The North American Top 20 Report

By Staff | 03.30.09

Leading ink manufacturers had a challenging year, as higher raw material prices dominated the first half of 2008, and the global recession heavily impacted sales at the end of the year.

RankCompanyNorth AmericanGlobal InkLast
Ink SalesSales (Parent)Year
(in millions)(in millions)

1Sun Chemical$1,800*$4,000 (Sun Chemical)**1
2Flint Group$1,000*$3,500 (Flint Group) 2
3INX International$325$1,050 (Sakata INX)3
5Siegwerk$224$1,170 (Siegwerk Group)4
6 Hostmann-Steinberg$170$1,100 (Huber Group)6
7DuPont Ink Jet$150*7
7Wikoff Color $150* 8
9Sanchez SA de CV$1349
10EFI, Inc.$75* 12
10Fujifilm Sericol$75* $275 (Fujifilm Sericol Intl)12
12Central Ink$70 10
12Toyo Ink America$70 $1,430 (Toyo Ink)10
12Van Son$70 $150 (Royal Dutch Van Son)16
15Superior$65 14
17Ink Systems$6017
17SICPA Securink$60* $400 (SICPA Group)18
19American Inks & Coatings$5518
20Color Resolutions$51*–

* Ink World estimate
** Parent company Dainippon Ink & Chemicals has global ink sales of $6.51 billion

Sun Chemical Corporation

35 Waterview Blvd.
Parsippany, NJ 07054
Phone: (973) 404-6000
Fax: (973) 404-6001
Sales: Sun Chemical had annual sales of $4 billion in printing inks and colorants worldwide. North American Sales: $1.8 billion (Ink World estimate).

Major Products: Broad product portfolio with capabilities in web heatset and sheetfed offset; publication and packaging gravure; news ink and publication coldset; flexographic packaging inks; corrugated packaging inks; energy curable inks and coatings; screen inks, label and narrow web inks, toner, inkjet materials, adhesives for packaging, overprint varnishes, specialty coatings, effect inks, color software and brand color management, printed electronics, security inks and coatings, and organic colorants for inks, plastics, paints, coatings and cosmetics.

Key Personnel: Rudi Lenz, president and CEO, Sun Chemical and Board member

Key Leaders in alphabetical order: Cynthia Arnold, chief technology officer; Melvin Cox, senior VP and general counsel; John Gowlett, VP, global operations; Susan Guerin, CFO; Gregory Lawson, president, Sun Chemical Latin America; Brian Leen, president, Sun Chemical North America; John McKeown, senior VP, human resources; David Meldram, president, Sun Chemical Europe and Board member; Felipe Mellado, chief marketing officer; Myron Petruch, president, Performance Pigments; Edward Pruitt, chief procurement officer; Bradley Schrader, VP, strategic planning and business development.

Number of Employees: More than 11,000 worldwide.

Operating Facilities: Sun Chemical has more than 300 manufacturing and service locations worldwide and more than 200 customer in-plant locations in the U.S. alone.

Comments: For Sun Chemical, 2008 was a year full of challenges, starting with higher raw material prices and concluding with the global economic downturn. Brian Leen, president, North American Inks, Sun Chemical, said that the company made significant efforts to offset these problems, and was able to weather the economic storm.

“2008 presented significant challenges for Sun Chemical, beginning with the rapid rise in raw material costs,” Mr. Leen said. “In North America and throughout the world, Sun Chemical took several measures to offset these costs, including the increase in prices across all business segments and the restructuring of our overall business model. These actions helped mitigate the impact; however, as is the case with most companies in our industry, volumes in the fourth quarter fell off dramatically, demanding that we take further measures including additional cost reduction.

“Sun Chemical did not meet the expectations we set late in 2007, however, things could have been much worse had it not been for the steps taken throughout the year,” Mr. Leen added.

In terms of raw materials, Mr. Leen noted that 2008 saw a virtual explosion of raw materials price increases driven by a number of factors, including the record hyperinflation in oil, dramatically tightening supply/demand relationships in a large number of commodities, and influence of the Beijing Olympics on demand as well as supply out of China. In the last quarter of 2008, Sun Chemical saw the reversal of the oil spike and the growing effects of the global recession.

“For 2009, Sun Chemical expects to see a gradual reversal of many of the cost impacts of 2008,” Mr. Leen said. “First, we’ll see cost reductions in the most directly oil sensitive raw materials followed by the gradual unwinding of prices for raw materials further down the value chain. High inventory levels and long supply chains also contribute to the pace of change.

“It is important to remember that the scenario of gradually reducing costs in 2009 is not without significant risks,” Mr. Leen cautioned. “There are products today like caustic soda that are still at record high levels and expected to stay that way. Additionally, raw materials suppliers are actively shuttering plants, rationalizing product lines and taking all of the many steps that companies must take in extraordinarily difficult times, but steps that could lead to interruptions or tightening supply despite the overall weakness of the global markets. Finally, the oil market continues to be highly volatile with an expectation that prices will eventually return to the very high levels of recent years due to the inability of new production to offset the gradual depletion of existing supply and the growth of demand in developing nations.”

The economic recession has had a major effect on the ink industry, and Sun Chemical felt the impact as well.

“We saw volumes fall off dramatically beginning in mid-October and that trend has continued into 2009,” Mr. Leen said. “In response, we have revisited our operating plans for this year and recast them in view of more recent volume projections. We will have to intensify our cost reduction efforts by tightening our belts even further.

The key is to continue to provide excellent service to customers.“Simultaneously, we are raising our focus on the customer,” Mr. Leen said. “Now more than ever, our customers are depending on us to help see them through this difficult time and likewise, our customer relationships are our most treasured asset. We are truly in this together and only through cooperation and collaboration can we emerge successful.”

To cope with the economic instability, Mr. Leen noted that Sun Chemical implemented major organizational changes with an eye toward becoming more global in its outlook.

“For Sun Chemical, 2008 marked a change in strategic direction highlighted by significant organizational changes,” Mr. Leen noted. “Rudi Lenz, our CEO, is driving a much more global view of our business and has made several appointments to enable that approach. The intent is to gain efficiency through greater use of our scale as the largest ink company in the world. In North America, we unified our SBU structure into one organization centered around a strengthened product management role. This structure will increase organizational effectiveness, improve customer focus and enable our quality, service and innovation strategy.”

Mr. Leen stressed that Sun Chemical will continue to maintain a focus on its core product lines while investing in new areas of opportunity.

“Our customers in our traditional print markets are depending on us for quality, service and innovation that will help them be more successful, and by doing so we believe more customers will choose Sun Chemical,” Mr. Leen said. “Additionally, Sun Chemical is investing in other growth platforms including digital inks, pigments and effects and brand protection as well as others. Overall, we have a strong pipeline of growth initiatives and remain committed to investment in these areas.”

While the duration of the recession is difficult to predict, Mr. Leen said that Sun Chemical will do all it can to move forward.

“It is difficult to predict when the economy may turn around,” Mr. Leen said. “Until then, Sun Chemical is committed to fulfilling our obligation as the leader of the industry. We will take appropriate measures to ensure that we can effectively weather the storm. At the same time, we remain committed to investing in our strategic imperatives and providing value to our customers.”

Flint Group

North American Administrative Offices
14909 Beck Road
Plymouth, MI 48170-7194
Phone: (734) 781-4600
Fax: (734) 781-4699
Sales: €2.4B ($3.5B) worldwide. North American Sales: $1 billion (Ink World estimate).

Major Products: Cold and heatset web offset, sheetfed offset, flexographic, gravure and UV/EB inks; coatings for publication, news, package and commercial applications. A wide range of inks for narrow web tag and label applications. Photopolymer plates and sleeve systems for flexographic applications; highly engineered printing blankets and sleeves for offset applications, pressroom chemicals and supplies. Dry, flushed and press cake pigments, chips and resins for ink and other applications, aqueous dispersions, hyperdispersants and additives for the colorant market.

Key Personnel: Charles Knott, chairman and CEO; Michael J. Bissell, executive VP and CFO; Dr. Dirk Aulbert, president, Packaging and Narrow Web; Dermot Healy, president, Print Media Europe; William B. Miller, president, Print Media Americas; Jim Mahony, president, Asia-Pacific; Dr. Thomas Telser, president, Flint Group Flexographic Products; Craig Foster, president, Flint Group Pigments; Jan Paul van der Velde, senior VP, procurement.

Number of Employees: Approximately 7,800 worldwide.

Comments: 2008 was a challenging year for the ink industry as a whole, and Flint Group was no exception to that rule. In order to make headway, Flint Group has taken actions on pricing and improving efficiency as well as reorganizing its operations.

“Flint Group did well under the circumstances, through implementing strict cost controls, raising prices and implementing surcharges where necessary,” said Bill Miller, president Print Media North America. “We have strived to maximize our capabilities and improve upon efficiencies to provide real tangible benefits to our customers”

“The printing industry was challenged even before the economy started to weaken,” Mr. Miller added. “Print demand is down across the board, which hurts everyone in the supply chain. Even as a large company, Flint Group has remained relatively nimble, which helps us address such challenges. We are focusing on selective growth opportunities, technology developments and delivering real value to our customers by producing high quality products and providing expert service to our customers.”

Flint Group has placed significant emphasis on leveraging the capabilities within its organization in order to create added value for customers. Taking further costs out of processes as well as working together with customers in order to help them become more cost efficient has been critical.

“Our customers run the gamut, from very small local print shops to international companies,” Doug Labertew, vice president management and distributors, said. “Every one of them has felt the economic pinch. We work with each of them to look at the big picture, and to help them find optimal solutions based on decreased print demands and smaller print budgets.”

