Top Companies Report

10. 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 VP; Chris Lomas, VP of sales; Steve Pocock, technical director; Terry Mitchell, director of marketing.

Number of Employees: 165.

Operating Facilities: Seven.

Comments: The downturn in the economy that started in November 2008 continued into 2009 and led to lower ink demand in the automotive, graphic overlay, point-of-purchase and graphic display markets. 

“We took the necessary steps to realign our business to the new realities of the market while continuing to invest and position ourselves for a recovering economy” commented Mitch Bode, senior vice president of Fujifilm Sericol’s business in the U.S. and Mexico. “Our business started to show sustainable recovery in the fourth quarter of 2009, and we see even more positive signs of recovery for 2010.”

During 2009, many printers reduced employees to realign costs with lower print demand. Investment in new equipment slowed, and there was some consolidation of manufacturing facilities. Some print producers were forced to close down in 2009, and others sold out to larger print shops. Demand for print did show signs of strengthening in the latter part of the year, and most printers are more optimistic about an improving economy in 2010. 

Wide format digital inkjet printing remains a key growth area for the company. Most new digital equipment investments are forecasted to be in UV curable inkjet, a key competency of Fujifilm Sericol. 

Print buyer demands for shorter print runs, multiple versions, and faster turnaround times are driving print providers to invest in digital printing technology. The speed, quality and environmental benefits of UV curable inkjet compared to solvent inkjet have fueled the growth of UV equipment and inks. As a result, printers utilizing UV-curable inkjet have withstood the recent poor economic conditions better than solvent wide format graphics producers. 

“We continue to expand our portfolio of UV curable inkjet printers and develop new UV digital inks for a broader range of substrates and applications,” commented MR. Bode. “We are keenly focused on bringing new and innovative UV digital solutions to the market and expect continued growth of this business in the years ahead.” 

Fujifilm and its long-term partner Inca Digital continued its leadership in wide format digital flatbed printing innovations with the introduction of the Onset S20, the latest addition to the Onset series of printers. The new printer offers exceptional quality and choice of finish from low glare satin to high impact gloss making it ideal for point-of-purchase display graphic printing. Also launched in 2009 was an upgrade to the Onset S70 increasing its print speed to deliver up to 165 full bed sheets per hour. 

“The print speed and output of the Onset S70 is unmatched by any other UV digital flatbed press” commented Chris Lomas, vice president of sales for Fujifilm Sericol. “Although screen printing is still well suited for long print runs, The Onset is revolutionizing the transition from screen printing to digital printing of multiple version print runs up to 1000 pieces.”

While the Onset series presses are the fastest and most productive UV flatbeds, they are just one of many digital solutions offered by the company. Fujifilm also introduced the new UviStar UV roll press late in 2009. Designed to produce both POP quality as well as billboard quality at exceptional speeds, the UviStar series includes both 3.5 meter and 5.0 meter printers that can handle a wide range of media including recyclable polyethylene. 

“The UviStar is ideal for printing billboards, building wraps and grand format display graphics on polyethylene. This offers printers the combined advantage of lower environmental impact UV inks and a more green solution,” said Terry Mitchell, director of marketing.

While digital continues to grow, traditional screen printing markets are exhibiting some decline. Screen ink volumes declined in part due to the slower economic conditions, but also due to a transition from screen to digital printing.

“We expect digital to continue to grow in 2010,” said Mr. Lomas. “However, we are also expecting our traditional screen ink business to strengthen along with an improving economy.”

Fujifilm Sericol harmonized distribution facilities with existing Fujifilm distribution centers in 2009 to lower cost and improve distribution efficiencies. A computerized managed inventory program was also expanded to provide improved service and lower freight cost for high volume customers. 

“Our managed inventory program has enabled us to reduce shipment frequency while maintaining high order fill rates,” commented Scott Holub, vice president operations. “Our program aligns well with customers focused on implementation of lean principles to reduce waste and improve productivity.”

Fujifilm Sericol has integrated more closely with other Fujifilm divisions over the past several years. Further integration activities are planned for 2010 to reduce cost and improve service to customers. 

“Print providers are converging and consolidating to include multiple print technologies,” said Mr. Bode. “The combined strengths of Fujifilm in providing products and services for offset, screen and digital printing put us in a great position to expand our customer base and grow our business.”