For most people, getting together for the holidays encompasses a friendly gathering full of light conversation. For Susanna Ross and Christina Short, who had become friends while working at Ciba Specialty Chemicals, Thanksgiving was a much more momentous occasion.
While enjoying wine that day, Ms. Ross, her husband Ron Ryavec, Ms. Short and her husband Steve Szewczyk talked about the possibility of entering into the ink business. Their goal was not just to go into business, but to formulate an ink that would be the best on the market. As a result, Ink Big Corporation was born.
Ms. Ross was director of sales for Ciba, and Ms. Short, Ink Big’s president, was the NAFTA new business development manager for Ciba. Mr. Szewczyk, Ink Big’s director of research and technology, had earned his master’s in chemistry, specializing in inks and coatings technology. Mr. Ryavec, the new company’s vice president of sales, was a project manager and plant manager with First Energy for 23 years, but the potential of Ink Big drew him to the new company.
With Ms. Ross and Ms. Short leading the company, Ink Big is among the very few ink companies that qualify as a minority-owned business, which could enable them to receive incentives in the coming years, though it has yet to do so.
“Christina, Steve and I were on the supply side of the ink business,” said Ms. Ross, who is Ink Big’s CEO. “Steve wanted to utilize the most innovative technology in the world to make the best inks in the world.”
Together, they pooled their more than 30 years of experience in pigment, additive and UV cure technology for the ink, coatings and plastics industries to form Ink Big Corporation. Rather than manufacture inks in the traditional way, they decided to focus their efforts on advanced materials technology for the digital graphic arts market. Today, they are the only ink company that manufactures nano-particle size inks.
For Ink Big’s founders, getting into the nano-particle field was a major investment, but they felt it would be the surest way to success.
“You make an investment right off the bat, and it’s not cheap,” said Ms. Ross. “You have to believe in what you are doing.”
Through Chroma-Enhancement Technology, the company’s proprietary technology, its nano-sized solvent-based and UV curable piezo ink jet inks offer tremendous color saturation and cleanliness of shade, and has the added benefit of keeping printheads virtually clog-free. The company uses high performance pigments, and its inks are standardized on Pantone colors, which is a benefit compared to OEM products.
“We knew there was an undercurrent of companies who weren’t satisfied with using the inks supplied by OEMs,” Ms. Ross said. “We were very specific in how we approached the market and worked hard to understand our customers’ needs. Our customers often believe our inks are too good to be true when they first hear about us, but when they see the results they are convinced of our capabilities.”
Ink Big has had a number of notable successes in its first year. Its inks have appeared on promotional wrap-arounds on buses for Adidas and the Los Angeles Marathon, on Chrysler ads and in Las Vegas promotions.
“We have had tremendous growth in both our inks and liquid laminates business, and we are now working with some OEMs in both inks and liquid laminates,” Ms. Ross said. “We continue to get inquiries from potential customers, strategic partners and equipment manufacturers.”
Considering their rapid development and new technologies, Ink Big Corporation is well positioned to continue its ascent in the digital ink industry.