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A Look at the Ink Industry: Ink World’s Interview with John Copeland

By David Savastano, Ink World Editor | 12.09.10

John Copeland, division president, Printing Ink Division, Toyo Ink America, LLC, offers insight into industry trends

The printing ink industry is clearly evolving, and it is interesting to hear the perspective of people who have long been involved in the field. From time to time, Ink World will interview some of the leaders in the field, and present their viewpoints.

This week, we spoke with John Copeland, division president, Printing Ink Division, Toyo Ink America, LLC.

Mr. Copeland has more than 30 years of experience working in the ink industry. He started his career in 1978 working for Sinclair & Valentine in Dayton, OH as a lab technician.

Mr. Copeland joined Toyo Ink in 2003 as vice president of operations. Prior to that, he was employed by Handschy Industries of Chicago for nearly 11 years, working in several capacities, and most recently held the position technical director of paste inks. During his career, he has held various positions within the industry, including technical, sales and manufacturing positions.

Mr. Copeland holds a degree in graphic arts technology with a major in printing science from Sinclair College in Dayton, OH. In March 2006, he received the “Ink Maker of the Year” award from the Chicago Printing Ink Production Club. Mr. Copeland is currently one of the executive directors and treasurer for NAPIM (National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers).

Mr. Copeland is married and is the father of four sons and one daughter as well as four grandchildren. Some of his hobbies include playing guitar, golf, watching ice hockey and studying the history of printing.

Ink World: How has the ink industry changed in recent years?

John Copeland: The ink industry has faced a number of dramatic changes in recent years. This includes the way inks are being sold. These days, non-ink companies such as graphic arts suppliers and press manufacturers function more like distributors and bundle inks into product packages as a way to cross-sell customers. Though the playing field is getting more narrow, there is more diversity in players.

The industry has also seen a sharp decline as the role of print and printed material continues to change. New technology continues to change the way people communicate, manage and access information. Traditional print media faces steep competition from digital media as more and more companies rely on online ads to market their businesses, products and services. And the global economic downturn added fuel to the fire as companies slashed ad budgets and turned to digital media for economical marketing alternatives.

Ink World: What are the biggest challenges facing the ink industry?

John Copeland: The industry is facing challenges on many fronts. Energy and raw materials costs have become extremely volatile and supply shortages prevalent, particularly in the last year or so. At Toyo Ink, we are constantly looking for ways to improve supply chain efficiency and our green procurement efforts.

Advances in new media and digital technology have compelled the printing industry to redefine itself. The industry is also being presented with an opportunity to change and address growth markets such as printed electronics and packaging. Technology is the cornerstone of the print industry's growth. Innovation and diversity in end-use products will drive new applications, sustainability of inks and new business opportunities.

Ink World: How can ink manufacturers best help their customers, whether it is developing new technologies or providing excellent value?

John Copeland: Toyo Ink America is constantly working to come up with new approaches, products and services to fit the needs of our customers. This entails working closely with customers to accurately understand their print requirements and the challenges they face. In addition, due to the complexity of today’s press and ink systems, there’s also a greater necessity to deliver technical guidance and support services to our customers throughout a project lifecycle. Toyo Ink’s highly experienced and skilled professionals deliver the technical expertise to ensure a project is fully completed.

Ink World: What is your outlook for the ink industry in the coming years?

John Copeland: I see a bright future for print and printing inks. The printing industry will continue to flourish in sectors for which there are no viable electronic alternatives, such as packaging, direct mail and printed electronics sectors. High performance, high quality inks, such as hybrid and UV/EB curable products, have been strong drivers of growth along with innovations in eco-friendly and energy-efficient technologies. I have no doubt that the Toyo Ink Group will continue to be at the forefront of cutting-edge technologies as we forge ahead with new developments in UV and LED-curable inks, conductive inks and eco-friendly inks and coatings.