Advancements continue to be made, despite the difficult economic climate, with Flint Group evolving and adapting as an organization to meet ever-increasing market demands. In order to improve its value proposition, Flint Group very recently realigned its product line oriented structures to move to market and customer segment oriented organizational units forming the business units Print Media North America, Print Media Europe as well as the cross-regional Packaging and Narrow Web division.

Flint Group continued to play its role in industry consolidation, announcing three acquisitions in 2008, the largest of which was the packaging inks business from Siegwerk in Australia and New Zealand.
The transition of XSYS Print Solutions to Flint Group Narrow Web, to closer position the businesses under the Flint Group umbrella, has already provided a number of significant opportunities to Flint Group in the marketplace, allowing the company to further integrate its business while delivering outstanding value.

Higher raw material prices were a critical concern during the early part of 2008, and by globalizing its procurement, Flint Group was able to leverage its purchasing more effectively.

“During the first quarter 2008, Flint Group took the decision to restructure the procurement function to move it from a regional to a global organization and therefore we moved to a position that enabled us to better leverage our purchasing power to secure supply and achieve lowest possible cost,” said Jan Paul van der Velde, senior vice president procurement. “As a result of this, we were able to mitigate part of the huge increases witnessed in 2008 – due to crude oil related pressure driven by challenges around pigments and pigment intermediates and other key raw material drivers.”

Even though the price of crude oil has dropped significantly, raw material prices have not necessarily followed suit.

“While the crude oil price, as one of the many cost drivers, has relaxed significantly in the latter part of 2008, we see that a number of crude derivatives have been resilient in their pricing,” Mr. van der Velde said. “The key challenge for the ink industry will be to be able to secure their materials going forward. Historically the ink industry has used low-end materials, which are now potential opportunities for other industries as cheaper alternatives. Other ink materials are generally such a small part of the chemical portfolio for large suppliers that they rationalize them out in the current economic environment.

“Based on what we see, we believe that the supply markets might never return to where they were in the past,” Mr. van der Velde added. “We expect raw material prices to remain extremely volatile in 2009, and we therefore believe that managing purchasing activities well today can provide greater competitive advantage then ever before.”

Meanwhile, Flint Group is striving to improve its manufacturing process to also help reduce the impact of higher raw material prices.

“We remain committed to improving our manufacturing processes whilst increasing the cost efficiency of our ink formulations through material sourcing and re-formulation,” explained Charles Knott, CEO. “Over the recent months we established well defined, short communication lines between our purchasing organization and the technical teams, ensuring that we can quickly pick up opportunities in the raw material markets without comprising quality, consistency or performance of our products.”

The effect of the current economic climate has been evident across all of the major print sectors. However, Flint Group’s Packaging and Narrow Web businesses again provided strong results while the additions to the pressroom consumable range has also provided opportunity for growth.

“Packaging continues to be an area of growth for us,” said Susan Kuchta, vice president business management packaging inks, Packaging and Narrow Web North America. “In this economy, selective growth and maintaining stability is key.”

“We are benefiting from the breadth of our portfolio. Growth in flexographic plates, printing blankets and pressroom chemicals have been important to the group,” concluded Mr. Knott.

In important personnel news, Howard Poulson announced his intention to retire from his role as non-executive chairman effective March 31, 2009. He will continue to serve the board as a non-executive director and advisor. Mr. Poulson has guided the group since the formation of XSYS in 2004, through the acquisition of Flint Ink in 2005, and then Day International in 2007. He has overseen the integration of four companies to establish Flint Group as a strong global company bringing the most complete offering of consumable items to the printing and packaging industry.

“It has been a privilege to be part of a team that has accomplished so much in the past four years, but I have now reached a point in my life where there are other things I want to do,” said Mr. Poulson. “I feel proud of the Flint Group team, which I regard as the best in the industry and which will undoubtedly take the group to further success. I thank everyone for their help and friendship and feel sure that Flint Group will continue to lead the industry for more years to come.”

Mr. Knott will succeed Mr. Poulson as chairman of the Flint Group in addition to his role as chief executive of the group.

It is also important to remember and to reflect upon the difficult periods Flint Group also endured– with Flint Group having been stunned by the sudden death of Russell Joyce, president of the Flint Group Narrow Web Division, in December 2008.

Commenting on the tragedy, Mr. Knott said, “Russell was well respected by everyone he met. His death was a great loss for all colleagues and for Flint Group”

In terms of capital investments, first quarter 2008 witnessed completion of a €10 million investment project in the publication inks production facility at s’Gravenzande in The Netherlands. This investment increased capacity and also improved the stability and flexibility of the manufacturing processes.

In addition to this, two further expansion investments totaling €13 million have also now commenced for our printing blanket facilities in Asheville, NC and Dundee, UK, to meet the growth of Flint Group’s global printing blanket business and implement new manufacturing technology which will allow the company to maintain its competitive edge.

Other notable events within the year included the acquisition of Siegwerk’s packaging ink business in Australia and New Zealand and also the acquisition of the specialist anti-set-off powder manufacturer Russell Webb.

“These acquisitions fall in line with our strategy to selectively participate in industry consolidation where it makes economic sense or to add businesses where we can selectively strengthen our product range or regional coverage,” explained Mr. Knott.

Flint Group developed a host of new products during the past year. From an ink perspective, drupa in May provided the perfect platform to launch a new range of inks for sheetfed applications designed to provide premium print quality with increased efficiency.

The new Novavit F 950 PLUS Bio and Novavit F 550 PLUS sheetfed ink ranges come with improved misting properties at high printing speeds and an excellent water/ink balance. Novavit F918 Supreme Bio inks were specially formulated for alcohol-free printing on high-speed, multi-unit sheetfed presses and specifically designed for customers who require a high quality, stable ink that is required to meet ISO 12647 every time.

Another highlight has been the launch of the sheetfed INULINE ink/varnish systems that are formulated to provide increased efficiency by allowing the printer to apply UV varnish directly inline to a conventional sheetfed offset printing ink or by delivering extremely high gloss rates with a water-based coating.

An important move forward was the recent restructuring of Flint Group in March 2009, moving from product line orientation towards a market and customer segment oriented organization, enabling Flint Group to better meet customer needs. The regionalized business units Print Media North America and Print Media Europe as well as the cross regional Packaging and Narrow Web division have been formed.

Mr. Miller has been appointed as president Flint Group Print Media North America while Dermot Healy, vice president Day International Europe, has been positioned as president Print Media Europe. Dr. Dirk Aulbert will assume global responsibility as president Flint Group Packaging and Narrow Web.

Commenting on the new strategic changes to the organization, Mr. Knott said, “We want to make doing business with us easier and more efficient for our customers.

“With the introduction of the regionalized Print Media divisions, Flint Group customers have access to the full range of products and services demanded by the Print Media market – comprising coldset inks, newspaper flexo inks, heatset inks, publication gravure inks, sheetfed inks as well as press room chemicals, printing blankets and sleeves for all offset printing processes – through a single sales contact and supported by in-depth technical support,” Mr. Knott added. “In Asia-Pacific, Flint Group will also transition over time from a country based structure to a divisional organization. As a first step, Brent Stephen, in addition to his primary responsibility as managing director Australia/New Zealand, will lead the Print Media business in Asia-Pacific as senior vice president for Print Media Asia.

“After the major acquisitions between 2004 and 2007, we focused our efforts on the physical integration of the various companies that formed Flint Group as it is today,” Mr. Knott said. “We improved our efficiency enormously, and as such, our customers benefited from it. However, to foster growth we proactively want to pick up our customers in their places by adapting our organization to fit to the markets our customers operate in. So while the reorganization was decided as a proactive step long before the economic crisis became apparent, I would consider it the right move at the right time.”

All in all, Flint Group is well prepared for whatever challenges it will face in 2009.

“Though the economic downturn will still be a significant burden, we see lots of opportunity in 2009. Our business units are working together better than ever, to better serve our customers,” said Mr. Miller. “We know 2009 will be a tough year, but we’re ready for it.”

INX International Ink Co.

150 N. Martingale Suite 700
Schaumburg, IL 60173
Phone: (630) 382-1800
Fax: (847) 969-9758
Sales: $325 million.

Major Products: A full line of ink and coatings solutions technology for packaging and commercial print applications, including metal decorating, flexographic, gravure, web offset, lamination, corrugated, sheetfed, digital and UV/EB inks and coatings.

Key Personnel: Hiroshi Ota, chairman; Rick Clendenning, president and CEO; Bryce Kristo, CFO, senior VP general affairs; Kotaro Morita, CTO, senior VP product development; George Polasik, COO, senior VP operations; Joseph Cichon, senior VP, manufacturing technology; John Hrdlick, VP field operations and distribution; Dave Waller, VP, director national accounts/rigid packaging; Jonathan Ellaby, VP, international division; Janet Beasley, VP, quality systems; Rick Westrom, VP, strategic global sourcing; Brad Kisner, Triangle Digital INX president; Ken Kisner, Triangle Digital INX SVP technology & operations.

Number of Employees: Approximately 1,150.

Operating Facilities: Approximately 26 locations and 175 in-plants throughout North America. Subsidiaries: INX International U.K., Rochdale, England; INX International France, Bretigny, France. Sister company: Triangle Digital INX, San Leandro, CA; Parent company: Sakata INX, Osaka, Japan.

Comments: For INX International Ink Company, 2008 was a year of challenges, as the company dealt with raw material instability and the economic downturn.

According to Bryce Kristo, CFO, senior vice president general affairs for INX International Ink Co., 2008 was the most unstable year INX has experienced in regards to raw material costs and demand.

“Managing this market was very difficult,” Mr. Kristo said. “Overall, INX International Ink Co. remained profitable but naturally below our expectations. We felt fortunate since it could have been worse.”

INX completed some key projects during the past year, most notably the opening of a new state-of-the-art water-based ink manufacturing facility in Homewood, a southern suburb of Chicago. A larger facility than the ones INX closed in Kalamazoo, Michigan and in nearby Elk Grove earlier this year, Homewood offers 80,000 square-feet of space. The projected capacity of inks and coatings is 90 million pounds in the first year of operation.

