While at Lawter, Mr. Horn created a series of alkyds and heatset vehicles more than four decades ago that not only changed the way printing was done, but remain standards in the industry today. During the past 42 years, he has continued to formulate leading-edge products for the industry.
The industry has certainly noticed Mr. Horn’s contributions. When the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM) created its Technical Associate Member Service Award in 1995 to honor a TAM member whose outstanding contributions to the field advanced the printing ink industry, Mr. Horn was the first recipient.
When the Chicago Printing Ink Production Club (CPIPC) created its Lifetime Achievement Award this past February, Mr. Horn, a past club Pioneer Award honoree in 1984, became the first recipient.
Aside from his technical innovations, Mr. Horn has also mentored hundreds of chemists at Lawter and Eastman Resins, whose own contributions continue to shape the industry. It is no wonder, then, that Mr. Horn is considered to be an industry pioneer by his colleagues.
Learning About Varnishes
Mr. Horn started early in the printing business. At age 17, just out of print shop at Hershey Industrial School, he got a job as a pressman in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
“I had looked up a local print shop, and took a job running a press 16 hours a day for the first six months,” Mr. Horn said. “Then the IRS went after my boss for not paying me overtime. After that, I went back to Hershey and got references to a number of companies in the Philadelphia area.”
While that job did not last too long, it provided Mr. Horn with insight into what works on presses. One of the references Mr. Horn received was to Bill Bond at Crescent Ink & Color Company in Philadelphia, where he would spend the next 12 years learning virtually all technical aspects of the ink business.
“I really liked Mr. Bond when I interviewed there, and he asked me to give Crescent Inks a try,” Mr. Horn recalled. “I tried it and kind of fell in love with it. I started in color QC and became head color matcher, and I was also doing a lot of service work, and got to know the interaction between ink and press.”
While at Crescent Ink, Mr. Horn realized that there was also formal knowledge to gain about his business. He was married to his wife, Martina, and they had three children, so Mr. Horn decided that all he could afford to do was take night courses on chemistry.
“I noticed that the guys who knew their stuff all spoke chemistry, so I decided to take night classes in chemistry at St. Joseph’s College for three years,” Mr. Horn said. It turned out that I got enough of what I needed.I started making varnishes for Crescent because I realized it was the heart of the ink, and I found I liked the brown sticky stuff. I started making everything but alkyds.”
By 1957, Mr. Horn was making all of Crescent’s oil-based varnishes, and in 1958 he made his first heatset varnish and ink for the company that would be used on New York Times’ TV Guide. He had also become a good customer of Lawter’s Krumbhaar Division, and when Crescent changed its management in June 1960, he was lured into the varnish industry by Dan Terra, the founder of Lawter Chemicals.
He quickly made a reputation for himself at Lawter, where, as vehicle lab manager, he immediately created the high-performance Terlon alkyds, which are still being sold on a global basis.
“My experiences in the press room and at Crescent really paid off,” Mr. Horn said. “Once Lawter saw what I could do, Dan Terra just left me alone to create.”
Two years after developing Terlon, he formulated the successful Thermex line of heatset vehicles, which changed web offset printing as inks utilizing these vehicles allowed printers to achieve much faster press speeds than ever before. He quickly followed these developments with Halex, the Tronomls, 100-S and Thermogel.
“In my opinion, Lud’s most outstanding characteristic is his creativity – he has left a legacy of products that will outlive most of us,” said Gene Cassidy, director of strategic sales and global accounts at Eastman Resins.
“When I’m presented with a new chemical or new structure, I recognize what it can do,” Mr. Horn said. “Even though the industry has become a lot more instrumented in terms of QC and on how a new vehicle will perform on press, you still have to be able to look through the instruments to realize what they are saying.”
By 1975, Mr. Horn was travelling worldwide and picking up more information to synthesize his vehicles. In 1980, he was named vice president of vehicle R&D, and was promoted to senior vice president of R&D at Lawter in 2000. He has also been named technical fellow at Eastman Chemical Company, the company’s highest honor.
Mr. Horn said that he has been fortunate to work with many people who have shared their knowledge with him over the years.
“Among the people who influenced me were Dan Gallagher and Al Gourdier of Crescent Ink, who were primarily responsible for pouring knowledge about ink into my thick head,” Mr. Horn said. “Dr. Edward Haines at Superior Varnish and Lawter’s Bob Voedisch, who introduced me to the alkyd business, were also really influential. Henry Ferguson, vice president of Lawter at the time I joined, was extremely helpful. He was the chemist who really put Lawter into business. Wes Bois taught me alkyd formulations and inspired me throughout his time at Lawter.
“Greg Borucki has been my right-hand man since he joined Lawter in 1972,” Mr. Horn said. “I would say that between us, we taught more than 100 different people.”
Inspiring His Colleagues
Colleagues who have worked with Mr. Horn through the years say that he is a special person who has an uncanny ability to both recognize what a chemical can accomplish and communicate that to others.
“Lud is one of those individuals that truly loves his work and lives to work, which is why he continues working at the age of 73,” said Mr. Cassidy, director of strategic sales and global accounts at Eastman Resins. “One of his most unique talents is the ability to translate resin and varnish chemistry to solve real-life printing challenges. One of Lud’s pet peeves is when he is asked to develop a ‘match’ for a competitive product. He is a true competitor and if he can’t beat the competition, he would rather not play.”
“In the years prior to my joining Lawter, when I owned my own varnish business, I always looked up to Lud as the ‘Master of Ink Vehicle Technology,’” said Guy Trerotola, director of strategic sales and global accounts at Eastman Resins. “One of the reasons that I was excited about joining Lawter was that I would be able to walk into the lab ask Lud anything about varnishes, and I was not disappointed. He has always been accessible and willing to help. His contributions go beyond the laboratory. He has been a valuable asset in the sales and marketing area. Lud created many of the registered trade names for Lawter varnishes. His understanding of the market is timely and accurate.”
Dan DeLegge, vice president of Ink Solutions, LLC, was hired by Mr. Horn at Lawter, and worked with him for 19 years. He said that the chemists at Lawter often joked with Mr. Horn about his lack of formal chemistry training, but they knew he was one of a kind.
“He is really one of the pioneers,” Mr. DeLegge said. “He is a craftsman. He really helped people break new ground. We always teased Lud that all us chemists worked for an alchemist.”
Mr. DeLegge said that Mr. Horn’s insight as to what a product can do was a unique talent, but his ability to explain that product’s capabilities to customers is even more exceptional.
“Lud has an uncanny talent – he understands how to use these ingredients to make a better ink to run on press, and he can then communicate that to ink makers,” Mr. DeLegge said.
“Lud has always focused on developing solutions to customers’ problems,” added Dr. Hemant Dandekar, general manager, inks, global at Eastman Resins. “He also made sure that the technical projects Lawter was working on were relevant to the customers’ needs and could be applied immediately to make an impact. By focusing on not just what the customers said they wanted, but also on unmet and unvocalized needs, Lawter, under his technical leadership, has been able to maintain its position as a foremost industry leader in technology.”
Today, Mr. Horn has cut back a bit on his work schedule, After his first wife, Martina, died in 1989, Mr. Horn remarried in 1997 to Amy, a retired nurse. He now works three days a week, and spends more time with his family, including his four sons, two daughters and 17 grandchildren.
Looking back on his accomplishments, Mr. Horn said modestly, “I think it’s a gift.”
Considering the advancements that have been made in the ink and printing industries as a result of Mr. Horn’s creations, that “gift” has been a tremendous one.