Henri Dyner Looks Ahead

By David Savastano, Ink World Editor | 10.08.09

Sun Chemical's former CEO anticipates 'graduating and branching out'

For 28 years, Henri Dyner has been a key leader at Sun Chemical, rising to president and CEO of the $3.3 billion ink and colorants company in 1998. His announcement on Feb. 12 that he was stepping down as CEO as of March 31 came as a major surprise to the industry.

Mr. Dyner will continue his close involvement with Sun Chemical on a part-time basis. He will be working in an advisory role to Wes Lucas, Sun Chemical’s new CEO and president, and providing support in ongoing relationships with larger customers and strategic projects for the company.

He is also looking forward to moving into new endeavors.

“I’m graduating and branching out,” Mr. Dyner said. “There is a time when one has to move on and pursue other interests in life.”

Decision to Step Down

Mr. Dyner said his decision to step down as CEO came three years ago.

“It’s very simple,” Mr. Dyner said. “I turned 65 in March. I’ve always thought it very important that a company be young and vigorous. In fact, I had planned to leave at 64. My wife, Josephine, has always been very good at putting up with all my traveling, and I felt it was time for us to spend more time together.”

Mr. Dyner stayed for one more year than he originally planned, to watch over Sun Chemical’s integration ofCoates Lorilleux, the third-largest worldwide ink manufacturer when Sun Chemical acquired it. Coates Lorilleux had been a force in Europe, and Mr. Dyner had long been interested in acquiring the $900 million ink company.

“The acquisition of Coates Lorilleux derailed my plan to retire at 64,” Mr. Dyner said. “I had been interested in acquiring them for more than 10 years now. Once we completed the acquisition, I wanted to assure their successful integration into Sun Chemical.”

Mr. Dyner also believes it is time for a younger person to step up while he is still at his peak.
“You should leave the party when you are having the most fun,” Mr. Dyner said. “Personally, I’ve always believed that older leaders should give a chance to allow younger people to assert themselves. I don’t believe in a magic age for leaders. And while I do think that experience is important and comes with time, youth brings with it a lot of energy and creativity. It’s important to step aside while you are still at your peak, so that you can work with the new people. And that’s what I am doing.”

Mr. Lucas, who became Sun Chemical’s president on Aug. 1, 2001, said he is grateful that Mr. Dyner will be advising him.

“Henri will be an advisor to me,” said Mr. Lucas. “I feel very good that we will be working together closely as we ensure a seamless transition and ensure that we build on our foundation.

“I’m biased, but Henri is one of the great leaders of our industry,” Mr. Lucas continued. “He has great character and is extremely intelligent. He’s had an enormous impact in Europe, and was at the helm when Sun moved up to the next level. Henri has kicked off several critical programs, including value selling, Presidential Quality and people development. His track record is phenomenal.”

Joining Sun Chemical

Mr. Dyner’s background was in mechanical engineering: he has his bachelor’s degree from the University of Brazil and master’s degreefrom MIT, where he was a Fulbright Scholar. Prior to joining Sun Chemical, Mr. Dyner was general manager of Torin, S.A., in Belgium.

Mr. Dyner came into the ink industry through a friend who had learned of an opening in the general manager’s position at Sun Chemical.

“I came into the ink industry by accident,” Mr. Dyner said. “ I was living in Belgium, and a very close friend of mine was a headhunter. He had gotten a job to find a general manager for Sun Chemical in Europe in 1973. I was not looking for a job. My specialization was air conditioning refrigeration, but I decided to meet with Ed Barr (Sun Chemical’s chairman).”

Once Mr. Dyner met with Mr. Barr, he knew that Sun Chemical’s blueprint for growth in the U.S. presented opportunities in Europe as well.

“Edsold me on the excitement,” Mr. Dyner said. “Our sales in Europe were little better than $20 million annually, but he shared with me a vision, which in retrospect was extremely modest.”

By the time Mr. Dyner was finished in Europe, he helped build Sun Chemical into the largest player in Europe. “Our sales are now $1.5 billion in Europe, three times our next competitor,” he said.

Part of Mr. Dyner’s success in Europe can be traced to his command of languages. There are stories of Mr. Dyner presiding over meetings in Europe, speaking in one language, listening to another language and writing still a third simultaneously. He said it was a skill he came upon when he was very young.

“My parents were Belgians, and we had moved to South America. By the age of 5, I could speak French, Portuguese, Spanish and Flemish, which my parents spoke when they didn’t want me to hear what they were talking about. I came to the U.S. to study at MIT, so I learned English. When I moved to Europe, I met my wife, who was from Holland, so I learned Dutch, and I also traveled a lot in Germany and Italy, so I picked up German and Italian. It’s been very helpful.”

Mr. Dyner’s efforts in Europe were quickly noticed by Sun Chemical’s leaders. He was promoted to corporate vice president for Sun Chemical’s international operations in 1983. Five years later, he was appointed senior vice president, international operations.

Mr. Dyner was one of the first printing ink executives to establish operations in Eastern Europe, and he also expanded into Latin America, where the Sun Chemical brand is now represented in virtually every country, with plants in almost all the countries.

In 1997, Mr. Dyner was named president and chief operating officer, Sun Chemical Corporation, and in 1998 he became president and CEO.

Mr. Dyner said that while Sun Chemical is strong, it must strive to further improve itself to survive in thefuture.

“The company is in better shape now than at any time in the past,” he said. “We have an enviable market share position, and a very clear idea of what to do with our market share.”

Among his recent initiatives, Mr. Dyner introduced high value-added solutions and the concept of working closely with customers to reduce their total cost of print.

“We have two very clear initiatives,” Mr. Dyner said. “Value selling, which is starting to take hold, and the Presidential Quality Program,” a precursor to the Six Sigma quality program Mr. Lucas is installing.

“I think the challenges are great,” Mr. Dyner said. “We’re still not earning the return on capital that our industry deserves. I think the way to improve this is by value selling, by not having your customer incur higher costs but by taking costs out of your customers’ supply chain and sharing savings.”

Henri and Josephine Dyner have two sons, Alex, 26, a lawyer, and Nicholas, a business analyst in the telecommunication components industry, and they have often asked their father what he sees in the industry.

“They’ve asked me what I’ve found interesting about the business, and what made it so fascinating,” Mr. Dyner said. “Business is business, but what makes it unique are the people you meet.

“There have been so many people who have influenced me, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Gordon MacQuaker and Ed Barr. Mac was my mentor, and I learned the business from him. I've enjoyed a very close relationship with Ed, and we complemented each other. There are hundreds more among our customers, suppliers, and competitors and within Sun.”

Future Plans

Mr. Dyner may be stepping down from Sun Chemical, but he is certainly not retiring in the traditional sense of the word.Rather, he is moving on to new opportunities.

“On March 7, I turned 65, but I don’t intend to retire,” Mr. Dyner said. “My new schedule will allow me to spend a little more time with my wife. I’ll be able to do a different kind of traveling. I’ve been very interested in history. I also look forward to branching out into new areas, such as education.”

One area Mr. Dyner will be involved in is the fledgling Graphic Arts Awareness Center, which will emphasize attracting talented young people to the graphic arts industry. Mr. Dyner had discussed this initiative when he received the prestigious Prism Award from New York University’s Center for Graphic Communications Management and Technology in May 2001.

“My insider’s perspective tells me our industry has so much to offer young people,” Mr. Dyner said. “I intend to continue to be involved. I’m a great believer in this industry and had a terrific time working in it. I wish I was 20 years younger, because the next 20 years will be even more exciting than the last 20 years in the graphic arts industry.”