After some shifting at the Dunkirk, NY plant and the transfer of water production from the Mason Avenue facility in Chicago, INX International’s development of all of its water-based products will be in Homewood. The Mason Avenue plant will remain open as a solvent-only facility and will complement the company’s solvent operation in Appleton, WI.

In addition, the company expanded offset production capabilities in its West Chicago plant, and acquired two inkjet ink operations in Europe. The company’s Charlotte, NC, the world’s largest 2-piece metal decorating ink plant, facility is now certified ISO 14001 compliant.

“Some key events last year include the completion of our water-based facility in Homewood, not far from Chicago,” Mr Kristo said. “The site allowed us to consolidate several locations into this state-of-the-art facility. INX also expanded the West Chicago facility to accommodate additional offset production. This gave us the opportunity to consolidate our resource base while expanding capacity. We also extended our digital presence in Europe with the acquisitions of Megaink Digital AS and Anteprima SRL, giving us additional digital ink distribution and manufacturing capabilities.”

The economy has become a tremendous concern for virtually every ink manufacturer, and Mr. Kristo said that INX felt the downturn in demand as well.

“The downturn in demand last November and December was unprecedented and allowed for little absorption of cost, resulting in the elimination of much of the year’s earnings,” said Mr. Kristo. “Fortunately, in the fourth quarter we completed the ramp-up of our Homewood facility and other consolidation efforts that we were executing as part of our original strategy to reduce costs and improve capabilities. These actions were completed and we have managed to consolidate a number of operations without losing effectiveness. The question now is when will the demand bottom out?”

Mr. Krysto noted that raw material costs appear to be holding despite the lower cost for petroleum, and there are shifts among suppliers as companies exit the ink market.

“The relief we have seen has been modest and relevant to last summer’s spike in oil, which we did not pass on to customers entirely in price,” he added. “In addition, we see certain suppliers exiting the graphic arts industry, giving additional strength to certain companies that are much larger than the industry itself.”

Mr. Kristo said that INX International will continue to seek growth with high end technology products for both commercial and packaging inks. “Much of the business built around these products tends to be more sensitive to application effectiveness than 4-color process volume at rock bottom prices,” Mr. Kristo said. “Application effectiveness includes not only the unique requirements of a specific customer, but a general push toward eco-friendly chemistries as well.”

Overall, INX International expects more challenges in 2009, and will continue to be cautious.

“We expect 2009 will be a challenging year because of the state of the world economy,” Mr. Kristo said. “Our goal will be to concentrate on core competencies and manage the risks associated with a struggling market. Healthy companies need to be cautious as to how and with whom they choose to partner with. The lack of liquidity in the market will undoubtedly change the customer landscape. The trick will be to avoid the downside of these changes while capturing the upside over what appears to be a prolonged recession.”

Chemical Research/ Technology, Division of Quad/Graphics

1951 Constitution Ave.
Hartford, WI 53027
Phone: (262) 673-1400
Fax: (262) 673-1459
www.qg.com; www.crtink.com
Sales: $235 million (Ink World estimate).

Major Products: Offset, gravure inks and inkjet inks.

Key Personnel: Tim Hofstetter, president; Greg Laszewski, general manager – offset; Randy Maas, gravure operations manager; Sunil Rao, technical director.

Number of Employees: 103.

Operating Facilities: Lomira, WI; Oklahoma City, OK; Martinsburg, WV; Greenfield, IA; Hartford, WI.

Comments: Quad/Graphics is the largest privately held commercial printer and the third-largest printer in the U.S. From its humble beginnings in 1971, Quad/Graphics has grown to annual sales of more than $2 billion, and is the printer of choice for many of the most prominent publications.

In order to meet its heatset and gravure ink requirements, Quad/Graphics formed its Chemical Research/Technology (CR\T) division in 1982. CR\T produces more than 130 million pounds of ink annually.

Neither Quad/Graphics nor CRT was immune to the economic pressures of the past year.

“CRT was challenged by the economic meltdown similar to everyone else in the industry,” said Greg Laszewski, general manager – offset. “There was just no avoiding it. Both Quad Graphics and CRT saw reduced printing and ink production due to the downturn in the economy. Until advertising dollars return, reduced page counts and ink consumption will continue. We continue to reduce costs, improve manufacturing efficiencies and synchronize our production to match reduced demand.”

In mid-2008, CRT completed its offset expansion in Wisconsin as well as its gravure expansion in West Virginia. The new state-of-the-art facilities will allow CRT to meet increased demand, improve efficiency and reduce the impact of raw material price increases. The company switched to dry pigment dispersions for offset and manufacturing gravure bases from dry pigments as well in 2008, resulting in lower raw material costs and improved press performance. Meanwhile, offshore supply and costs of raw materials have improved so far in 2009.

“Completion of dispersion manufacturing of all four colors offset manufacturing, ink jet manufacturing for all Quad Graphics facilities, and the startup of our new gravure ink manufacturing plant in Martinsburg, WV were major highlights to 2008,” Mr. Laszewski noted.

Understandably, Mr. Laszewski said it is difficult to project what the future will bring for the ink industry.

“We expect 2009 to be very challenging,” Mr. Laszewski concluded. “This recession has caused a global economic pricing and volume reset, making predictions near impossible for the remainder of 2009 and into 2010.”

Siegwerk NAFTA

3535 SW 56th St.
Des Moines, IA 53021
Phone: (515) 471-2100 or
(800) 728-8200
Fax: (515) 471-2202
Total North American Sales: $224 million.

Major Products: Solvent-based, water-based, energy curable and specialty liquid inks and coatings and related point-of-use services for the flexible packaging, label, sheetfed, tobacco, liquid food packaging and paper and board industries using flexo, rotogravure and offset printing.

Key Personnel: Jim Ross, president U.S. & Canada; Bob Davison, VP wide web sales & service – U.S. & Canada; Terry Davis, VP wide web sales & service – U.S. & Canada; Paul Holmes, head of labels – U.S. & Canada; Dr. Lothar Schaffeler, VP of technology – U.S. & Canada; Jyoti Gidvani, raw raterial purchasing manager; Jim Stoelk, director of IT, EHS & quality; Dave Cox, director of supply chain; Javier Treviño, country manager – Mexico; Luis Orozco, country manager – Central America.

Number of Employees: 700 (U.S., Canada, Mexico and Central America).

Operating Facilities: Des Moines, IA – NAFTA headquarters and two manufacturing locations; Spartanburg, SC; Neenah, WI; Drums, PA; New Hope, MN; Vacaville, CA; Prescott, Ontario, Canada; Oakville, Ontario, Canada; Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Toluca, Mexico; Guadalajara, Mexico; Queretaro, Mexico; Guatemala City, Guatemala; San Salvador, El Salvador.

Comments: While Siegwerk NAFTA, Siegwerk’s North American subsidiary, enjoyed growth in 2008, raw material prices impacted the company’s profitability.

“Siegwerk NAFTA was able to grow sales slightly; however, raw material price increases made a large impact in Siegwerk’s profitability over 2008,” said Bob Davison, vice president wide web sales and service – U.S. and Canada. “Through cost reduction initiatives, Siegwerk has been able to maintain its quality product and high level of service.”

The economy is dramatically impacting the ink industry, and Mr. Davison said that Siegwerk is dealing with the global recession like many other companies across all industries in that it is watching all costs and being creative in ways to reduce expenses throughout the organization.

“No company is impervious to a global recession,” Mr. Davison said. “The food packaging market has seen a stall to slight downturn; however has not seen the drastic decline that other markets have including housing and automotive. The development of the publication market is still characterized by the decrease of advertising.

“Siegwerk U.S. & Canada are looking at regions where there is an infrastructure already established and in markets where Siegwerk has a commercial product to offer,” Mr. Davison added. “Growth for all suppliers will be difficult in a year when many customers and their customers are watching costs.”

There were a number of key highlights for Siegwerk NAFTA, beginning with Siegwerk U.S. & Canada’s organizational changes within its top management. Daniel McDowell, the former president of Siegwerk NAFTA, took a position in Siegburg, Germany as member of the Siegwerk Board of management responsible for global purchasing, global supply chain management development and information technology.

Jim Ross, former head of flexible packaging for U.S. & Canada, has stepped into the role of president for U.S. & Canada. With these changes, Siegwerk U.S. and Canada were able to cross-utilize resources and streamline its organizational makeup.

Mr. Davison said that in light of the economic turmoil, working closely with customers is even more essential.

“The general U.S. and Canada markets call for the market to remain stable in most of the packaging sectors,” Mr. Davison said. “Hopefully by the end of this year, the economy will begin to rebound and investing will begin to occur again.

“Siegwerk continues to respond to the needs of its customers in a timely and efficient manner,” Mr. Davison added. “Siegwerk continues to do what it does best by servicing the customer to the best of its abilities. In these times more than ever, the partnership between customer and supplier is important. Siegwerk works with customer ink room operations to make process improvements as well as remaining technically competitive.”


Hostmann-Steinberg Limited

12 Shaftsbury Lane
Brampton, Ontario Canada L6T 3X7
Phone: (905) 793-9970
Fax: (905) 793-5368

Hostmann-Steinberg, Inc. USA

2850 Festival Dr.
Kankakee, IL 60901
Phone: (815) 929-9293
Fax: (815) 929-0412
Sales: $170 million.

Major Products: Heatset, sheetfed, coldset, UV and EB, forms and flexo Inks; aqueous and UV coatings.

Key Personnel: Winfried Gleue, president and CEO, Canada; Vivy DaCosta, VP, Canada; Mark Wilson, sales director, Canada; Dr. Thomas Griebel, technical director, Canada; Michael Geiger, CFO, USA; Debu Sengupta, CTO, USA.

