Dedicated to Service

By David Savastano, Ink World Editor | 10.07.09

Apollo Colors' Tom Rogers Receives NAPIM's TAM Service Award

The National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM) has many awards for ink manufacturers. However, there is a single award that is given out to the suppliers who do so much for the industry they serve.

Beginning in 1995, the Technical Associate Member (TAM) Service Award has been presented to an “outstanding individual who, as a supplier to the printing ink industry, has played a major role in the progress of printing ink technology.”

Considering the practically limitless number of superb candidates for whom the award might deservedly honor, Tom Rogers, this year’s TAM Service Award honoree, is an exceptional choice. Mr. Rogers worked in the ink industry for 11 years before becoming a leader in the pigment industry.

After retiring briefly in 1993, he returned in 1994 to take over Apollo Colors, where he is now president and CEO. All told, Mr. Rogers has 45 years in the ink and pigment industry.

Aside from his record as an industry leader and tremendous service to the trade associations aligned with those fields, Mr. Rogers has developed a multitude of friendships over the years. All in all, Mr. Rogers was a natural choice for the TAM Service Award.

Considering the applause he received in accepting the award with his wife, Jeanne, during the National Printing Ink Research Institute’s (NPIRI) 45th Annual Technical Conference in Scottsdale, AZ on Oct. 18, 2001, it would seem that leaders of printing ink and supplier companies alike agreed with his selection.

Starting in the Ink Business

During his senior year of high school, Mr. Rogers was asked by Herm Feldman, a family friend, if he wanted a job at Schwarm & Jacobus. Little did he know that a part-time job in high school would lead to a very successful career.

“I started in the ink industry with Schwarm & Jacobus in March 1956, while I was still in high school,” Mr. Rogers said. “It was an afternoon job in a tough neighborhood. The guys I worked with there had me work in the lab. It was full of characters. Here I was, 17 years old and as impressionable as hell.”

After Schwarm & Jacobus, Mr. Rogers went to Hilton Hawley, which merged with C.M. Monk before being acquired by Borden Chemical. “I wanted to get into sales, and the guys at Borden wanted me to go to Kalamazoo. I had a son who was quite ill – he passed away at 8 – who needed extensive medical attention that was not available in Kalamazoo. I had the opportunity to go to Kennedy Printing Ink, which was really enjoyable.” While at Kennedy Printing Ink, Mr. Rogers worked with the Scott family, who he keeps in touch with to this day.

“Tom did a very fine job with us, and he stayed close to us,” said Jim Scott, president of Kennedy Ink, whose father hired Mr. Rogers as a salesman. “He’s a very good guy, and he has remained loyal to Kennedy Ink.”

Joining the Pigment Industry

Mr. Rogers was at Kennedy for four years when he decided to try his hand in the pigment industry in 1966. “I figured I knew something about printing ink, so I could sell to them,” he said.

That led him to Chemetron, and a virtual who’s who of pigment leaders, including Rucker Wickline. In 1979, BASF acquired Chemetron, and Mr. Wickline left to join Chromatic Color, Flint Ink’s initial foray into the pigment business. Mr. Rogers became director of marketing. In 1986, BASF combined its pigments and dyes divisions, and split them into two strategic business units. Mr. Rogers was responsible for the coatings, plastics and specialty colorants businesses, but he found that he missed the ink industry.

“I missed the guys in the ink business,” Mr. Rogers said. “Ink is a dynamic business, and it really gets into your blood.”

In 1987, an opportunity came up to invest with a group that acquired Sinclair & Valentine from Allied Signal.

“I was a limited partner, and ran their Ridgway Color business,” Mr. Rogers said. “Flint Ink, the general partner, bought out the limited partners in 1990, and then they merged Chromatic Color, Drew and Ridgway into CDR.”

“When Flint bought Sinclair & Valentine and Ridgway, Howard Flint asked me who I recommended to run Ridgway, and I recommended Tom,” said Mr. Wickline.“He’s a great friend of mine, and I admire the man. He’s as good as they get.”

Mr. Rogers would stay with CDR Pigments & Dispersions until 1993, when his father passed away. For Mr. Rogers, it seemed that it was time to retire after 37 years in the business.

