Top Companies Report

2 Flint Group


2 Flint Group
North American Administrative Offices
14909 North Beck Road
Plymouth, MI 48170-7194
Phone: (734) 781-4600
Fax: (734) 781-4699

2011 Global Sales: $3 billion (€2.2 billion). North American Sales: $1 billion (Ink World estimate)

Major Products: Coldset and heatset web offset, sheetfed offset, flexographic, gravure and UV/EB inks; coatings for publication, packaging and commercial applications. A wide range of inks and coatings for narrow web tag and label applications. Photopolymer plates and sleeve systems for flexographic applications; highly engineered printing blankets and sleeves for offset applications; Full suite of 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; Antoine Fady, CEO; Michael J. Bissell, executive VP and CFO; Doug Aldred, president, Packaging and Narrow Web; William B. Miller, president, Print Media America/Print Media Europe; Brent Stephen, president, Asia Pacific; Claudio Labbe, president, Latin America; Mario Busshoff, president, Flexographic Products; Craig Foster, president, Flint Group Pigments; Jan Paul van der Velde, senior VP, procurement; Russell Taylor, senior VP global HR & communications; Susan Kuchta, VP, Packaging & Narrow Web in North America; Jim Rogers, VP/GM, Flexographic Products in North America.

Number of Employees: Approximately 7,300 worldwide.

Comments: The ink industry faced another challenging year in 2011, as raw material prices continued to rise through most of the year, while the improvement in the economy did not overcome the higher costs. Bill Miller, president, Print Media Americas for Flint Group 2011, said that 2011 was a difficult year for the printing industry and for Flint Group, although the company did perform well.

“Economic recovery was not strong enough to spark a notable recovery, though we did see a slight uptick in demand in some segments,” Mr. Miller said. “The major factor contributing to worse-than-expected results was the continuation of highly elevated raw material costs. Even though we saw some raw material costs stabilize, they did so at record-high levels. Considering the economic and industry headwinds that the graphic arts industry has been fighting for some years now, Flint Group performed commendably in 2011.”

Mr. Miller said that Flint Group had plenty of highlights in 2011, beginning with its impressive safety record.

“One of our greatest accomplishments in 2011 was Flint Group’s ongoing commitment to safety and impressive improvement in safety results,” Mr. Miller said. “We ended 2011 with an average recordable incident rate below 1. A rate of ‘one’ is considered ‘world class’, and our employees definitely earn that description. Everyone in the company –at all levels, in all jobs, in all sites –helped to make Flint Group’s safety culture more and more a part of who we are and what we do each day. Safety is an ongoing journey as we continue to strive for perfection. Our employees are doing a great job at making that journey safer and safer.”

Mr. Miller noted that two key Flint Group leaders earned prestigious industry honors this year.

“Two of our team members were nationally recognized for their contributions to the industry,” Mr. Miller said. “Diane Parisi, vice president supply chain management, earned the 2011 Ault Award bestowed by the National Association for Printing Ink Manufacturers, and Jed Batchelder, national account manager, was inducted into the Gravure Association of America’s Golden Cylinder Society. These are great and well deserved honors.

“It’s worth noting that many deserve a great deal of credit for day-to-day efforts that elude the headlines,” Mr. Miller added. “I’m referring to work such as providing customers with consistent and reliable service and quality each day; helping customers manage their cost to print; and continuing to evolve our product lines.”

Flint Group also introduced a number of new offerings to the North American print market, including Lithokett UV offset inks for label and other narrow web applications.

Higher raw material costs as well as supply issues have been a huge concern for ink manufacturers in the last few years. Ms. Parisi noted that the raw material market continues to be a challenge for a number of reasons.

“For example, many raw material costs continue to rise,” Ms. Parisi said. “Costs that have stabilized have done so at much higher levels than years past. In addition, supply is still tight, as crop yields have been sub-optimal while demand is still high. In 2011, just as we’ve done in the past and will continue into the future, Flint Group’s global procurement team addressed these challenges head on. We continue to leverage our worldwide resources, formulating skills and strategic forecasting and planning expertise.”

“Flint Group continues to stay abreast of raw material trends, especially as volatility continues,” Mr. Miller added. “Recent cost increases of WTI (West Texas Intermediate) and Brent crude oil are testament to that unpredictability.”

Even with these concerns, Flint Group’s leaders anticipate growth in the coming years, as the company has built the foundation for success through its R&D efforts, extensive portfolio of new products and emphasis on customer support.

“Flexible packaging will continue to take the lead in terms of growth, and experts expect the folding carton packaging segment to begin a slow and steady recuperation,” said Susan Kuchta, vice president of the North American packaging group. “Labels will continue to be a high focus area and is expected to grow at a higher rate than many other ink market segments.In 2011 Flint Group’s Packaging & Narrow Web group launched a number of new and innovative products that will provide valuable momentum for our growth in 2012.”

“Demand for energy curable and environmentally friendly inks are growing in nearly all print sectors, including –and perhaps most of all –in sheetfed,” added Doug Labertew, vice president, sheetfed. “Flint Group’s broad portfolio, including our ability to offer a suite of inks, chemicals and blankets, will fuel our growth in those and other areas.”

“As a strong player in all the major graphic arts segments, Flint Group will succeed by continuing the simple yet successful formula of creating quality products that customers want and need, and backing them by expert support,” Mr. Miller concluded.