“I came out of high school and started making ink,” Mr. Beagle said. “It wasn’t by design – I tell the story that 41 years ago, I needed a job and Flint Ink paid $1.25 per hour.”
H. Howard Flint II, company CEO, recalls those early days as well. “The first time I saw Roy, he was wearing white bucks in February in Detroit. Little did I know then what an enormous contribution he would make to Flint Ink, both from a professional and a personal standpoint.”
During the past four decades, Mr. Beagle has moved through the Flint Ink ranks, growing as has the company. Today, he is vice president of global news ink, and he is well respected throughout the newspaper industry. “Over the years, Roy gained the respect of everyone associated with the newspaper industry,” said Mr. Flint. ”In the process, he also helped build Flint Ink’s reputation as an industry leader.”
Mr. Beagle is also well respected in the ink industry, as he was selected to receive the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers’ (NAPIM) Printing Ink Pioneer Award during the recent NAPIM Convention. Although Mr. Beagle was unable to attend due to health concerns, he is extremely grateful for the award.
“It’s very flattering to be recognized for something that you love doing anyway,” Mr. Beagle said.
Joining the Industry
Mr. Beagle began his career at Flint Ink in its weigh-up department before becoming an ink formulator and plant superintendent of Jacksonville.
“In those years I was responsible for production, which also made you responsible for the technical side, and letterpress was pretty simple,” Mr. Beagle said.
Over the years, Mr. Beagle’s responsibilities have increased rapidly, first as area manager for Jacksonville, Miami and Atlanta, then regional manager before taking on North American vice president and general manager for news inks and on to global news ink vice president.
Mr. Beagle’s knowledge of news inks comes from his more than 30 years helping newspaper printers solve problems and improve quality,whether it is for letterpress, cold web offset or flexo. Mr. Beagle guided product development work on offset and flexo news inks at Flint Ink, and has been recognized for his work on flexo inks with R&D people within the newspaper business itself.
In particular, the advent of offset news inks greatly changed the way business operated.
“When offset came about we were forced to scramble to formulate inks,” Mr. Beagle said. “When offset started we sold anywhere from 30 pound kits to 55 gallon drums, but offset came along so fast that we had to design pumps and tankers.”
The appearance of USA Today, with its use of color, influenced the industry as well.
“With the USA Today, the whole industry changed to color, which was a whole new dimension for us,” Mr. Beagle said. “We had to change our equipment so we could deliver color in tank trucks to the newspapers.”
For a time, flexo inks made headway in the news business, as these inks had good no-rub properties.
“Flexo took off very fast but it has hit a plateau,” he said. “We had to deliver it in tanks as well. Flexo did well because of its no-rub properties, but we then developed offset inks that could also be no-rub.”
The development of soy-based offset inks has since become the industry standard.
“Soy has good rub properties and low VOCs, which is ideal for California and the new environmental mandates,” Mr. Beagle said. “Today, a vast percentage of all color inks are soy-based, while soy has a sizable percentage of black inks as well.”
As offset use grew, the need for technical support increased. The Metro Users Group, which consisted of newspaper production people and suppliers, was formed and met annually for a week to discuss technical issues. Mr. Beagle served as formulator/technician advisor for the Metro Users Group when that organization switched from letterpress to offset printing, and continues to advise it today.
“There are a lot of great organizations in the newspaper industry,” Mr. Beagle said. “Perhaps the most helpful was the Metro Users Group, where production people met once a year for a week during the early days of offset.”
Mr. Beagle also has long been involved with the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) and is a frequent speaker at NEXPO, North America’s largest newspaper conference organization.
There have been many changes in the industry and also at Flint Ink, which has grown to $1.4 billion in annual sales.
“Flint Ink has grown from a small midwestern family organization into a global corporation,” Mr. Beagle said. “Back then, each facility made everything. In Jacksonville, we made corrugated, sheetfed and news inks, but we had to become focused. You couldn’t be everything to everyone. Our growth has been unbelievable, but it’s due to the fact that we’ve stayed customer-focused.
“One reason we have been so successful was that we divided ourselves up so that we can focus on a particular product and provide better service,” he added. “We had to do more than sell a pound of ink. I think we were ahead of all of our competition because we had people who could not only make ink but also could help resolve pressroom problems, since most of our tech people came from pressrooms and understood their problems.”
Throughout the years, Mr. Beagle has had a number of key influences from throughout the industry, beginning at Flint Ink.
“David Flint has been a big influence,” Mr. Beagle said. “He and his dad, Edgar, were always more on the newspaper end of the business. The late Ralph Anderson of the St. Pete Times, Gene Bell, CEO of the San Diego Tribune and Jim O’Dell of the Chicago Tribune have been major influences.”
Reaction to Award
Mr. Beagle’s colleagues have nothing but wonderful things to say about him.
David B. Flint, Flint Ink’s executive vice president, accepted Mr. Beagle’s award, and has worked closely with him on the news ink side for four decades.
“Roy has spent his life in the news ink business, and he is well known and well respected at most if not all major newspapers in the country,” Mr. Flint said. “He is well respected by competitors, peers and customers alike. Roy has been heavily involved in NEXPO for 25 years.”
Mr. Flint said that Mr. Beagle’s 41 years of experience in all aspects of the ink business greatly benefits his customers.
“He’s a very knowledgeable person about the industry,” Mr. Flint said. “He is well liked and has a lot of credibility. He came up through Jacksonville, working his way up through the ranks.”
“Roy is a guy who has earned everything he has gotten in the industry, working his way up and collecting a tremendous amount of wisdom,” sad Dave Frescoln, Flint Ink’s president and COO. “He has an incredible amount of judgment about the marketplace.”
William Miller, Flint Ink’s North American president, speaks of Mr. Beagle’s warmth.
“Roy’s demeanor makes him very approachable from the pressroom to the executive suites,” said Mr. Miller. “He makes people feel very comfortable. He’s grown from that plant supervisor to a senior executive at Flint Ink, and has been very responsible for much of our success in the news ink industry.”
“Roy is certainly a legend in the newspaper industry,” said Norm Harbin, vice president, market and technical development at Flint Ink, who has worked with Mr. Beagle for more than 20 years. “He’s a fellow who started from the ground up. He’s a very nice man and is a good bridge between our customers and us because he is so knowledgeable, and he can help our customers reach their goals. I’ve learned a lot about dealing with people by working with Roy.”
Outside of Flint Ink, Mr. Beagle and his wife of 43 years, Sharron, have two children, Dewey and Twila, and three grandchildren, and he enjoys riding his Harley and boating.
Mr. Beagle has no plans for retiring, as he enjoys the international challenges he faces. He is looking forward to continuing to grow Flint Ink’s global business.
“The global scene is a whole new challenge. It's really getting interesting, especially with our new news ink plant in Beijing,” Mr. Beagle said. “If my health holds up, I’ll stay in the business for another five years or so.”
If Mr. Beagle can do for Flint Ink’s international customers what he has in the U.S., they should be in good hands indeed.