New Leaders in the Ink Industry

By David Savastano, Ink World Editor | 09.12.05

New executives from inside and outside the industry are having an impact on the ink business.

Years ago, the ink industry was fairly insular, with changes occurring within companies. However, as the industry began to face new challenges, leading companies began to bring in new talent, whether it was from parent companies or from outside the industry altogether.

Here, in alphabetical order, is a look at four of the new leaders in the U.S. ink industry in the past two years, and what they are seeing from their perspective.

Dr. David Hill

Dr. David C. Hill, senior VP, business improvement and chief technology officer, Sun Chemical
When Wes Lucas was brought in to become president and CEO of Sun Chemical in 2001, he decided his new company needed a top-flight technologist to take its next step forward. It took a great deal of persuasion, but ultimately Mr. Lucas was able to convince Dr. David Hill to come to Sun Chemical.

“I was considering retiring or teaching, and I was working with MIT and Georgia Tech to develop an approach to teaching productivity tools to engineering students when Wes started calling,” Dr. Hill said. “I knew Wes for several years and he is extremely personable and persistent, which explains why I went to Sun.” “David Hill’s reputation at AlliedSignal was the best technologist and CEO of a specialty chemical company,” said Mr. Lucas, Sun Chemical’s chairman, president and CEO, of Dr. Hill, whose honors include the 1978 AWS Award for Research and the 1988 ASM Materials Achievement Award for his work with amorphous metals. “He has a great broad-based approach and uses technology to achieve business goals.”

Dr. Hill’s background is extensive. He began his career with Union Carbide in 1970 as a research engineer. In 1976, he was appointed assistant director of research for the Linde Division. In 1978, he joined Occidental Research as director, exploratory and new venture research. In 1980, he became director, advanced materials research with Allied Chemical, where he was promoted over the next 17 years to CTO, vice president/general manager, amorphous metals; president, fibers; president, advanced materials; and president, specialty chemicals.

Dr. Hill met Mr. Lucas at AlliedSignal, and they quickly formed an effective team.

“I was president of the advanced materials division when Wes joined the company,” Dr. Hill said. “Wes moved in as my office mate, and we worked together closely. He worked on strategy while I was managing businesses. Our goal was to figure out how to do more with what we had. We looked at strategies, acquisitions and divestments, and decided to focus on building a specialty chemicals business. We made an enabling acquisition from Hoechst and formed a specialty chemicals business.”

From 1998 until 2001, Dr. Hill was president, engineered materials for JM Huber Corporation.

“By 1997, I was ready to do something else, and I wanted to apply what I had learned to a smaller company,” Dr. Hill said. “JM Huber had a great work ethic and value system. It is a company that cares for its employees.”

At Sun Chemical, Dr. Hill is responsible for operational excellence; Presidential Quality; and technology and product portfolio. Dr. Hill works closely with functional and divisional operations and technology teams to identify opportunities, set priorities, build capabilities and measure results. To do so, Sun Chemical has implemented Six Sigma.

“Some units of Sun are great today and others need improvement,” Dr. Hill said. “Our goal is to advance all components. We’re caught between customers’ ever-increasing expectations around price and the reality of manufacturing. To be successful, you have to become more efficient, and the approach we took was Six Sigma.” Improving capacity is one key to improving competitiveness.

“Since coming to Sun, my focus has been on deploying quality and productivity tools,” Dr. Hill said. “You have to unlock increased capacity. We established a concept called entitlement and made maps of all of our processes. We determined that we could add 50 percent capacity if our system worked perfectly, without errors such as downtime or out of spec raw materials.”

Dr. Hill said initial Six Sigma efforts have paid off for Sun Chemical.

“We have 250 people trained as specialists, 150-plus projects and nearly $30 million in benefits,” he said. “We’re anxious to extend our Six Sigma productivity tools to our customers and suppliers, and are already doing some projects with both. It can create real value, but you have to have the will to change. Now we are focusing on technology and determining what printing will be like in 2010.”

Safety is one of Sun Chemical’s four major initiatives, and Dr. Hill is working to make Sun Chemical the safest workplace in the industry.

