When an organization creates a new award, there is literally no limit on who can be chosen. Invariably, the man or woman selected as that first honoree will have made tremendous contributions to the organization.
When the Tag and Label Manufacturers Institute announced that it was initiating its first Supplier of the Year Award during its fall converter meeting, there were many deserving people who could have been selected for the honor. That Mike Buystedt, director of market development at Akzo Nobel Inks North America, was chosen as the recipient speaks volumes about his character and his dedication to the industry.
“Receiving the TLMI Supplier of the Year Award was a surprise and was humbling,” Mr. Buystedt said. “I knew that the award had just been announced and that somebody would be honored, but I had no idea that it would be me.”
Mr. Buystedt’s modesty is sincere, but industry professionals say that he was the perfect first choice for the Supplier of the Year Award.
“Mike’s award is extremely well deserved,” said Frank Sablone, TLMI’s director. “I can’t speak highly enough about him. When I arrived at TLMI, I was told by a number of people how involved and dedicated Mike is, and he has jumped in and taken on any responsibility he’s been asked. Mike has been instrumental in growing our technical meetings. One of the things that is amazing with Mike is that he and his wife are so well liked.”
“Mike is the consummate professional,” said Suzanne Zaccone, owner, president and CEO of Graphic Solutions and a former TLMI president. “He does what he says on time, he’s honest and fair, is totally committed to the industry, and he has a tremendous networking system that can help you in virtually any aspect of the industry. If there is something that I need to get done in an organization, Mike would be the perfect guy to do it.”
“Mike is a good, hard working guy, and one of the most dedicated people when it comes to advancing our industry,” said Steve Lee, vice president of Rotometrics. “It was a well-deserved award.”
“Mike is our faceto the industry, and he brings a huge amount of credibility to us,” said Dave Hiserodt, Akzo Nobel Inks’ president.“From an applications standpoint, I’d be surprised if there was a better person in the industry. We’re lucky to have him.”
Joining the Ink Industry
Printing ink had long been part of the Buystedt family, as Mr. Buystedt’s mother worked at Lewis Roberts and Louis Werneke for many years.
“My mother worked in the ink industry for 35 years, first for Lewis Roberts and then for Lou Werneke after he bought the Lewis Roberts branch in Minneapolis,” Mr. Buystedt said. “As a result, I knew the business. After attending Dunwoody College in 1978, I went into the ink industry.”
Mr. Buystedt joined Louis Werneke, which was a small company at the time. As a result, he had the opportunity to try his hand at virtually all of the aspects of the ink industry.
“Werneke was a very small company,” Mr. Buystedt said. “There were four employees when I started, which gave me the opportunity to grow in the business, beginning in the lab and then in production.”
Peter Mulheran, president and CEO of SICPA North America, worked with Mr. Buystedt in those early days at Werneke. He enjoyed presenting Mr. Buystedt with the Supplier of the Year Award.
“I’ve known Mike for 27 years, since we worked in production together at Werneke,” said Mr. Mulheran. “He’s a solid, determined, tenacious guy.”
Werneke Ink focused on the tag and label market, and introduced water-based inks into the segment. When Akzo Nobel acquired Werneke Ink in 1998, it was a good fit.
“Werneke was the first company to offer high-quality water-based inks to the label industry,” Mr. Buystedt said. “It put us on the map, and we grew to a $30 million company when we were sold to Akzo Nobel in 1998. We were focused on the label industry, as is Akzo Nobel Inks in the U.S.
“Akzo Nobel Inks is a good organization,” Mr. Buystedt said. “A lot of people I worked with at Werneke are still with our organization. We’re now an employee-owned company and I bought in, which means I’m a proud owner of our company.”
TLMI and Trade Associations
Mr. Buystedt’s longstanding support of TLMI earned him the recognition of his colleagues. Akzo Nobel Inks/ Werneke Ink has been a member of TLMI for 25 years. Mr. Buystedt has served on the TLMI Board of Directors, as chair of the technical and awards committees, as a judge for the TLMI and the World Label Awards, and currently serves as the TLMI World Awards liaison.