“Jeanne and I have a home in Arizona, and I decided I would hang it up,” Mr. Rogers said. “I have a lot of hobbies, including dogs and horses (he has a champion Kerry Blue terrier, Pog, Irish for kiss, that is the number one female in breed points and has been invited to Westminster), but I got bored with being retired. I missed the ink industry. I really did miss the industry and the people.”

Apollo Colors

In 1993, retirement no longer had the appeal it once did for Mr. Rogers, and an opportunity came from Norm Rumpf, chairman of Apollo Colors. Mr. Rumpf had serious health problems, and the leadership at Apollo Colors wanted an experienced leader to be prepared in case Mr. Rumpf’s health failed.

“I knew Norm from the industry,” Mr. Rogers recalled. “Tragically, Mr. Rumpf would pass away a year later.”

In the past eight years, Mr. Rogers has made his mark on Apollo Colors, creating new products and acquiring Allegheny Color.

“Our principal business is flush color, although we have evolved into manufacturing presscake for the liquid ink market,” Mr. Rogers said. “We focus on what the industry needs. The opportunity with Allegheny was to get into the dry pigment market, and to get a feel for their markets. By adding Allegheny Color, we’re now in dry phthalocyanine pigments for coatings and plasticssystems in addition to inks.”

Above all, Mr. Rogers said it is the people at Apollo Color who deserve the credit for the company’s success.

“The people at Apollo do a bang-up job,” Mr. Rogers said. “They make Apollo what it is.”

His colleagues at Apollo feel that Mr. Rogers is being too modest.

“Tom is a great person,” said Dave Klebine, Apollo Colors’ general manager. “He’s an excellent leader for everyone at Apollo. He goes out of his way to get to know everybody at the company. He’s very good at delegating authority when appropriate and listening to his trusted advisors. He’s very direct and straightforward, and you know where he stands on an issue. He’s been a very good mentor for me.”

Serving the Industry

It would be one thing if Mr. Rogers concentrated his efforts on his business career alone. However, Mr. Rogers has also been extremely active in industry trade associations. He is chairman of the Color Pigments Manufacturers Association’s (CPMA) Board of Governors, as well as a NAPIMdirector-at-large and chairman of the TAM Steering Committee.

These commitments are time-consuming, but they are critical to their respective industries. For Mr. Rogers, working with the leadership of CPMA and NAPIM is a pleasure.

“Both NAPIM and CPMA are proactive on key issues,” Mr. Rogers said. “Jim Coleman (NAPIM’s executive director) and Larry Robinson (CPMA’s president) are both very bright and see the challenges that face their industries. They are providing great leadership.”

Leaders both past and present of NAPIM, CPMA and the ink industry agree that Mr. Rogers is a special individual who is deserving of any accolades he receives.

“Tom’s a very deserving person, and has been a longtime supporter of our organization,” said Mr. Coleman.

“I’ve known him for a long time, and he is a true gentleman and a good friend,” said Jimmy Sutphin, former NAPIM executive director.

“Tom is a very thoughtful individual who is very knowledgeable about the industry,” said Mr. Robinson. “He is very supportive of the CPMA, and he understands the importance of having a strong CPMA to represent the interests of the color pigments industry.”

“I’ve known Tom since his days with Chemetron,” said Massie Odiotti, former executive vice president, inks with Sun Chemical Corporation. “He’s always been very astute. He had an ink background, which allowed him to understand what ink companies needed. He was always a good salesman, and would come in and try to solve your needs. He’s a hard-working man and does a tremendous job. He’s a fine man.”

“He’s very deserving,” said Mr. Wickline. “I don’t know any one person who as a supplier has done more to promote the ink industry as Tom has. He is a yeoman.”

What the Future Holds

For Mr. Rogers, receiving the TAM Service Award has great meaning.

“I was very much honored to receive the TAM Award,” he said. “I know the quality of the people who supply the industry. You’re always honored to receive an award like that from your peers.”

Mr. Rogers is now 63 years old, and he’s finishing his 45th year in the ink and pigment business. Retirement didn’t quite fit him eight years ago, and he’s not sure it will when he decides to leave the industry again.

“I’m 63, and I’ll probably retire in a few years,” Mr. Rogers said. “At some point, someone else should run the business. I don’t know what I’d like to do. The ink industry is like family, and I’m sure I’ll miss it again.”

When Mr. Rogers does retire, the printing ink industry will certainly miss him, too.