“Safety has been a passion of mine all of my life,” Dr. Hill said. “My personal belief is that no one should perform a task that our leadership wouldn’t do themselves. A year ago, we had a 3.5 percent rate of lost workdays per 200,000 man-hours. Now it’s cut in half, and we intend to drive it to the point where we are an accident-free workplace. Other companies have done better, and we’re going to make this happen. Every Sun employee should go home as healthy as they came in.”

People development is also an essential initiative. “People get things done,” Dr. Hill said. “Our strength as an organization will come about when we as a company help our people achieve their ambitions and expectations and gain skills and capabilities.”

Dr. Hill is happy he joined Sun Chemical and the ink industry.

“I’m glad I joined the ink industry,” Dr. Hill said. “I enjoy the challenge and I like the people in the graphic arts industry.”

Rudi Lenz

Rudi Lenz, senior vice president and CFO, Sun Chemical
When Mr. Lucas came to Sun Chemical, he immediately turned to some key figures to join him as he took over the ink industry’s largest company. Rudi Lenz is one such person.

Mr. Lenz has 26 years of financial and general management experience working in multiple cultures across a broad range of industries, including aerospace, automotive, specialty chemicals, fibers, plastics and advanced materials. He began his career in accounting and tax with the German Internal Revenue Service in 1976. In 1980, he joined Garrett Corporation as an accounting manager in Frankfurt, Germany, and ultimately was promoted to CFO of Garrett GmbH.

Following the acquisitions that formed AlliedSignal Corporation, Mr. Lenz became the CFO for AlliedSignal Germany’s aerospace, automotive, specialty chemicals, plastics and engineered materials businesses, a $1 billion business. He then was promoted to the position of vice president, finance – aerospace services, AlliedSignal, a $4 billion business in Phoenix, AZ. In 1997, Mr. Lenz joined Fairchild Dornier Corporation as executive vice president and CFO. He was promoted to president and CEO of Fairchild Aircraft, an $800 million business, in January 2001, and resigned in February 2002 to join Mr. Lucas at Sun Chemical.

“Rudi is world-class, probably one of the best CFOs I have ever worked with,” said Mr. Lucas. “He’s a great businessman and he’s my go-to person in terms of the budget, a great team builder.”

“I liked Wes while I was at AlliedSignal, and I felt it was a good industry,” Mr. Lenz said. “It’s a tough market, and everyone is looking for price reductions and better service.”

To better compete in the market, Mr. Lenz is leading the efforts to install a series of key initiatives at Sun Chemical.

“We are focusing on four goals: safety, people development, productivity/Six Sigma and customer value system,” Mr. Lenz said. “In terms of safety, we are thoroughly inspecting our plants, and we can see that our incidence rate is going down. We really are cautious. For people development, we have to take an inventory of the people we have. World-class people create a world-class company, and we have to provide the proper training to get from good to great. Traditionally, a lot of companies don’t take much time with performance reviews, but by doing so, these companies aren’t providing value to its people. We help people to set achievable, proper goals.”

Six Sigma is a crucial part of Sun Chemical’s approach, and having been part of AlliedSignal, Mr. Lenz is a firm believer in it.

“Larry Bossidy brought a lot of these initiatives to AlliedSignal from GE, and all of us received Six Sigma training,” Mr. Lenz said. “Because of Six Sigma, we have seen changes in our productivity, as costs come down and quality goes up. When you undergo training, you have to develop a project, which ultimately has a snowball effect. The buzz in our company is tremendous, and everyone wants to be next. Once you get the low-hanging fruit, you can find so many opportunities for shared services and synergies. We can use Six Sigma tools to bring value to our customers.”

Ultimately, Mr. Lenz knows that bringing value to customers is the only way a company can survive.

“You have to look at the total cost of print, and also listen to customers,” he said. “We need all 12,500 of us to think about our customers and how we can do better. If we can do these four initiatives well, it will bring us from good to great.”

Hiroshi Ota

Hiroshi Ota, chairman of the board for INX International and president of INX Group, Ltd.
Not everyone who has been named to a key leadership position is from outside the ink industry. At INX International, Hiroshi Ota has returned to the U.S. as chairman of the board for INX International and president of INX Group, Ltd., the U.S. holding company of Sakata INX.

