Such is the case with Atlantic Printing Ink (API), which had its beginning as A-AAA Printing Ink Company in 1972. In 1980, Hugh O. Price, A-AAA’s founder, sold the company to Jim Carey, who changed its name to Atlantic Printing Ink in 1983. Morrison Ink acquired the company in 1992, and sold it to Bob Pettit in 1993.
Mr. Pettit, API’s president, brings a unique perspective to the ink industry. His background is in polymers, having worked for Air Products and SC Johnson among other companies over the years.
The addition of Patrick Laden as vice president of operations added a strong ink background. Mr. Laden had held key technical positions with companies as diverse as Tillie Engdahl, Inmont, Del Val Ink & Color and Kohl & Madden, where he served as general manager for fluid inks before joining API. Mr. Laden had developed a number of innovative projects over the years, and with Mr. Pettit and other top technical people, are creating specialized inks for innovative uses.
“Bob is very knowledgeable about polymers, and I have a lot of expertise in ink,” Mr. Laden said. “Between us, we’ve come up with a lot of innovative niche products. We went into specialty areas and emphasized our quality and service, which has served us very well.”
Moving into niche markets came at the right time, as API’s earlier strength in corrugated ink was facing increasing competition from larger companies.
“Prior to 1998, we had a broad range of inks, particularly in corrugated,” Mr. Laden said. “We felt we needed to get out of that as soon as possible.”
Developing UV inks was the first step, which API had perfected by 1999. “South of Atlanta, we are the only company to manufacture UV ink from raw materials,” Mr. Laden said. “It’s been very good for us.”
Security inks were next for API. To date, API has thermochromatic, coinable, chemically reactive, pearlescent security and black light sensor inks.
Mr. Pettit, Mr. Laden and the rest of API’s talented staff are working on a series of new projects in security and other fields that have much promise.
“We have four or five more hot projects right now,” Mr. Laden said. “One of our newest innovations is a water-based ink for sausage casings.By using water-based ink, hazardous waste will no longer have to be tracked, and there will be no health issues or paperwork. It’s a huge plus.”
Being able to provide excellent service is also a big plus for API. “We can custom formulate inks to meet any of our customers’ needs,” Mr. Laden said. “We can formulate and manufacture anything our customers want in a day, from a gallon to a tote. On occasion, our customers will call, and within an hour we can have our ink on their presses. That is what big companies can’t do that a smaller company can do for their customers.”
The combination of innovation and service has proved successful for API. While API still has its roots in Tampa, the company is adding a branch in Kansas City, MO to help meet growing needs. Meanwhile, its new products continue to draw tremendous interest.
All in all, it appears that API has indeed found an excellent niche in the world of printing ink.