For some people, working in a small family-owned business is the ideal way to go. Other people like the challenges of being in a much larger organization.
Dean Brewer, founder and chief formulator of R&L Ink of Georgia, Inc., tried both approaches. He began with his father, Louie Brewer, at Brewer’s Printing Ink of Georgia, and joined Monarch Color when that company acquired Brewer’s flexo and offset ink divisions.
“I’ve spent the majority of my career working with my father, and was exposed to a wide variety of inks and printing applications atBrewer’s Printing Ink,” Mr. Brewer said. “Monarch Colors acquired our narrow web tag and label division and offset operations from my father and I went with it. I wanted to get experience working for a larger company. Things didn’t work out for them in Atlanta, and they moved out.”
When Monarch Color left Atlanta, Mr. Brewer decided it was time to take the plunge and go into business for himself.
“I’ve been in the business serving the waterbase market for 18 years. If they were going to pull out of Atlanta, why not go for it? Most of my career was spent selling and formulating for my father at Brewer’s Printing Ink,” Mr. Brewer said. “I was fortunate to be able to purchase most of the lab equipment from local sources, and larger equipment from my father within a week after the separation from Monarch. This enabled me to keep my customers running with little to no inconveniences.”
R&L Ink of Georgia specializes in formulating unique high-quality narrow web flexo water-based and UV inks and specialty coatings. In addition, R&L will be introducing new fluorescent water-based inks with more strength and user-friendly viscosities as well as super-brilliant UV flexo and letterpress metallic inks. Mr. Brewer said it is essential to remember that no two customers are alike.
“A lot of companies have a standard product line, and they tell printers it should work for them,” Mr. Brewer said. “The problem is that many press operators have their own preferences about how they want the ink to perform, not to mention the equipment variations from shop to shop. That’s where you have to get creative, and that’s what I love to do.”
Today, Mr. Brewer’s new company has been in business less than a year, and he knows that the family-run approach is the way for him.
“I don’t want to be one of the largest manufactures in the industry, but we are making our way to being one of the best,” Mr. Brewer said. “R&L is a family business, and I like that. The people we have with us have known our family a long time, and as a result, we have a tight-knit operation.”
For Mr. Brewer, having a small company has many advantages for customers, particularly in terms of service and quality.
“We don’t take the ‘big company’ attitude that you have to fit into a certain volume before you receive good service,” Mr. Brewer said. “The customer pays for excellent service in the price of the product; you shouldn’t have to be a $2 million-plus account to get it. Prompt turnaround times on orders and projects are key to service, but if the consistency and quality of the product isn’t there, you’re just wasting the customer’s time.”
Mr. Brewer believes that the emphasis on service and quality will pave the way for R&L Ink to succeed.
“If I have a printing ink on press, I want to take pride in the work that’s being done,” Mr. Brewer said. “I made the commitment to use very high quality raw materials in the entire product line. We remain steady in our field-testing and R&D lab to ensure our technology stays on the cutting edge. My customers know what to expect, and our products should allow them to compete at the highest levels in their market.”
Small-Business Approach Suits R&L Ink of Georgia Best
By David Savastano, Ink World Editor