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Greg Webb – MeadWestvaco



Mr. Webb, technical manager of publication inks for MeadWestvaco, has become a leading figure in both the ink and resin industries.



Published November 27, 2013
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Greg Webb – MeadWestvaco
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In 1985, Greg Webb, a recent graduate in chemical engineering from the University of Kentucky, interviewed for a pigment position at Chromatic Color in Elizabethtown, KY. While he did not get that job, Mr. Webb made a strong impression, and when Flint Ink opened its new resin plant in 1986, he was immediately hired as the night shift supervisor.

“When I got a call back from Curtis White, he told me I didn't get the job,” Mr. Webb recalled. “He followed by saying we should have an opening later in the year or early 1986 in Flint Ink's new Resin Plant, which had just started production. We talked in December, and I started work as the night shift supervisor in the Resin Plant on Feb 3, 1986. I'm glad that Curtis saw something in me and I am grateful for my first opportunity in graphic arts at Flint Ink Corporation.”

Being hired by Flint Ink proved to be a fortuitous decision for Mr. Webb as well as for the resin industry; Mr. Webb, who is now the technical manager of publication inks for MeadWestvaco, has become a leading figure in both the ink and resin industries, and received NAPIM’s prestigious 2013 Technical Associate Member Service Award.

“At Flint Ink, after becoming superintendent of the Varnish Plant (everyone’s rename of the Resin Plant) in E-town was an accomplishment,” Mr. Webb said. “Throughout my years at Flint Ink, the number of people that I worked with both from consolidation and organically was always changing. It was always exciting to be involved with varnish and ink collaboration as companies were acquired. Capital Printing Ink, Sinclair and Valentine, and BASF were examples of companies that became part of the Flint family. Flint Group has added several other companies since I left in 1997, but I still have great memories of the people I worked with then and now as a supplier."

In 1997, Mr. Webb left Flint Ink to become branch manager at National Printing Ink (Hostmann-Steinberg) in Louisville, KY, and in 1999, Mr. Webb returned to his R&D roots when he joined Westvaco.

“I joined National Printing Ink in Louisville, KY in 1997, and later became branch manager after the name was changed to Hostmann-Steinberg USA,” Mr. Webb said. “It was a wonderful experience being part of a great team, and it also provided me with the opportunity to be a part of sales, marketing, manufacturing, personnel issues and logistics all at the same time. One pound of ink or a 2,500 pound tote, quality matters to the customer regardless of their size. It was challenging, but everyone worked to satisfy our customers and it gave me a new perspective from a business and cultural viewpoint. I travelled to Hostmann-Steinberg Canada in 1997, my first trip outside the United States.

“Joining Westvaco in 1999 brought me back to development work, something that’s always been a part of what I enjoy doing,” Mr. Webb said. “MWV (MeadWestvaco) has given me many opportunities over the years, and as I have taken on other responsibilities, I have always continued to oversee technical development for resins for graphic arts. I lead a team of development chemists, who daily look for ways to improve products for our company and especially for our customers.”

MeadWestvaco has also given Mr. Webb the opportunity to work cloesly with NPIRI.

“Joining the NPIRI Board of Directors in 2002 has to rank very high on the list,” Mr. Webb said. “It was such a privilege to be around leaders in the industry, to hear what they were thinking and to interact with the group.”

Beginning with Mr. White, Mr. Webb has had the opportunity to work with a number of people who have influenced his career.

“Curtis White gave me my first review,” Mr. Webb recalled. “I met him at 7:15 a.m. after I got off night shift. He gave me high marks on everything, except he said I needed to communicate better. It took me a while to understand what he meant; I had been with the company a year, and no one knew me because I was on night shift. I started writing a few memos about plant improvements and technical reports about the lab work I was doing. I look back at that feedback, and realize that I still need to communicate better even though I’m not on night shift anymore.

“Fred Falk was a part of Capital Printing Ink when I met first met him,” Mr. Webb added. “As Capico was moving to Weyers Cave, VA and shifting to the Flint name completely, Greg Lawson and Bill Miller moved Fred to E-town for a year to help in production of varnishes in E-town to support the transition to Weyers Cave. He not only explained the technical details of varnish, resins and ink, but also provided me with a cultural influence that is still with me today. Fred later moved to Ann Arbor to work at the corporate headquarters, and one day we were in a meeting with lots of people from around the country. We had a pretty heated argument about a gel varnish and molecular complexity (a term I believe he trademarked), but when the meeting was over, Fred said, ‘Hey, Greg, want to get a beer?’ ‘Absolutely,’ I said, and we walked out together. Fred was always very respectful and grateful for the people around him.”

Mr. Webb has also learned much about the resin field from his colleagues at MeadWestvaco.

“Rick Houser was my hiring manager at Westvaco,” Mr. Webb continued. “He’s a terrific person, great cook and the hardest working guy I have ever seen in a lab setting. Today, he works in our DeRidder Plant leading the Quality and Plant Chemistry support groups. We have and still bounce ideas off of each other, but he will never let me forget the time I made strawberry pumpkin pie. Okay, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea.

“Pam Carney called me about an opening at Westvaco in Charleston, SC, and I was fortunate that they picked me to join the team back in 1999,” Mr. Webb noted. “I reported to her for about eight years, during which time I learned many valuable lessons and was provided guidance on many subjects. Once, I gave a presentation to a group of about 50 people, where she critiqued my performance immediately after I finished. She went over each note that she had taken and gave me the paper after she finished. I looked at that note for about three years, every time before I gave a presentation after that. She is honest, open, and sincere about helping me get better at personal skills and completing tasks. It’s nice to have that in any relationship, especially at work.

“Roger Williams is the technical director for MWV’s Carbon Technologies Group and was paired with me as my mentor by Christian MacIver as part of the Specialty Chemical Division’s Women’s Network mentoring program,” Mr. Webb added. “Roger is not part of the graphic arts community, but I wanted to mention him as a very gifted individual who took time before work each month over a year’s time for conversations about my life and career.”

Outside of work, Mr. Webb enjoy family life, fishing and basketball.

“I love to go fishing,” he said. “Sea trout, spotted bass, flounder in the saltwater and bass in fresh water. It’s basketball season, so I am rooting for my Kentucky Wildcats, but it gets a little difficult sometimes at home as my wife, Stephanie, graduated from the University of North Carolina.”

Mr. Webb said he is grateful and honored to receive the TAM Service Award.

“The people who have won this award before are legends to me, so to be included and recognized by my peers is a unique privilege that I am honored to accept with gratitude,” Mr. Webb said. “I would like to thank those individuals that have worked with me over the years, who are doing their best and then some. I salute you and thank you with my sincere regards, because you made this accomplishment possible.”

 



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