Number of Employees: 340.

Operational Facilities: Main plants in Kankakee, IL and Toronto, Canada, and 17 branch facilities coast to coast.

Comments: Hostmann-Steinberg has aligned itself with the present economic environment in order to be an even stronger and more dependable supplier to the North American printing industry. Restructuring is taking place to make the management more responsive to the market needs, and new members have joined the management team in Canada as well as in the U.S.

With raw material and operational costs skyrocketing during 2008, it is a difficult time for printers, suppliers and ink manufacturers alike. Michael Geiger, chief financial officer for Hostmann-Steinberg, Inc. USA, noted that Hostmann-Steinberg has started a huge cost saving project in order to bring down the costs in all areas. In 2008, Hostmann-Steinberg passed on price increases to their customers. Despite the economic downturn, the company has invested capital in order to reduce production costs and to increase quality, especially in the coldset business.

The company continues to maintain a well-rounded product portfolio for publication, commercial and packaging printing.

“Research and development is the strength of the company, and the market can expect many more improved products in the future,” said Debu Sengupta, chief technical officer for Hostmann-Steinberg, Inc. USA

One key innovation in the field of sheetfed offset inks is the new !NKREDIBLE generation of printing inks, the result of the reverse integration in pigments and resins that became possible upon the group’s acquisition of Micro Inks. The intensive exchange of know-how and high level of cooperation practiced between the group’s chemical and process engineers all around the world, together with innovative ideas on raw material synthesis and on ink formulation, has led to the development of a generation of inks that more than lives up to the constantly increasing demands for quality in the printing industry and the sophisticated production processes on today’s high-speed presses.

The six ink series of the !NKREDIBLE generation – RESISTA, RAPIDA, REFLECTA, IMPRESSION, SURPRIZE and PERFEXION – are each formulated to offer different degrees of fastness properties, and offer the ideal product for every type of application.

The heatset ink series REVOLUTION, which is also based on the new !NKREDIBLE technology, sets standards in respect of speed and productivity and stands out thanks to its great stability in the production run and excellent drying characteristics.

To satisfy the exacting demands of contemporary newspaper printing, the hubergroup offers the new coldset ink system !NKREDIBLE GOOD NEWS, the personalized ink for newspaper printing houses. It gives newspaper printers a range of inks that is precisely customized to their own press configuration – printing ink, consulting and fount concentrate from a single source, perfectly tailored to their particular needs and compliant with all the demands of IFRA/ISO Standard 11647-3.

The hubergroup portfolio is rounded off by a new product series for the UV process, which will be marketed under the name NewV.

ACRYLAC, the water-based coating system for all sheetfed offset applications, has been re-engineered. The upgraded ACRYLAC range stands out due to its very good gloss and protective properties as well as its excellent printability. Particular mention should also be made of the fact that the hubergroup is providing, for all products and printing processes, a complete system, including the inks, auxiliaries and fount concentrates – plus service and support – as a single-source supplier

“Given the depth of technical know-how available around the globe and locally paired with our strong service orientation, we are a strong player in the printing ink market in North America,” said Thomas Hensel, NAFTA head of the hubergroup Holding Company MHM Holding GmbH, located in Munich/ Germany.

DuPont Digital Printing

Barley Mill Plaza, P30/2367
P.O. Box 80030
Wilmington, DE 19880-0030
Phone: (877) 234-1794;
(302) 992-4264
Fax: (302) 892-5609
Sales: $150 million (Ink World estimate)

Major Products: Digital inks and digital printing systems; conductive inks and pastes for printed electronics.

Key Personnel: Frank Dotterer, global business manager – Digital Printing Systems; Michael Moore, global business manager, industrial inks; Michael Lazzara, global business manager – DuPont Artistri; Marco Torri, global sales manager for DuPont Digital Printing; Anthony Low, regional sales manager, DuPont Digital Printing – Asia Pacific; Scott Gordon, printed electronics segment manager – DuPont Microcircuit Materials; Craig Oliver – European business manager, DuPont Microcircuit Materials.

Number of Employees: More than 300 worldwide.

Key Locations: Worldwide operations; in the U.S., R&D facilities in Wilmington, DE and Philadelphia, PA; manufacturing plants in Iowa, New York and Pennsylvania. Customer service and warehousing in Asia, Europe and North America.

Comments: DuPont is noted for its innovative products, and in the ink market, the company has staked out leading positions in the digital field as well as the rapidly emerging area of printed electronics.

On the inkjet side, DuPont Digital Printing is the leading digital ink manufacturer worldwide for desktop printers, supplying many of the leading home printer OEMs. The company also has a strong position in textile ink jet printing markets, where the company developed its DuPont Artistri product portfolio, a fully integrated, production capable digital printing system complete with equipment, software and ink. The inks come in pigment, acid dye, disperse dye or reactive dye.

The DuPont Artistri systems are utilized for a variety of applications, including printed textiles, accessories, apparel, home furnishings, gaming table covers, flags and banners, soft signage and trade show displays. The company uses a worldwide distributor network.

At drupa 2008, DuPont Digital Printing announced the availability of the next generation of DuPont Artistri P5000 Color Inks for direct-to-garment digital printing,

“DuPont Digital Printing is committed to continually develop and provide enhanced, high-quality digital textile printing products to our customers,” said Michael Lazzara, global business manager – DuPont Artistri. “This next generation of P5000 Series color inks will provide enhanced wash and substrate performance as well as improved printing and end-use properties over a wider range of substrates, including non-cotton fabrics.”

The company also announced the addition of a new reactive dye ink set to their portfolio of Artistri digital textile inks at drupa 2008. Artistri R500 series reactive dye ink is specifically designed for use in low viscosity, piezo-electric printheads and is suitable for high-quality, short to medium production runs on rayon and cotton fabrics.

Reggiani Macchine S.p.A., a world-wide leading developer, manufacturer and service provider of machines for textile printing, approved DuPont Artistri P2100 series pigment inks for use with the Reggiani DReAM brand digital textile printing system.

DuPont has made major inroads in conductive inks. DuPont Microcircuit Materials (MCM), part of DuPont Electronic Technologies, announced the introduction of a new silver conductive ink formulated for use in printed electronics. DuPont 5064 silver conductive ink is a polymer thick film technology developed with a combination of silver powder and resin that provides superior conductivity, cost-effectively. It also allows for single pass printing, which improves productivity.

“DuPont MCM is uniquely positioned to help its customers succeed in the growing field of printed electronics, and this new development is an excellent example of how we’ve put our science to work to make that happen,” said Scott Gordon, printed electronics segment manager – DuPont Microcircuit Materials.

DuPont Microcircuit Materials has announced it recently doubled production capacity and made key quality improvements at its European Electronic Materials manufacturing facility in Bristol, UK. Driven by anticipated long-term growth in the photovoltaic (PV) solar energy industry, DuPont MCM predicts a significant increase in demand for DuPont Solamet thick film metallization pastes, and expects that this demand will multiply over the next five years.

"DuPont Solamet thick film metallization pastes enable solar cell manufacturers to significantly reduce their cost per watt by achieving higher cell efficiencies, higher production yields and more efficient use of materials," said Craig Oliver – European business manager, DuPont Microcircuit Materials. “We undertook this expansion project to support the fast-growing photovoltaic market in Europe. We expect the growth trend to continue in PV, enabled by Solamet and other materials from DuPont Photovoltaic Solutions (DPVS).”

Wikoff Color Corporation

1886 Merritt Road
Fort Mill, SC 29715
Phone: (803) 548-2210
Fax: (803) 548-5728
Sales: $150 million (Ink World estimate).

Major Products: Sheetfed and web offset inks, solvent-based and water-based flexo and gravure inks, energy-curable inks and coatings, security inks, overprint varnish and aqueous coatings.

Key Personnel: Phil Lambert, CEO; Geoff Peters, president and COO; Daryl Collins, VP of national sales and regional operations; Martin Hambrock, VP of Canadian operations; Don Duncan, director of R&D; Ben Price, director of purchasing; Art Dennis, director of manufacturing; Buck Rorie, VP of finance and administration.

Number of Employees: 580.

Operating Facilities: 30 manufacturing plants in the U.S. and Canada. Headquarters and research and development facilities are located in Fort Mill, SC.

Comments: For Wikoff Color as well as the rest of the ink industry, 2008 was a year loaded with challenges, from raw material costs to the economy.

“Our 2008 sales started out well, but the bottom fell out in November, December and so far into 2009,” said Wikoff Color CEO Phil Lambert. “It has been a crazy period for us, following a record sales month for our company in October.”

Raw material prices are one of the biggest challenges Wikoff Color is facing. Mr. Lambert noted that raw material prices rose more than 10 percent in the past year before beginning to decline at the end of the year. That has led to two problems. First, it has been difficult to pass along these increases quickly enough, especially considering the state of the printing industry. Second, while oil prices were used to justify increases in raw materials, Wikoff Color has not seen a proportionate reduction in prices for raw materials for inks now that oil prices have declined so dramatically.

“We have not been able to pass along all of our raw material price increases, with our customers struggling with such challenging economic conditions” Mr. Lambert said. “Now that some raw material prices are starting to decline, many customers are looking for price reductions which we cannot afford to give.”

Margins suffered in 2008 due to the higher raw material prices. “Sales held up well through October, but our profit declined throughout the year due to the high percentage cost increases we experienced,” Mr. Lambert said. “Profits were declining even before sales declined so significantly, and raw material prices have not come back to where they were a year or two ago. We need more relief from these higher raw material prices.”

To cope with these difficult economic times, Wikoff Color is working on improving efficiency.

“We are looking at belt-tightening in all areas of our business, but have avoided across-the-board layoffs,” said Geoff Peters, the president of Wikoff Color. “We are undergoing major Lean initiatives at our three largest operations to improve layout and flow.”

