Top Companies Report

3. 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, commercial and digital print applications, including metal decorating, flexographic, gravure, web offset, lamination, corrugated, sheetfed, digital and UV/EB inks and coatings.

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

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: INX Digital, San Leandro, CA; INX Digital Milan; INX Digital Prague; Parent company: Sakata INX, Osaka, Japan.

Comments: Coming into 2010, ink industry leaders were understandably worried about the economy as well as raw materials. While the economy did show improvement during 2010, raw material supply and cost concerns remain a serious issue.
Rick Clendenning, INX International Ink Company’s president and CEO, said that INX International did have a better year in terms of sales in 2010, although raw materials are a concern.

“After a difficult year in 2009, 2010 started out about the same,” Mr. Clendenning said. “It wasn’t until the second quarter before things began to show signs of improvement. The last half of 2010 was much better and overall INX had a good year. One of the biggest issues was obviously the situation with raw materials supply, availability and escalating costs. Sales growth with existing accounts improved, giving us more indication that things are getting better as economic conditions continue to improve.”

In 2005, INX International and its parent company, Sakata INX, made the decision to emphasize the digital ink business by forming Triangle Digital INX with Triangle Digital, LLC. It has proved to be an excellent move.

Five years later, having added a few more pieces to the inkjet side, INX Digital International has become an industry leader in the digital segment, and is making major inroads into traditional printing markets.

“We have made huge inroads in the last 18 months since introducing the new line of EVOLVE Advanced Digital Systems,” Mr. Clendenning said. “In 2011, we have created a new business unit for our Prodigy brand that for the short-term focuses on the graphic arts industry, and will expand its horizons in the long-term.

“The progress we have made since we introduced EVOLVE Advanced Digital Solutions 18 months ago is beyond our expectations,” Mr. Clendenning added. “The market reaction continues to remain very high for the CP100 UV digital cylindrical printer, which is one of our specialty printers. It does open new doors with its capability to print on round cylindrical substrates such as cans for food and beverage, water bottles and other cylindrical containers.

“The MD series of UV flatbed printers also attracts a lot of attention since it prints at 1200 dpi on aluminum or steel substrates,” Mr. Clendenning added. “And we are very bullish on our label market prospects with the NW100 narrow web press. It attracted quite a crowd last September at Labelexpo and many people were impressed with its high speed, high quality and short run capability.”

Raw materials are keeping ink manufacturers busy, as pricing goes up considerably and key ingredients become scarcer.

“Raw materials costs began increasing in 2009 and mushroomed last year, causing a serious negative impact on printing ink production,” Mr. Clendenning said. “This was a direct result of the economic downturn to the point where raw material suppliers have not been able to adequately supply and service the market. As other companies did, we were forced to pass along these costs and raise prices between 4 to 8% last September. Raw material costs and supply issues must be carefully monitored and managed if we are going to be successful in meeting our goals for 2011. We are hopeful that the situation will improve in the second half of this year.”

Consolidation is a fact of life throughout the printing and ink supply chains, and Mr. Clendenning said that there will likely be more consolidation.

“It affects our business several ways, including the raw material supply situation,” Mr. Clendenning added. “The consolidations will be in every area – within our customer base, our supply base and from within our own industry. As our customers consolidate, it puts more pressure on all of us as their size increases and so does their buying power. Having the digital side of our business supplying more new products to help traditional printers create additional revenue streams for their business is helping us.”

All in all, Mr. Clendenning anticipates further improvement in sales in 2011, although raw materials bear watching.

“We expect to have a strong year in 2011, as we expect the momentum we experienced in the second half of 2010 to continue,” Mr. Clendenning concluded. “We are focused on new technologies in both the traditional and digital worlds. My only concern involves the raw material area.”