry is facing in terms of sales and raw material prices.

This year’s Printing Ink Pioneer Award recipients were, from left, Joe Schlinkert of Color Resolutions International; Ronald Grant of Kramer Ink Co.; Richard Breen of Central Ink Corporation; Jim Cunningham of Sun Chemical Latin America; Hiroshi Ota of INX International Ink Co. and Sakata INX; and William Miller of Flint Group North America.
According to surveys conducted by NAPIM, the volume of ink sales declined by 3.7 percent in 2007 compared to 2006, while dollar value dropped 1.5 percent. While that means that prices did increase somewhat, the drop in ink usage is obviously a cause for concern. That decline is most clearly reflected in the packaging market, which NAPIM reported dropped 5.5 percent by volume and 4 percent by value.
“People are concentrating on key areas such as raw materials, and the other area is that everyone is counting on packaging for growth and that didn’t happen in 2007,” Mr. Tolin said.
Surprisingly, the profitability of the ink industry rose a bit in 2007. Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) moved up to 2.7 percent, up from 1.9 percent in 2006 and 0.9 percent in 2005; this is still a relatively low number, but at least it is trending upward.
“There seems to be a lack of opportunity for growth in the North American market, which makes the importance of managing your business that much more important,” Mr. Miller said. “You have to be prepared to survive.”

The continued high costs of raw materials remain the biggest concern for ink companies. According to

From left, Ed and Joanne Pruitt and Rudi and Nita Lenz of Sun Chemical.
NAPIM, 59.2 percent of operating expenses went to raw materials in 2007, a number that has steadily increased in recent years: raw material expenses averaged 54.1 percent from 2000-06.

“A barrel of crude oil was $58 last April, and we expected $50 to $80 per barrel of crude oil this year, but we have seen it go as high as $110 to $120 a barrel,” Mr. Kalmikoff said. “It certainly can keep going up, and that affects us in the pocketbook. It is inflationary and affects raising prices, which is a critical issue.”
Aside from the report, there were some key business presentations, including Gene Slowinski, managing partner, Alliance Group Management and director, Strategic Alliance Research, who talked about “Implementing Open Innovation: Road Warrior or Road Kill, It’s Your Choice,” discussing the value of using strategic alliances to link resources.

Flint Group was represented, from left, by William Miller, Mike Impastato, Jan Paul van der Velde, Diane Parisi, Gail Ward, Dave and Tina Frescoln, Vicki Hillman, Ron Gallas, and Duke and Elizabeth Thompson.
“What are the Drivers and Where are They Going,” a panel discussion by representatives of various print markets including flexo, commercial and digital, examined trends ranging from  changing markets to the environment.
“Our technology is improving,” said Bill Pope, technical director of the Flexographic Technical Association. “Ink has come a long way. They are a lot more stable on press.”
“Inkjet added low-run capabilities to screen, and now digital printing is a core technology while screen is a support technology,” noted Michael Robertson, president and CEO of the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA)
“We have to address the issue of going ‘green,’” said Dale Aigner, owner of Bentley Printing & Graphics. “Our clients are asking us if we are there.” 

Ault and Pioneer Awards

One of the most important highlights of the annual convention is the presentation of the Ault Award and

INX International Ink were represented by Kristin and Ken Kisner, Jeanne and Brad Kisner, Yoshiko and Hiroshi Ota, Peggy and Rick Westrom, Kitty and Rick Clendenning, Kotaro Morita and George Polasik.
Printing Ink Pioneer Awards.
The Ault Award, the highest honor in the U.S. printing ink industry, was presented to Jeff Koppelman, president of Gans Ink & Supply Co. and former NAPIM president from 2003-2005.
“I have to say that I am shocked and overwhelmed,” Mr. Koppelman said after he received the award. “It’s an incredible honor and an incredible industry.”
In addition, NAPIM honored six industry leaders with the prestigious Printing Ink Pioneer Awards. The honorees were Richard Breen, president of Central Ink Corporation; Jim Cunningham, president of Sun Chemical Latin America; Ronald Grant, senior director of  “outside operations” at Kramer Ink Co.; William Miller, president of Flint Group North America; Hiroshi Ota, chairman of INX International Ink Co. as well as senior managing director of Sakata INX; and Joe Schlinkert, technical director, Color Resolutions International LLC.
Mr. Coleman said that the feedback on the convention was good.
“The feedback we received was great, and our numbers were similar to the previous year,” Mr. Coleman said. “Our attendees said they appreciated the combination of business sessions and networking opportunities.”
“I had more people come up to me and say it was the best convention ever, both because of the presentations and the location,” said NAPIM president Michael Gettis of Colorcon. “Just wait until next year!”
In fact, next year, NAPIM’s annual convention will be held at Omni Orlando Resort at Champions Gate, Orlando, FL, from March 22-25. For more information, call NAPIM at (732) 855-1525; e-mail at napim@napim.org; or through the web at www.napim.org.