There has been some good news for Wikoff Color. The company recently began selling ink in China, and that business is growing. Meanwhile, Mr. Peters noted that there are segments holding up well, such as lottery tickets and food packaging, including flexible packaging, folding carton and label.

Mr. Peters said that Wikoff Color successfully introduced some new products this year.

“We are putting more emphasis on developing and introducing products with higher plant-based renewable content, and we are having good success with new specialty coatings,” Mr. Peters said.

There is clearly a level of uncertainty as to what 2009 has in store for the ink and printing industries.

“For 2009, we are hopeful it won’t get worse than it is right now and the economy will start improving by the latter part of the year; but we are fearful it could get worse before it gets better,” Mr. Lambert said. “Now is not a time for panic, but a healthy level of fear is only normal. Being an employee-owned company gives us an advantage as we strive to calmly face the challenges of these unusual economic times. Our employee-owners have demonstrated over the years a commitment to working harder and smarter to make our company successful, and we understand that these times especially require pulling together to increase efficiencies and drive down costs.”

Sanchez SA de CV

Oriente 171 # 367
México City, Mexico
Phone: +52 55 5118 1000
Fax: +52 55 5118 1090
E-mail: er.sanchez@sanchez.com.mx
Sales: $134.2 million (inks); $177.0 million overall.

Major Products: Offset, flexo, gravure and screen inks and overprint varnishes; offset plates, pressroom chemicals and offset presses.

Key Personnel: Ernesto J. Sanchez, managing director; Jose Sanchez, commercial director (paste inks); Miguel Talamantes, commercial director (liquid inks); Jesus McKelligan, operations director; Salvador Duran, technical manager (paste inks); Agustin Lozano, technical manager (liquid inks).

Number of Employees: 1,100.

Comments: The leading printing ink manufacturers in Mexico, Sanchez SA de CV has continued to enjoy strong growth in 2008.

“I believe we did quite well last year, with sales increase over the previous year of 13 percent in kilos of ink, and 17.5 percent increase in value in materials and equipment sales,” said Ernesto J. Sanchez, managing director of Sanchez SA de CV. Mr. Sanchez noted that the company enjoyed particularly good growth in packaging inks, which will be more resistant to downturns in the environment.

In September 2007, Sanchez SA de CV acquired Mexico City-based offset Prodaplag SA and its sister company, Barnimex SA. Mr. Sanchez said that integrating both companies went very well indeed.

“A lot of energy was placed into the integration of Prodaplag last year,” Mr. Sanchez said. “By December, the integration of the company was completed. The results were very satisfactory, because we managed to keep all the Prodaplag customers, supplying them with the same products they were buying before, but internally there is only one company now.”

Raw material prices are beginning to come down, which will help the ink industry.

“In terms of raw material prices, we are seeing a decline, which we hope will continue due to the decrease in the demand for these products,” Mr. Sanchez noted.

In spite of its continued growth, Sanchez SA de CV felt the impact of the global economic slump, and is taking steps to prepare for further problems.

“We started to perceive the impact of the crisis only in the last three months of last year, so for us the big issue will be in 2009,” Mr. Sanchez said. “We are cutting some of our expenses and trying to be more efficient. This year for sure will be challenging. We still don’t know how deep the crisis will affect Mexico and us, but we feel ready for the challenge.”

EFI, Inc.

303 Velocity Way
Foster City, CA 94404
Phone: (650) 357-3500
Fax: (650) 357-3907
Sales: ~$561M for EFI at the corporate level; $220M for the inkjet divisions; Ink World estimates $75 million in ink and consumables.

Major Products: Through its VUTEk, Jetrion and Rastek product lines, EFI is the market leader in inkjet inks and printing systems for the superwide, (e.g., billboards, signage, POP, etc.), wide format UV, label, packaging, direct mail and commercial printing markets. EFI offers a wide range of ink products for the superwide format and industrial inkjet markets, including UV-based, solvent, and eco/bio-solvent inks.

Key Personnel: Guy Gecht, CEO; Fred Rosenzweig, president; John Ritchie, CFO; Ken Stack, SVP/GM Jetrion Industrial Inkjet Systems; Rak Kumar VP/GM Rastek Printers; Scott Schinlever, VP/GM EFI Ink Business.

Number of Employees: Approximately 1,900.

Operating Facilities: 23 worldwide offices.

Comments: Digital printing has enjoyed tremendous growth in recent years, and is certain to continue to expand its share in the marketplace. With leading brands such as VUTEk, Jetrion and Rastek as well as its industry-standard workflow solutions, EFI, Inc. is well positioned to be at the forefront of the digital revolution, particularly with its emphasis on UV inkjet solutions.

Despite the economic turmoil of the past year, EFI continued to enjoy growth in the inkjet market. EFI’s ink business also made gains as well, although the latter part of the year saw even the digital printing business slow down.

“For our ink business, 2008 was actually good for EFI, although it felt like two different years,” said Scott Schinlever, vice president/general manager, EFI Ink Business. “We enjoyed double-digit growth for the first three quarters of 2008, but the economy overwhelmed our growth in the fourth quarter. Our VUTEk business drove most of our growth, with our hybrid flatbed business doing well and our roll-to-roll UV space coming on strong, along with our Jetrion business with the introduction of the Jetrion 4000 digital label printing press.

“From our customers’ perspective, we saw a general decline in volume, driven by the terrible fourth quarter retail market,” he added. “While we are seeing little glimpses of hope, the banking crisis has made it difficult for people to buy a major piece of equipment. There is also a crisis in confidence, as people are being more cautious. Still, many of our customers are very busy, as there is some consolidation by print buyers to what they perceive as stable print providers.”

UV is a critical part of EFI’s product offerings, and is becoming a dominant technology in the inkjet segments that EFI serves.

“UV has hit the mass acceptance stage in our markets,” Mr. Schinlever said. “UV has minimal VOCs, can be printed on a wide range of rigid and roll-to-roll media, and has hidden workflow advantages due to its instant drying compared to solvent-based inkjet, which needs time to evaporate. UV output can be rolled up and shipped immediately, which saves on floor space and time. We’re doing very well in Europe, where the transition to UV from solvent is taking place, as well as in North America.”

Through strong management, EFI has put itself in the enviable position of being able to make strategic investments into key technologies.

“EFI acquired Raster Printers, which gets us firmly positioned under the Rastek brand in the UV flatbed space for the smaller printing establishments, which is a real growth opportunity,” Mr. Schinlever said. “We can certainly avail ourselves of opportunities. We’re in a rough economy, but are well positioned for the long run.”

Having a wide range of ink expertise from its various businesses, Mr. Schinlever noted that EFI consolidated the ink operations to better coordinate its ink R&D and manufacturing.

“We have consolidated the different ink businesses we have acquired over time into one team because whether it is for labels or wide format printing, there is a common base of ink technology and expertise to leverage,” he said.

EFI’s growth in printing is driven by its continuous development of new products, and a major highlight was its introduction of a wide range of new digital printers, showcased at drupa 2008 and other shows.

“On the VUTEk side, in addition to our continued success with the QS hybrid flatbed printer, our QSr roll-to-roll was a highlight,” Mr. Schinlever said. “We took extra time to develop it in order to have highest print quality and high speeds. Our DS products targets the medium and long-run markets due to speed. It is a screen print replacement offering, and comes out later this year. We also announced the Vutek GS 3200, our latest UV hybrid flatbed offering along with the GS5000, a 5-meter roll-to-roll UV printer.

“We are well positioned for the future,” Mr. Schinlever said. “On the label side, we did a full launch of the Jetrion 4000 digital press. The label market feels like where the UV flatbed market was in 2001, when it was starting to hit the early mass adoption phase. The Jetrion 4000 has the best combination of high print quality and high speed, making it an ideal alternative to flexo.

“For the Rastek product line, we are seeing much success with the H700, which offers the best image quality in its class at an affordable price. The product pipeline across the Vutek, Jetrion and Rastek businesses is robust, and will result in more introductions in 2009.”

“EFI has always been focused on driving the digital transition, and there are plenty of opportunities for us to invest and develop new products,” Mr. Schinlever concluded. “We also see further integration of EFI RIPs and workflow offerings into EFI’’s inkjet offerings, as we can provide customers with top-of-the-line workflow, equipment and ink solutions. It’s a unique advantage for us.”

FUJIFILM Sericol USA, Inc.

1101 W. Cambridge Circle Drive
Kansas City, KS 66103
Phone: (913) 342-4060
Fax: (913) 342-4752
U.S. Sales: $75 million (Ink World Estimate).

Major Products: UV screen, UV flexo, UV digital (piezo inkjet), solvent-based digital and solvent-based screen inks; screen pre-press; Inca Digital Printers and Fujifilm Digital Printers.

Key Personnel: Ed Carhart, CEO of Sericol International; Mitch Bode, senior vice president; Chris Lomas, vice president of sales; Steve Pocock, technical director; Terry Mitchell, director of marketing.

Number of Employees: 205.

Operating Facilities: Nine.

Comments: Wide format display graphics make up a large part of Fujifilm Sericol’s business in North America and print buyers in this market segment are demanding higher quality prints, faster turnaround of targeted campaigns and lower cost. Digital technology meets these demands, and as a result, Fujifilm Sericol’s digital equipment and digital ink business recorded significant growth in 2008 while the traditional analog segments experienced a modest decline.

“We were on pace to record increases in many segments of our business through October, however the balance of the year weakened considerably due to the economic downturn,” commented Mitch Bode, senior vice president of Fujifilm Sericol’s business in the Americas.

Fujifilm is at the forefront of the evolution of digital, and demonstrated that leadership with the introduction of the Inca Onset in 2007. The Onset is a true breakthrough in wide format digital printing, capable of producing 150 full bed prints per hour. The first North American installation of an Inca Onset occurred in February 2008. Now with four installations in North America and 11 worldwide, the Onset is revolutionizing the transition from analog screen printing to digital, especially for print runs up to 500 pieces.