In his 37-year career with Sakata INX, Mr. Ota has become a leading expert in ink technology and pioneered the development of performance enhancing raw materials, including polyurethane resins for gravure ink, water-based polymers for corrugated paper ink and dispersing agents for offset ink. He was also instrumental in developing several successful INX products and U.S. patents while serving as technical director of research and development for INX in the mid-1990s. A 30-year veteran of R&D, Mr. Ota was promoted to Sakata INX’s board of directors seven years ago, and was responsible for the company’s corporate planning division.

“Mr. Ota has experience with the U.S. market since he spent three years here at INX working with us in the mid-1990s,” said Rick Clendenning, who was named CEO of INX International in addition to his previous role as its president. “For a worldwide company, he understands the importance of a strong U.S. business unit. Because he has been a high-level senior managing director of Sakata for some time, he has a great knowledge of not only our business in the U.S., but understands the global strategies of our parent company. He has great leadership and people skills, with a strong passion for the business and the long-term success of the Sakata INX family of companies and strong loyalty to the company, our employees and our customers.”

“He brings a strong background in business planning that will assist in execution of our global strategy,” added Bryce Kristo, the company’s new CFO and vice president of business development.

Mr. Ota’s background as an R&D chemist has led to breakthrough technologies, such as the Lamiall laminating inks.

“As a chemist, I dedicated most of my time to research on polymers for printing ink and achieved success in developing important raw materials for ink,” Mr. Ota said. “My accomplishments now serve as the foundation of today’s Sakata INX’s strength in ink technology. Among my developments, success in developing Lamiall polyurethane used for laminating ink brought a strategic product to the Sakata group. It was sold all over the world and has received high evaluation from the market. When we initiated it, there was almost no business in laminating ink, however, it has grown up a successful market, and is one of the success stories of the Sakata group.”

Mr. Clendenning noted that Mr. Ota’s technical expertise will also benefit INX.

“Because of Mr. Ota’s technical background in his long distinguished career with Sakata, he understands our technical capabilities worldwide and has a great understanding of our product lines and the needs of our customers,” Mr. Clendenning said.

Mr. Ota is enjoying his new responsibilities in the U.S.

“As a core business unit of the Sakata group, INX International has a big influence on the management of the whole group,” Mr. Ota said. “Therefore, the management of INX International must be completely harmonized with the management policies of the group. Upon considering how to achieve the goals together, I will utilize my operating experience and management skills acquired in the corporate planning division. Moreover, Sakata INX is a strong technical oriented company, and its ink technology has received high evaluation in Japan. I believe that promoting and sharing the technical resources will lead to growth of INX International. I will then also utilize my experience and technical knowledge.”

Mr. Ota said that INX’s strength in digital technologies positions the company well for the future.

“The purpose of the printing industry is to help people communicate,” Mr. Ota said. “As such, the printing industry would not decline because of the continued need to communicate. However, there are big changes in this printing industry due to the progress of IT revolution, digitization and rise of electronic media. A future task on INX International is how to offer services adapted to those changes.

“Fortunately, Sakata INX is one of a few companies which has strength in the proposal of the total solution covering the whole printing process from pre-press, press to post-press. This is a key challenge. The duty we, the management are undertaking to the whole group is to build the foundation for the company’s next 100 years following Sakata INX’s more than a century of history.”

Mr. Ota said he will work to ensure the benefit of his colleagues at INX and the company’s customers alike.

“I will make INX International a company for which people can work actively and productively,” Mr. Ota said. “This is my true goal as a chairman of the board for INX International. Fortunately, INX International has many talented people with whom we can share the goals: the experienced salesmen, engineer experts in the market and employees who pursue productivity in manufacturing. Each group functions different, but everyone has the same goals. It is my duty to utilize these talented people’s skills and achieve the best results out of it. This is a key for me to see what is ahead of us.

“INX International is a company that acts while always considering what customer satisfaction is,” he said. “Although we all know that customers are asking for lower cost ink today, INX International knows that what customers are really looking for is reduction in cost covering the whole process of their work. Poor quality ink could cause delays in printing jobs and defective printed matters. Minimizing the waste is what customers are truly asking for.

