Ink Inc

Phoenix Inks Rises

By Mike Agosta, Ink World Associate Editor | 10.09.09

According to ancient mythology, the phoenix was a magical bird that would set itself afire at the end of its life cycle and then rise from the ashes of its deceased self. Though not quite as dramatic as that, Phoenix Inks shares a similar genesis. Much like the mythical bird, Phoenix Inks rose out of the ashes of its predecessor.

Phoenix Inks Ltd., an independently owned U.K. ink manufacturer, was established in 1998 as a result of the sale of the Werneke worldwide group of companies, which included Label Ink Ltd., to Akzo Nobel Corporation. The senior management and directors of Label Ink decided not to join Akzo Nobel, and instead formed Phoenix Inks as a replacement for Label Ink in the marketplace.

Though the company is less than five years old, it has a wealth of experience to fall back on. Among the key people at Phoenix are managing director Geoff Woodacre, who served as managing director at Label Ink and has more than 15 years of industry experience, Gary Nelson, technical director with more than 17 years in the industry, and sales director Peter Mott, who has more than 23 years of ink experience.

In addition to its main office in Harlow, U.K., the company also has offices in Holland, headed by Rob Waterreus; Ireland, headed by John Carroll; and will soon expand into France with an operation headed by Patrick Daigneau.

The company, which makes water-based and UV curable inks, as well as ink solutions for all narrow-web converters using any print process from UV flexo, UV letterpress, rotary screen, water-based flexo, fabric inks, coatings and adhesives, has experienced growth year upon year since its formation. The primary market for the company is the narrow-web converting sectors of Europe, the Middle East and Australia, according to Mr. Mott.

Phoenix Inks currently has sales in more than 24 countries via a comprehensive network of joint ventures, distributors, agents and direct sales. The company sees its presence in so many countries as a necessity in providing the best service possible. “Recognizing the need of local supply and service via a comprehensive network of highly skilled Phoenix Inks personnel able to adapt to the changing needs of the customers throughout Europe was a major factor in Phoenix Inks’ decision to enter into a number of partnerships,” said Mr. Mott. “Also, technological exchange agreements with world-wide and world-leading companies allows Phoenix Inks to access the best research and development facilities available.”

One of the company’s present goals, Mr. Mott added, “is to maintain its UV technological advancements by continued re-investment and cross-country technology partnerships with world renowned companies of technical excellence.” Proof positive of this is the company’s continued partnership with T&K Toka, the Japan-based UV ink company. According to the company, this partnership has seen the introduction into the European markets of true low viscosity, high strength UV flexo products that offer significant benefits to the converter in terms of quality, reduced downtime and higher press speeds. Work continues through extensive R&D laboratories to offer further technological advances to customers, the company added.

Though the joint venture is a major part of the Phoenix Inks plan for success, the company does not rely solely on the facilities of its partners. Recently, the company relocated to a new purpose-built premises in Harlow, U.K. that is three times the size of the previous one. The purpose-fitted factory will facilitate larger production, laboratory and administration areas.

Production areas in the new factory will be sectioned into controlled zones for the production of water-based products, for UV ink products, for UV coatings and adhesives. Each zone will have a unique selection of the latest fully automated production equipment, automated mixers for blending wet products, three roll mills and custom built bead mills for the grinding of dry pigments and automated dispensing units for final decanting into various sized ink containers from 1kg to 1000kg.

The new laboratory is specially designed and equipped to serve the three main technical areas: specific customer projects, quality control and the research and development of ink systems for the future. The company intends to increase current technical staffing levels so that the quality of technical service and customer support will make for a more personal relationship between customer and experienced technical personnel, according to Mr. Mott.

Though the company has seen a great deal of success in its short lifetime, Mr. Mott believes that things will continue to grow and get better. In the coming years, Mr. Mott believes the company formed out of the remains of its predecessor will become a major independent European manufacturer, supplier and service company. “The closure and fall of one great name in Werneke Ink/Label Ink Ltd. will lead to the rise of another dedicated independent,” he said.