Despite this trend, there are still many multi-color inline screen presses in use in North America today producing thousands, if not millions, of square feet of graphic displays.

“We fully expect that screen printing will continue for the foreseeable future, and our legacy of providing screen printing solutions in conjunction with innovative digital solutions gives us the edge in serving this market,” commented Mr. Bode.

In August 2008, an Onset was installed at the new Solutions Center at Fujifilm Sericol’s North American headquarters in Kansas City. Since then, screen, digital and large format offset printers have come to Kansas City for demonstrations of Onset’s breakthrough speed and productivity. Customers were able to run the Inca Onset at production speed and watch as the Onset produced their images at speeds never before seen on a digital flatbed printer.

While Onset is the fastest and most productive press in the Fujifilm Sericol Solutions Center, it is just one of many digital solutions offered by the company. The new higher speed Inca Spyder V and higher speed Fujifilm Acuity Advance with white are also installed at the Solutions Center. Customers who visit the Solutions Center have the opportunity to actually run the equipment so they can decide which wide format digital printer offers the right performance value for their needs and budget.

Not one to stand still, Fujifilm and Inca Digital recently announced the launch of the Onset S20, the latest addition to the Onset series of printers. The new printer builds on the technology of the Inca Onset and is aimed at customers who like the features of the Onset but who sell less output and want a lower price point. The first shipments of the Onset S20 will begin in May 2009.

In addition to the Solutions Center showcasing inkjet equipment, Fujifilm Sericol made significant investments in manufacturing and distribution facilities in 2008. A new North American Distribution Center opened in April 2008, and manufacturing was expanded with a state-of-the-art digital ink production unit in June.

“These investments have improved our ability to control our costs and expanded our capacity to continue to grow our market share in both solvent and UV digital inks,” stated Terry Mitchell, director of marketing.

The recent downturn in the economy has impacted both Fujifilm Sericol and many of its customers. Lower demand in automotive and graphic overlay segments as well as significant declines in optical media disc decoration has led to lower demand for screen printing inks and supplies. Digital print volume continues to grow; however, the growth rate has declined due to lower demand for print campaigns.
Many printers have consolidated manufacturing facilities as well as reduced employees to realign costs with this lower demand, but remain optimistic about a rebound in the economy stimulating demand.

Due to significant increases in the cost of crude oil during 2008, and the resultant impact on raw material and transportation costs, Fujifilm Sericol increased prices in North America in August 2008. The increases affected all product technologies including UV-, water- and solvent-based inks.

“Although crude oil prices have declined significantly, consolidation of suppliers and rationalization of production facilities have not resulted in declines in raw materials prices,” stated Scott Holub, vice president of operations. “We continue to work on productivity improvements in manufacturing and logistics systems in addition to raw materials in order to manage our costs and stay competitive.”

“Our growth forecast for 2009 is tempered by the reality of current economic conditions, although generally speaking, we expect digital to continue to grow,” commented Ed Carhart, CEO of Fujifilm Sericol’s global business. “We know that any growth in screen printing will only come from gains in market share, so we are keenly focused on bringing innovative products and services to our core customers to help them in the transition from screen to digital. Fujifilm Sericol is uniquely positioned to bring both screen and digital solutions to a number of end-use markets, and we plan to leverage our strengths to expand our market share in 2009 and beyond.”

Central Ink Corporation

1100 N. Harvester Road
West Chicago, IL 60185
Phone: (630) 231-6500
Fax: (630) 231-6520
Sales: $70 million.

Major Products: Web offset heatset, coldset, sheetfed and UV/EB inks. CIC is also one of the largest blanket converters in the Midwest.

Key Personnel: Richard Breen, CEO; Gregg Dahleen, president; Doug Anderson, VP of operations; Mary Dickey, CFO; Bradley Dahleen, VP of sales.

Number of Employees: 131.

Operating Facilities: West Chicago, IL; Minneapolis, MN; Milwaukee, WI; Swedesboro, NJ; Ontario, CA; Toronto, Canada.

Comments: In times as challenging as these, companies that have managed to run lean and operate with little or no debt are best positioned to weather the economic storm.

Such is the case with Central Ink Corporation (CIC). In 2008, the company’s core heatset, news and sheetfed markets faced difficult times, and as a result, Central Ink’s sales were off 7 percent. Still, the company is poised to ride out the difficult times ahead.

“Between the economy and raw material prices, 2008 was a year we would like to forget,” said Gregg Dahleen, president of CIC. “We have been forced to become leaner, and even though our sales were off 7 percent, we are doing $70 million in sales with 131 people. Meanwhile, we have zero debt, which gives us some flexibility in case some opportunities arise.”

“It forced us to make decisions on facilities and personnel that makes us more efficient,” added Bradley Dahleen, CIC’s vice president of sales. “Volumes were down, but we actually had a nice November and December. We hope that 2009 will be better, but there looks like there will be all new challenges as well.”

The concerns over the publication and commercial markets are real, and Gregg Dahleen said that CIC is diversifying into new markets and niches are a key to its future success.

“We all need to understand that our industry is not growing anymore,” Gregg Dahleen said. “There is no new printing happening in North America, so it is about positioning. News ink has been great for us in terms of diversity, but there are many newspapers that are no longer financially stable. We’re seeing a lot of shrinkage, plant closings and cutting shifts across the various applications, whether it’s news, sheetfed or heatset. There is definitely a drop in print in all markets we serve, including magazines, catalogs, newspapers and direct mail.

“We want to look at further diversification to capitalize on some of our current customers’ needs,” Gregg Dahleen added. “If we continue to diversify we will continue to be strong.”

Gregg Dahleen said that CIC’s largest concern is managing cash flow.

“It looks like raw material prices will remain stable, and we are positioned well enough for 2009 as long as we can get paid,” he added. “Our suppliers are tightening our terms and customers want longer terms, and managing cash flow is going to be critical.”

In terms of capital improvements, Central Ink shut down its Las Vegas, NV facility and took over Rieger Inks’ Ontario, CA plant.

“We needed a West Coast facility, and that puts us closer to our customer base,” Gregg Dahleen said. “We also picked up most of the client base that they had left out there.”

All in all, Gregg Dahleen sees some strong possibilities in 2009. “After our reductions and realignments of 2008, we can weather whatever comes at us,” he said. “With our core business, we anticipate a sales drop in 2009, but with the plans and preparations we have put into place in the past year, we could still have a very solid year. There could be some exciting things for us.”

Toyo Ink International Corporation

610 Fifth Ave., Suite 305
New York, NY 10020
Phone: (212) 554-2310
Fax: (212) 554-2319

Toyo Ink America, LLC

710 Belden Ave.
Addison, IL 60101
Phone: (630) 930-5100
Fax: (630) 628-1759
Sales: $70 million.

Major Products: Sheetfed and web offset inks; UV and EB inks; conventional and UV waterless offset; solvent- and water-based gravure inks; solvent- and water-based flexo inks; digital inks; toner; inkjet inks; pressure sensitive adhesives and special function coatings; and plastic colorants.

Key Personnel: Toyo Ink International: Fusao Ito, president; John Higgins, CFO. Toyo Ink America: John Copeland, president/COO; James F. MacNeill, VP, CFO; Hidekazu Takahashi, SVP; Mike Keegan, VP, sales; Sumathy Ganesh, technical manager. Toyo Ink Mfg. America: Fusao Ito, president; Koji Ueno, GM. LioChem: Yasuo Koga, president; Hudson Moody, GM, colorants division; Terry Hall, GM, gravure division.

Comments: In spite of the economic downturn, Toyo Ink America (TIA) is in relatively good shape heading into 2009.

“Toyo Ink America, despite a lukewarm year, was able to come away in 2008 in relatively good form,” said John Copeland, president and COO of Toyo Ink America. “We’ve continued to add new accounts as printers seek out products that deliver the best performance for the buck. In particular, UV sales and our sheetfed business continue to grow.”

With the economy impacting the printing industry, ink companies are working to help their customers while also becoming more efficient. Mr. Copeland said that in these highly competitive times, Toyo Ink is constantly trying to find new ways to deliver value.

“Customers want more for their money, and we’re constantly being asked, ‘What can you do for us?’ We find ourselves working even closer with our customers in helping them maximize efficiencies and develop products that provide better mileage,” Mr. Copeland said. “As for Toyo Ink America, we’ve also turned the company inside out. From cost-cutting initiatives, purchasing rationalization to employee efficiency training, we’ve had to rethink how we do just about everything around here.”

In October 2008, Toyo Ink Manufacturing America held the grand opening of its new 55,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Bryan, TX. The products to be manufactured at the new $20 million facility are specialty polymers and related products, such as packaging inks, adhesives and coatings.

“The grand opening of a new manufacturing site in Bryan, Texas was certainly a bright spot for the Toyo Ink Group in 2008,” Mr. Copeland said. “The Texas plant will play an important role in the U.S. operations as we work to further expand our position in the U.S. packaging inks and specialty adhesives sectors.”

Graph Expo 2008 was also a good opportunity for Toyo Ink. “Toyo Ink America had a good showing at Graph Expo 2008 with record booth attendance and a strong interest in our UV inks, including the UV Kaleido series of wide-gamut inks, high-performance sheetfed and environmentally friendly product lines,” Mr. Copeland reported. “The show generated many new business contacts for us.”

Toyo Ink America enjoyed excellent growth in UV, and launched numerous new products at drupa 2008, including the FD LED series.