“The example of the success of Lamiall is telling this fact as it is,” he noted. “Although Lamiall is not an inexpensive ink, it is easy to use and highly efficient. Customers who consider cost of the whole process choose to buy Lamiall. INX International will continue to serve better and be committed to customer satisfaction with high quality of service.”

Linda Welty

Linda Welty, chief operating officer, Flint Ink
In July 2003, Flint Ink reached outside the ink industry to hire Linda Welty as its new chief operating officer, responsible for the company’s ink manufacturing operations on a global basis.

Prior to joining Flint Ink, Ms. Welty served as group president and general manager of H.B. Fuller’s Full-Valu and Specialty Group. An adhesives manufacturer, the company provides a diverse range of products to the consumer, construction and durable goods markets. The Full-Valu group integrates products, services and knowledge to create comprehensive solutions for its customers. She also chaired the board of HBF Ventures, H.B. Fuller’s venture capital arm.

Before joining Fuller, Ms. Welty was with Clariant, based in Frankfurt, Germany. She also held a variety of positions at Hoechst-Celanese, including a term overseeing commodity chemical sales in Latin America and Canada.

“Linda brings a range of experience to Flint Ink. She has demonstrated her leadership capabilities in a business with a very similar manufacturing and operations make-up and has extensive knowledge of supply chain management,” said Dave Frescoln, Flint Ink’s president. “Equally important are her international background – in both Europe and Latin America – and her understanding of the value of work force diversity. These are valuable qualities for a company like Flint Ink, which is growing globally and expanding its international reach.”

“Flint Ink’s global reach and its position as a leader in the industry were what attracted me to the company,” Ms. Welty said. “It’s an excellent company with a strong reputation in the industry, a reputation established through a long, proud history by an excellent group of people.”

Ms. Welty said that the experience she gained at H.B. Fuller has prepared her for the ink industry’s own set of challenges.

“The challenges faced today by the ink industry are not unlike those confronting the adhesives industry and other specialty businesses,” Ms. Welty said. “Today’s customers require competitive pricing coupled with world-class, robust products and services. The pressure our customers experience today in their markets demands that we adapt and change so that we can help our customers succeed. I’m no stranger to leading change in global organizations. Global competition is a reality today in the ink industry. Global experience is a real asset given the challenges of our industry today.”

Ms. Welty said that globalization is essential to Flint Ink’s growth, as is the need to become more than just a supplier of ink to customers.

“While we are a leader in many of the markets and geographies we serve, we have some gaps to close to be equally recognized around the world in all markets,” said Ms. Welty. “Further, with all the alternatives to print available today, it’s clear that we must become more than an ink company. Two good examples of our commitment to become more are Jetrion and Precisia. Others will need to follow. In our traditional markets, the goal is to drive a real focus on what our customer truly values. Over the years, we’ve introduced a lot of complexity to this business, complexity which neither we nor our customers can afford. We must work with our customers to find creative ways to deliver what they need and value so that both they and we are more successful.”

In particular, Ms. Welty sees great potential in the digital marketplace that Jetrion, Flint Ink’s new digital subsidiary, and Precisia, the company’s new conductive ink subsidiary, are serving.

“Helping customers take advantage of digital technologies will provide some key opportunities for us and open some new markets,” she said. “The new businesses we’ve started up this year, Jetrion and Precisia, are not product-centric companies. They have products, yes, but more importantly, these businesses are built to deliver value based upon a core of accumulated knowledge and capabilities. The businesses are designed to offer that knowledge, coupled with essential products and services, to create value and efficiency, whether it’s cost-effectively adding more variable content to a printed piece of advertising or constructing a cost-effective RFID device.”

Having joined Flint Ink in July, Ms. Welty has had nearly six months to watch the industry and gather some impressions, particularly of the needs of Flint Ink’s customers.

“These are tough times for many of our customers,” Ms. Welty said. “While the global economy in general is strengthening, the demand for print has been and will continue to be affected by the Internet and other media channels. At the same time, print is shifting geographically from more mature markets to lower cost, emerging markets. This will continue to bring about some important shifts in the ink industry and further consolidation.

“We and the industry in general have built our businesses around the notion that customized products requiring specialized service is the way to create value. With the challenges facing our customers, I believe we have to review that notion and see if there’s not a better way to address their needs.”