The printing ink industry is witnessing countless changes in the industries that its serves. New technologies such as ink jet inks, conductive inks, energy curables and flexible packaging inks are now appearing front and center along with the more conventional inks.
To lead a major company in these times requires strong business experience and knowledge. Having a person who also has a background in virtually all aspects of the ink industry is an additional benefit.
In Bill Miller, Flint Ink Corporation believes it has found the right man to lead its North American operations. Mr. Miller, who became North American president effective January 1, was previously vice president and general manager of the company’s North American publication division, and has been in the industry for 26 years.
“Throughout his career in the ink industry, Bill has experienced every level of the company, from the plant floor through sales to divisional management,” said Dave Frescoln, Flint Ink’s president and COO. “He now brings this exceptional perspective to bear on the entire North American operation. He understands how all of the pieces should fit together, and he knows how to get that done. Under his leadership, our North America group will become greater than the sum of its parts.”
Experience in the Industry
Mr. Miller joined the ink industry in 1976 by working in production at Capitol Printing Ink, a Washington, D.C.-based commercial sheetfed and heatset ink manufacturer. Mr. Miller then moved over to the sales department, and within five years, was managing sales teams. In 1986, Flint Ink acquired Capitol Printing Ink, and Mr. Miller become regional manager for both Flint Ink and Capitol in the southeastern U.S.
The acquisition of Capitol Printing Ink brought more to Flint Ink than sales; it would serve as a source of top leadership, including Mr. Miller.
“We gained a lot of strong people who knew the ink business well through our acquisition of Capitol Printing Ink in 1986,” said H. Howard Flint II, chairman and CEO of Flint Ink. “Bill was one of those leaders, and he has proven that time and again.”
Mr. Miller quickly moved up through the ranks at Flint Ink after the company reorganized in 1991, first as southern regional manager for covering all product lines. In 1993, Mr. Miller was named vice president of the heatset division, and four years later became vice president and general manager for the publication division, responsible for heatset and publication gravure. Mr. Miller was also named to the Web Offset Association’s Suppliers Board, where he picked up additional contacts and experience.
Mr. Miller expects that his strong industry experience will be of great help to him in his new role.
“My knowledge of the different disciplines and how they all play a role will be extremely beneficial to me,” Mr. Miller said. “Our business is always under pressure, and I understand all the different segments of our business, which will help me to align our resources. It’s a very challenging time for our industry now, and aligning present-day resources and addressing our future direction are going to be key.”
In recent months, Flint Ink has made a number of steps toward the future. The company has made a multi-million dollar commitment to developing the conductive ink field, and has launched Jetrion, LLC, its new digital ink company. Mr. Miller said that moving forward in new technologies while improving present-day operations is necessary to succeed in the coming years.
“Business as usual will mean certain failure in the future,” Mr. Miller said. “Companies must recognize that the industry is changing. You have to do a better job of what you already do and be more customer-driven than ever before. You can see some trends coming into our industry and you can’t get caught up in day-to-day matters and ignore the future.”
In his new role as North American president, Mr. Miller knows he can count on the support of Flint Ink’s top leadership, starting with Mr. Flint, Mr. Frescoln and executive vice president David B. Flint.
“Howard Flint is identified with Flint Ink,” Mr. Miller said. “Under Howard’s leadership, our company has grown from $250 million to $1.4 billion, and for a chairman and CEO of a company as large as ours, he is amazingly customer-focused. He is the first person to volunteer to go with you to meet with a customer.
“When Dave Frescoln came on as president, he took our business to another level through his knowledge of acquisitions and of the global business world,” Mr. Miller said. “His business savvy is tremendous and the company has move from being a leading domestic ink provider to being a worldwide competitor. David Flint, our executive vice president, is the conscience of our company and understands the image of Flint Ink in the marketplace. Over his 30 years in the business, he has played a key role in Flint Ink’s success in news ink.”
Mr. Miller is also happy with his team of vice presidents/general managers who are handling the company’s specific divisions, beginning with Sue Kuchta, who has taken his old position with the North American publication and commercial ink division. She was previously vice president of sales for the division.
“Sue’s been with us for seven years,” Mr. Miller said. “She was a marketing manager who served several divisions of Ford Motor Company prior to joining us as marketing manager of our publication division. Sue was then promoted to account vice president for R.R. Donnelley and Sons, then vice president of sales in the publication division.”
The vice president and general manager of the packaging division is Sean Mikaelian, who was formerly vice president of sales for the division. Mike Green, vice president and general manager of the news ink division, previously headed the company’s digital division.
“I feel like our North American management team is very well positioned to meet the challenges we face daily and those that we will face in the future,” Mr. Miller said. “We’ve got a great new team with Sue, Sean and Mike. Both Mike and Sean have been in the business a long time and have major product line experience.”
Ultimately, the leadership of Flint Ink’s North American operations will have to make the decisions necessary for success, and Mr. Miller believes the right people are in place to do just that.
“With Howard’s experience and knowledge, Dave Frescoln’s global perspective and understanding, and David Flint’s understanding of Flint’s image, together with our new management team’s background, we are positioned very well for today’s challenges and for the future,” Mr. Miller said.