“Toyo Ink America experienced double-digit growth in UV ink sales for both paper and plastic applications,” Mr. Copeland said. “Toyo’s UV inks and coatings deliver high consistency, high performance, drying capability and print quality, resulting in a rapid return on investment. We also saw high demand for our environmentally friendly products, such as our non-VOC HyPlus 100 series and other vegetable oil-based process inks. Interest is rising among printers who want to reap green benefits. Toyo Ink America launched the UV series of our popular Kaleido series of wide-gamut inks to the North America market last spring. We also invested in new equipment to expand our ink production capability.

“Toyo Ink also debuted the FD LED series of LED-UV curable offset inks at drupa 2008, which generated much buzz at the show,” Mr. Copeland added. “Compared to conventional UV lamps, the FD LED series not only achieves the same level of ink performance, but LED curable systems consume 75 percent less electricity and has a lifespan about 12 times as long. It is truly the wave of the future.”

Mr. Copeland said that 2009 is looking to be a challenging year, adding, “We are optimistic in our plan to increase sales as we continue to work closely with customers, old and new alike, to develop and deliver the value-added products they want and services they appreciate.”

Van Son Holland Ink
Corporation of America

185 Oval Dr.
Islandia, NY 11501
Phone: (631) 715-7000
Fax: (631) 715-7020
Sales: $70 million.

Major Products: Conventional offset, waterless offset and duplicator inks.

Key Personnel: Joe Bendowski, president and CEO; Ken Ferguson, technical director; John Sammis, VP, sales and marketing; John Bendowski, national sales manager.

Number of Employees: 100.

Operating Facilities: Headquarters and manufacturing in Islandia, NY, and a central distribution center in Chicago.

Comments: Van Son Holland Ink enjoyed strong sales growth in 2008, buoyed by its continued transition from the small-sized commercial offset market to mid- and large-sized sheetfed segment.
“2008 was a good year for Van Son,” said Joe Bendowski, president and CEO of Van Son Holland Ink.

“The mid-to large-sheetfed market holds a great deal of potential for us and we continue to make gains in that side of the business. The mid- to large-market sheetfed segment is the thrust of most of our efforts today, as the small-market segment continues its decline. We’re all printers at home now.”

For Van Son Holland Ink, the key to the mid- and large-market sheetfed business was the introduction of the Vs Series inks and the alliance with a select group of regional small ink manufacturers and national distributors located across North America. Van Son provides the production and marketing of the Vs inks, while these companies successfully sell and service the inks.

“Our business model is unique, and we continue to operate as we have for the past 50 years,” Mr. Bendowski said. “We don't sell directly to printers. We use a distribution model, and don't have the infrastructure to run a direct sales operation. We partner with smaller ink manufacturers who sell and service our Vs line of products, and now we’ve expanded it to select distributors on an exclusive basis.”

The Vs line continues to expand, as Van Son introduced its Vs4 waterless ink, and will soon launch Vs Zero, a no-VOC ink. Outside of the Vs Series, Van Son is developing new UV inks.

“Vs Zero is a ‘green’ ink which our customers are asking us for,” Mr. Bendowski said. “We are also expanding our Sonacure line of UV process and Pantone inks, and we are starting to make gains in the market.”

The company is making some capital improvements, including adding a mixing center and warehouse in the southeastern U.S., and Van Son has invested in facilities in Korea and China.

Despite its growth, Van Son Holland Ink is feeling the effects of higher raw material prices and the economy.

“The economy is not impacting our top-line sales, but it is affecting our bottom line, whether it is freight, cardboard, heat, or travel,” Mr. Bendowski said. “Petrochemical products aren’t such a big piece for us, but pigments are still a factor when it comes to pricing.”

All in all, Mr. Bendowski is optimistic about the coming year.

“We are actually optimistic about this year,” Mr. Bendowski concluded. “In the past year, we have never had a month that was less in sales than the previous month, and we continue to be optimistic for 2009. “


8501 Hedge Lane Road
Shawnee, KS 66227-3290
Phone: (913) 422-1888
Fax: (913) 422-2296
Sales: $65 million (and more than $100 million in ink sales, equipment and supplies, estimated).

Major Products: Screen printing inks including conventional, UV and water-based, and digital inks.

Key Personnel: J. Jeffrey Thrall, CEO; Mike Fox, president; Richard Bowles, VP and GM; Phil McGugan, VP, global sales and marketing; Mike McGowan, VP and technical director; Jim Davidson, VP, global operations.

Operating Facilities: Five in the U.S., UK, and Canada.

Comments: At first glance, 2008 would seem to be a year of little growth for Nazdar, but in reality, the company saw new opportunities in both its digital side as well as in the global market that positions itself well for the coming years.

“We were basically flat in 2008, and in the scheme of things, that wasn’t bad,” said Phil McGugan, vice president, global sales and marketing for Nazdar. “We were doing pretty well until the fourth quarter, when demand began to soften. Our customers tell us things are tough, and the industrial sector is faring better than the display market. For us, 2009 has started slow, and people are being cagier about their cash and inventory.”

One area of strong growth for Nazdar was its digital business, which nicely supplements its screen activities.

“We have had continuous progress on our digital ink sales since our acquisition of Lyson,” Mr. McGugan said. “It's becoming a strength and a real solid contributor to our business. A lot of our customers are in both screen and digital, and it underpins our total offering. It’s an added opportunity for us.”

Because of Lyson’s European roots, Nazdar has enjoyed the added benefit of being able to successfully introduce its screen products into the European marketplace, as well as branch out into Asia and South America.

“The European and Asian market are two areas we did very well in, and Lyson allows us to go into both their screen and digital markets,” Mr. McGugan said. “We have a new sales director in Asia Pacific in Patrick Wong, who has many years of experience in distribution channels. He is a very good addition to our team.”

In 2008, the ink industry saw unprecedented increases in raw material costs. While these increases have stabilized somewhat, they are not returning to previous levels.

In terms of new products, Nazdar introduced a new environmentally friendly Bio ink which contains a higher percentage of renewable materials on the screen ink side, and added a wide variety of digital lines. “We are seeing opportunities in niche areas,” Mr. McGugan said. “It is interesting that in this time we are coming up with more screen products than we have in the last 10 years.”

There are plenty of opportunities for global expansion and further growth in the inkjet side of its business, which is why Mr. McGugan is optimistic about 2009.

“For us, the future still maintains excitement because we have the opportunity to increase our market share in the global marketplace,” Mr. McGugan said. “We’re going to consolidate where we can, expand our digital business in North America and grow outside of America.”

Superior Printing Ink

100 North St.
Teterboro, NJ 07608-1202
Phone: (201) 478-5600
Fax: (201) 478-5650
Sales: $65 million.

Major Products: Sheetfed, UV, waterless, heatset web, flexo and gravure inks, coatings and varnishes.

Key Personnel: Jeffrey I. Simons, chairman, CEO and president; Stan Hittman, executive VP; Harold Rubin, CFO; James LaRocca, senior VP, sales and branch operations; Stephen Simpson, senior VP, chief technical officer; Peter Nunez, corporate controller.

Number of Employees: 310.

Operating Facilities: More than 19 branches and 22 in-plant facilities nationally. The company operates two facilities through its Gotham Ink operations (NY and MA). Spinks Ink Co. is also a subsidiary located in Chicago, IL..

Comments: One of the largest suppliers of commercial sheetfed inks in North America, Superior Printing Ink’s sales were flat for the first half of 2008.

“We saw regional differences,” said Stephen Simpson, senior vice president, chief technical officer for Superior Printing Ink. “We saw evidence of the slowdown in June and July, and it really hit in November and December. In particular, kudos should go to our Midwest team, which has had strong growth. Our broad national presence is important in this market.”

In terms of products, UV is a growing market for Superior Printing Ink, and the packaging side of the business was not as heavily impacted by the recession.

“We are still seeing a lot of slowness in the commercial side, although not surprisingly, packaging companies are less impacted than commercial printers,” Mr. Simpson said. “A large amount of automotive and financial printing is gone.”

In response to the interest in greener printing, Superior Printing Ink introduced Biolocity, an innovation in environmentally responsible sheetfed ink technology. Biolocity delivers superb lithographic performance, running efficiency, and print quality with extremely low levels of volatile organic compounds. Biolocity formulations have 23 percent or more vegetable oil content and more than 60 percent bio-derived, renewable raw material content.

“Our customers are finding that Biolocity offers a powerful combination of performance features which allow them to increase their production throughput and reduce waste,” said Mr. Simpson. “Biolocity is being run successfully at 18,000 impressions per hour with no indication of misting or slinging.”

Mr. Simpson said that maintaining quality and service is absolutely essential for its customers, and to that end, Superior Printing Ink is not willing to compromise these core values.

“We are trying to do everything we do better,” Mr. Simpson said. “We’re making sure we don’t compromise our quality and service, which differentiates us from our competition. We will make our sourcing decisions that maintain our quality. We are meeting with our key raw material suppliers to make sure they understand our objectives in going through this recession, and asking them to be both supportive and creative. Now is not the time to jeopardize performance and our reputation in the marketplace.

“Ink companies can’t lose sight of the fact that their customers rely on our products, and the worst thing that you can do is make changes to save a few pennies that impact the quality, especially when your customers are also working on ever tighter margins,” Mr. Simpson said.

“I think it is going to tough for the remainder of this calendar year and into 2010,” Mr. Simpson added. “Companies that have sales and support people on the ground will be in the best position to capitalize on opportunities.”

Ink Systems, Inc.

2311 South Eastern Ave.
Commerce, CA 90040
Phone: (323) 720-4000
Fax: (323) 721-6000
Sales: $60 million.

Major Products: Heatset, sheetfed and UV inks.

Key Personnel: Urban S. Hirsch III, ex-president; Tim Van Scoy, VP of sales and marketing; Peter Notti, another VP; Masood Solaimani, VP UV/EB.

Number of Employees: 260.

Operating Facilities: Commerce, CA; Elk Grove Village, IL; Portland, OR; and 34 in-plant facilities.

