If the ink is not running right or the color isn’t matched exactly, a printer has to shut down their line, which is an expensive proposition. If a new formulation is needed, an ink company has to be ready and willing to respond quickly with an exceptional ink.
Needless to say, a printer will remember whether their ink supplier was there when they were most needed.
Tommy Samples had inside knowledge of what printers wanted from their ink supplier. After all, he had been a printer himself when he decided to form his own ink company, Atlas Printing Ink in 1970. Above all, Mr. Samples knew that printers required service, and he was determined to make sure that his customers received the same service that he himself had wanted.
“Tommy was an outstanding entrepreneur who built the company through service,” said Les Watkins, Atlas Printing Ink’s executive vice president, who recently joined the company as the first non-family member in senior management. “To this day, no one provides better service than us. We jump far, hard and fast when someone needs something. Tommy understood the needs of printers, and he believed that inks could be better.”
Tommy Samples started Atlas Printing Ink as a sheetfed ink specialist, and the company now makes some inks for heatset and business forms as well.
Quality is another area that Tommy Samples stressed, and it remains a critical aspect of Atlas Printing Ink’s performance.
“Our quality is on a par with everyone else,” Mr. Watkins said. “I believe small companies need to be even better, however.”
To further that end, Mr. Watkins said he hopes the company will earn ISO 9002 certification in the near future.
Tragically, Tommy Samples died early in his life, leaving his wife Frances to both raise their family and run the business. Mr. Watkins said that Frances Samples did both admirably.
“Tommy died young, and the business reverted over to Frances,” Mr. Watkins said. “It was a matter of survival. Frances is a good people person, and she was very determined to keep it growing.”
Mr. Watkins can attest to the company’s abilities and dedication; while at Graphic Fine Color two decades before, Mr. Watkins developed friendships with people at Atlas, and he was always impressed with their efforts. “I’ve known these people for 20 years, and we’ve remained close,” Mr. Watkins said.
To this day, Atlas Printing Ink has maintained its family feeling. Employees who work there have remained dedicated to the company and to the Samples family.
“The loyalty to the company is amazing,” Mr. Watkins said. “There are more 25-year members for a 31-year old company than you can imagine.”
It is extremely unlikely that Atlas Printing Ink will ever leave its family approach behind. Today, Frances Samples King remains Atlas Printing Ink’s president, while sons Rick and Michael are vice presidents. Rick has responsibility for sales, while Michael handles technical and manufacturing sides of the business. They both have been versed in the industry, having grown up in it.
Meanwhile, Atlas Printing Ink continues to deliver the best possible service and quality to its customers.
As long as the Samples family continues to follow the vision of Tommy Samples, it is certain that printers in Texas and beyond will have a good friend at Atlas Printing Ink.