Every once in a while, a company emerges with an innovative approach that may change the way business is done. David Lemaster, president of the recently-launched Performance Inks, Palatine, IL, believes his new company has developed just such an approach to the ink business.
“We work directly with the resin and pigment manufacturers to develop formulas that will perform at a high level on the substrates our customers are printing on,” Mr. Lemaster said. “This enables us to produce finished products that have unique capabilities and consistency.
“This relationship with the resin and pigment manufacturers enables us to take advantage of their knowledge and SPC controls to deliver a higher quality product with better consistency,” Mr. Lemaster added. “Experience has proven that simplifying the process and eliminating unneeded steps improves quality and reduces costs.”
Performance Inks is offering a full line of sheetfed inks, including conventional petroleum, low VOC vegetable-based, hybrid and UV inks. It offers a full line of Pantone bases, metallic, fluorescent, waxes and drier, as well as varnishes and coatings for ink train and coater applications. Mr. Lemaster added that the company is also doing groundbreaking work on 10-micron stochastic printing.
“You have to be full-service,” Mr. Lemaster said. “Very few printers want to buy their inks piecemeal.”
Performance Inks has different market strategies for different market segments. For example, larger customers and in plant facilities are one area where Mr. Lemaster believes the company can thrive.
“We are offering Pantone base dispensers that come integrated with X-Rite spectrophotometer on the front end,” Mr. Lemaster said. “We calibrate the X-Rite system with our Pantone bases and load them into the X-Rite database. The substrates to be printed are then calibrated so the final PMS color will be accurate on the printed stock to .8 DE. This reduces the need for drawdowns and for experimental batches and adjustments that drive the demand for labor.
“Typically, printers are paying a 30 percent premium for in plant labor,” Mr. Lemaster added. “We’ve gotten a lot of interest from the in plant market for this product integrated to our Pantone bases.”
The workflow and technology is significantly simplified and accurate. Any employee of the printer can scan the paper surface and tell the machine what PMS color and quantity they need. The machine adjusts the formula for the substrate and outputs the formula to 1/10th of gram accuracy. Mr. Lemaster said that this is an enormous improvement over hand mixes, and allows for repeatability every time that job is reproduced.
“Through our system, customers can cut their ink costs by 30 percent just by reducing the labor associated with the ink room,” Mr. Lemaster said. “That will put about 1 percent back to the net earnings of the printing company. We’re hiring specialists to run these projects, and our project managers are the best in the industry.”
In another innovation, Performance Inks has launched its “Get Ink, Get Miles Program,” partnering with Alaska Airlines and its associates, including American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Northwest Airlines, British Airways, KLM and Qantas as well as hotel and car rental partners, to offer one mile per dollar spent with Performance Inks.
Mr. Lemaster said that suppliers and customers alike appreciate the Performance Inks system, which bodes well for the company’s ultimate success.
“We think it’s a great model,” Mr. Lemaster said. “When you compress the supply chain, everyone wins, the supplier and the buyer. The companies that we work with really love the way we do business.”
The Lemaster name should sound familiar to printing industry veterans. His father, Milton Lemaster, owns Air Systems in Dallas. While working with his father, Mr. Lemaster assisted in the development of two patented products, oscillating form rollers that eliminate ghosting as well as the Air Curtin that reduces ink and water emulsification. Ronnie Lemaster owned Lemaster Litho Supply prior to the Flint Ink acquisition.
Mr. Lemaster was the first sales person to join Creo in 1993. He worked in a variety of positions for Creo through 1999, then assisted in the roll-up of PrintCafe in 2000. It was clear to Mr. Lemaster that the ink business needed a more efficient supply chain, a supply chain that would bring bottom-line enrichment to both the buyer and the seller. When PrintCafe was sold to EFI, Mr. Lemaster turned his attention back to ink and to that new approach.