Comments: When it comes to the high-end commercial market, the ability to offer excellent quality and support is essential. For Ink Systems, Inc., the high-end heatset, sheetfed and UV segments have been its home, with the company providing state-of-the-art in-plant operations, high-quality ink systems and proprietary software run by experienced personnel.

While Ink Systems has enjoyed excellent growth in recent ears, 2008 was a slight downturn in sales, due to printing demand being down at its customers. Urban Hirsch III, ex-president of Ink Systems, Inc., said that in these difficult times, ink manufacturers have to pay especially close attention to how they run their business.

“It was a very rough year,” Mr. Hirsch said. “There are lots of things to keep an eye on, including receivables, levels of debt and the viability of the customer base. You need staying power to get through it as well as have a conscious effort not to drop your service level.”

The company’s headquarters are in Commerce, CA, where its 50,000 square foot facility features excellent R&D and production facilities, manufacturing everything including the stainless steel equipment the company uses in its in-plant facilities. The company also has a 20,000 square foot facility in Elk Grove Village, IL, as well as an 18,000 square foot plant in Portland, OR.

SICPA Securink Corporation
SICPA Product Security LLC

8000 Research Way
Springfield, VA 22153
Phone: (703) 455-8050
Fax: (703) 450-4518
E-mail: securityinks@sicpa.com
Total Sales: $60 million (Ink World estimate).

Major Products: Proprietary security inks for intaglio, offset, screen, flexo and gravure security printing applications.

Key Personnel: James Bonhivert, CEO and president; Tom Jay, VP of sales and marketing; Tom Classick, technical director.

Number of Employees: Approximately 100.

Operating Facilities: Springfield, VA; Fort Worth, TX; Vaudreuil-Dorian, Quebec; Edo de México.

Comments: Clearly the worldwide leader for printing inks for currency and sensitive documents, Switzerland-based SICPA S.A. had sales of $400 million during 2008. SICPA provides security inks for the majority of the world’s currencies.

In the U.S., SICPA Securink Corporation maintains its domination of the security ink business, with inks appearing on everything from currency and security documents to other documents and packaging of value. SICPA’s color-shifting Optically Variable Ink (OVI) for U.S. currency has been an important aspect in reducing counterfeiting. In conjunction with its parent company and its high-tech suppliers, SICPA has created countless innovative inks in its R&D laboratories, and backs these high-tech products with strong technical support.

With SICPA Product Security LLC, the company’s brand security business, SICPA leverages its R&D knowledge into developing integrated systems for authentication and secure supply chain, combining material-based security ink technology and information-based secure tracking and tracing technology. Most notably, they manage the California tobacco tax stamp program, which includes an encrypted stamp and database management system.

Along the lines of the California program, SICPA is playing a key role in the recent Canadian tobacco stamp, which is aimed at battling counterfeit tobacco and contraband. As part of its Tobacco Compliance Strategy, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) contracted the joint venture of Canadian Bank Note Company and SICPA Product Security SA to design, produce and distribute a new excise duty stamp for tobacco products. This sophisticated identifier contains a number of overt and covert security features, much like those found on Canadian currency.

American Inks & Coatings

3400 N. Hutchinson St.
Pine Bluff, AR 71602
Phone: (870) 247-2080
Fax: (870) 247-5317
Sales: $55 million in ink and coatings.

Major Products: Water- and solvent-based flexo and gravure packaging inks and coatings; UV and EB coatings.

Key Personnel: Jerry Mosley, CEO; Mitch Baker, president; Michael Mosley, CFO; Scott Clark, VP and general manager.

Number of Employees: 155.

Operating Facilities: Pine Bluff, AR; Winston-Salem, NC; West Memphis, TN; Jacksonville, FL.

Comments: Although 2008 was the first year that American Inks & Coatings (AIC) saw a slight decline in sales, the company did enjoy a solid year overall, and has picked up a lot of new accounts in 2009.

“Our first three quarters of 2008 were good, but every market fell off the cliff in November,” said Mitch Baker, AIC’s president. “I think we’ll have a very good year in 2009, as we picked up substantial new business that started this year.”

A leader in the packaging ink marketplace, AIC offers a complete range of inks and coatings, including water-based inks for multiwall bag, high graphics corrugated, folding carton, gift wrap and other packaging, to solvent-based inks for flexible packaging, including laminations and other innovative applications. Its solvent-based business was a particular highlight for the company.

“We had really good growth in flexible packaging, and our laminating business came along very well,” Mr. Baker said.

Like so many other companies, AIC is carefully watching over its receivables.

“Our volume and sales are good, and our margins are decent, but cash flow is terrible,” Mr. Baker said. “Our past due receivables have been higher in the past five months than we’ve ever seen in our history.”

Mr. Baker sees opportunities ahead, as American Inks & Coatings is well positioned due to its strong financial position.

“We’re cautiously optimistic,” Mr. Baker noted. “We’re not necessarily hunkering down. AIC will remain aggressive in the markets we serve. There will be opportunities ahead to grow our business even more, but those opportunities will require caution and thorough evaluation of the financial viability of each opportunity. We see debt as the enemy and have no interest in going back to the well, but we do see AIC as being ideally positioned to survive and thrive through this recession.”

Color Resolutions International

575 Quality Blvd.
Fairfield, OH 45014
Phone: (513) 552-7200
Fax: (513) 552-7141
Sales: $51 million (Ink World estimate).

Major Products: Water-based flexo, solvent-based gravure, UV-curable and specialty inks for the packaging market.

Key Personnel: George Sickinger, chairman, CEO and president; Rick Gray, VP finance/CFO; John Edelbrock, VP of operations; Paul Fulton, VP of strategic accounts; Joe Schlinkert, director of technology; Hixon Boyd, VP, field operations, southern region; Dave Barker, VP, field operations, northern region; Jim Distler, VP, specialty products.

Number of Employees: 121.

Operating Facilities: Manufacturing plant in Fairfield, OH, and 16 blending sites.

Comments: The ink industry faced many challenges during the past year, and Color Resolutions International (CRI) was no exception. However, according to George Sickinger, the company’s chairman, CEO and president, 2008 turned out to be a good year but a difficult one, given the rising cost of materials and transportation.

“Fortunately, we were able to effectively communicate the need for higher prices to our customer; and thus we were able to recover most of the cost increases,” Mr. Sickinger said. “Net sales were up almost 5 percent with income up 15 percent. These results were due to new more value-added business in and outside the US. However, we did see the market soften in the last quarter and price increases from vendors began to abate.”

As a specialist in the packaging ink market, particularly the high-end corrugated segment, CRI was able to withstand thus far much of the impact of the recession.

“We are fortunate that CRI is in the supply chain for consumer staples, which are more resilient in times like this,” Mr. Sickinger noted. “We did have a soft January and expect to have a soft first quarter.”

The packaging market hasn’t been completely immune to the recession, as can be seen by the bankruptcy proceeding of Smurfit-Stone, a leader in packaging. “In the last quarter, rumors began to surface about the Smurfit-Stone bankruptcy, which, of course, happened last January. I am grateful that we chose not to participate in their RFP so our exposure was minor,” Mr. Sickinger said.

CRI’s customers are feeling the impact of the economic downturn, and Mr. Sickinger said the company is helping customers as best they can.

“Our customers do not have the backlogs they are accustomed to, and many are having layoffs and doing other cost cutting in anticipation of things getting worse,” he said. “Some are asking for help in cutting costs or to improve their efficiencies. Also, we are talking to all of our vendors about ways to reduce costs. But even with all this, I am optimistic about 2009. I think some much needed corrections will occur that will make strong companies stronger and flush out the ‘bottom feeders.’”

The higher cost of materials and the threat of some material shortages due to the disruption caused by the Summer Olympics in China was a key concern early in 2008, and had the financial downturn not occurred, Mr. Sickinger believed that material prices would have continued to spiral upward.

“Material costs have flattened since the fourth quarter and freight surcharges are disappearing,” he said. “Supply hasn’t been an issue for us. Our supplier base has been very good at presenting us with options for controlling cost. We have spent the last eight years developing strong partnerships with our suppliers. My larger concern is the inflation and shortages that may occur after the global economy recovers. Key suppliers have closed production facilities or canceled adding new capacity. We could be in for double-digit increases by 2011.”

For CRI, developing successful niches is a key to growth.

“We like the packaging market and are always looking for niches within the market that fit our expertise in water-based and UV curing inks and coatings,” Mr. Sickinger said. “We target potential customers that manage their businesses well and who focus on value-added printing. We feel well qualified to help customers reach new levels of graphics.”

CRI has been making inroads in narrow web and flexible packaging. “Last year we added a number of new products for the narrow web and flexible packaging markets along with sustainable inks for the corrugated and envelope markets,” Mr. Sickinger reported. “As for capital improvements, we have been reconfiguring our central facility in Fairfield, OH and several blending site to accommodate these new products and markets.”

For CRI, having a team of dedicated professionals is the only way to do business.

“As we all know, business is really about the people,” Mr. Sickinger said. “In the last 18 months, we have been very fortunate to bring in some top technical talent. We have added a graphic resource manager, several higher level field service people, a plant manager with both an engineering and environmental background, a marketing coordinator and a couple of field sales people. We have learned the importance of good hiring practices.

“Improved communications and training will be the highlight for 2009,” Mr. Sickinger added. “Our goal is to improve technical communications within the company so our people are better able to bring solutions to our customers faster. CRI is blessed with people with a lot of skill sets. It is now our job to leverage this advantage through cross training.”

Mr. Sickinger has high expectations for CRI in the coming years,

“CRI has just completed its new five-year plan,” he said. “We expect to grow at twice the industry average each year with customers that view ink as a strategic purchase that is key to their success. Although it has not been fully defined yet, we know that sustainability will play a significant role in our growth.”