“TLMI is a great organization, a nice mix of senior management and technical people, and some of my best friends in the industry are members of TLMI,” Mr. Buystedt said. “TLMI is small enough so it is focused on tag and label, and it’s focused enough so that converters can talk with other converters and can benchmark their performance.”
In addition to his involvement in the TLMI, Mr. Buystedt has volunteered his time toward many other industry activities and associations, including the Flexographic Technical Association (FTA), Printing Industries of Minnesota (PIM), International Card Manufacturers Association (ICMA), Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) and Gravure Association of America (GAA). He frequently shares his industry knowledge by speaking at many industry conferences and events throughout the year, including FTA Forums, CMM International, and Labelexpo.
In 2003, Mr. Buystedt co-chaired the joint TLMI/FTA Technical Conference. Prior to that, Mr. Buystedt was a key leader in expanding TLMI’s efforts to encompassing technical conferences as well.
“He’s been involved in TLMI since 1986, and was a frequent speaker at the FTA and the FFTA Forums,” Mr. Mulheran said. “He really positioned TLMI as a leader in technical conferences. The attendance since he’s been chairman has been outstanding.”
Mr. Buystedt said that being associated with trade organizations offers tremendous benefits.
“Personally, I like to learn all I can about the industry,” he said. “Networking is also a great benefit as you get to know great people in the industry. It gives your company a lot of exposure, and our company has always believed in being members of trade associations.”
Today, Mr. Buystedt’s uses all of his knowledge and contacts to help the industry, and label and narrow web executives know he will be there to help out when he is called upon.
“Mike’s a very likable guy who probably knows more about ink for the narrow web and label industry than just about anybody,” said John Pedroli, group vice president to U.S. operations at CCL Label. “Everybody likes him. He’s always volunteering to help wherever he is needed. When we have technical issues we always call on Mike, because he’ll solve our problems.”
In addition to his extensive industry involvement, he is involved in the technical, marketing and business aspects of Akzo Nobel Inks, whether it is developing new opportunities or mentoring his colleagues.
“I’m in a great position,” he said. “Akzo Nobel Inks utilizes my experience and networking capabilities. I am always looking at new opportunities for our company, both in the U.S. and globally. I also have customer responsibilities, and I believe that you have to put customers first.”
“Mike’s contribution to our overall strategy is crucial and a provides a platform for continued success in the narrow web industry,” said Ewald Draaijer, vice president, narrow web BU, Akzo Nobel Inks. “His balanced view of customer and company requirements plus his visionary mindset makes him a great asset to our company.”
“Mike has an entrepreneurial spirit,” Mr. Hiserodt said. “He can take a hint of a market trend, and quickly determine who the players are and find what the opportunities are for us.”
Mr. Buystedt’s dedication to his family and industry has been influenced by many people over the years, beginning with his parents.
“My parents were a great influence on me as they were both very hard workers,” he said. “I worked with Lou Werneke for 25 years. He had enough faith in me and allowed me to grow, appointing me as operations manager and giving me great people to work with who helped me succeed. Many of my mentors have been in these trade organizations, leaders such as Brian and Mike Dowling, Bob Closs, Don Weber, George Noah, Tom Colbery and Dick Schwartz.”
Mr. Buystedt is also a dedicated family man, and his wife of 25 years, Donnell, is very much a major part of his success. Together, they have raised three children: Tasha, a regional sales manager for a hearing aid company; Nick, who’s studying to be an aerospace engineer at the University of Minnesota; and Doug, who is attending North Hennepin Community College.
“My career would not be possible without my wife Donnell’s understanding and support,” Mr. Buystedt said.
Outside of work, Mr. Buystedt enjoys the outdoors.
“We have a small place in northern Wisconsin where we can go fishing and canoeing, and I also like going canoeing in the boundary waters of Minnesota,” he said.
Mr. Buystedt anticipates continuing his work in the narrow web and label industries for many years to come.
“I’m 46, and I don’t plan on leaving the industry,” he said.
His plans to remain a fixture in the business is certainly good news for his friends in the industry.