Harold Johnston Receives SGIA's Parmele Award

By Kerry Pianoforte, Ink World Associate Editor | October 29, 2009

Highest honor in the screen printing and graphic imaging industry

Harold Johnston, a long-time employee at Nazdar, has received this year’s Howard Parmele Award, the highest honor in the screen printing and graphic imaging industry, from the Specialty Graphics Imaging Association (SGIA) in recognition of his lifetime of contributions and achievements.

Initiated in 1955, the Howard Parmele Award is named for one of SGIA’s founders and typically given to one person each year. The recipient must be someone who has made outstanding contributions to the screen printing and graphic imaging industry over an extended period of time.

Mr. Johnston certainly fits the bill. In fact, you could say he was born into the screen printing industry: he was introduced to screen printing at an early age by his father, one of the innovators in four-color process screen printing. Mr. Johnston has spent his entire career working and promoting screen printing.

Mr. Johnston’s support and devotion to promoting screen printing and graphic imaging through the development of applications and industry innovations are well documented. He has also given much of his time and talents to training many young people entering the business over the years, who have greatly benefited from his mentoring.

From 1956-1962, Mr. Johnston served as production manager of a company specializing in outdoor advertising and paper billboards. A pioneer of four-color process printing, the company produced its own color separations for printing sheetfed reflective images up to 20 x 40 feet in final size.

Between 1963 and 1971, he was employed in technical sales for General Research/General Formulations, where his key accomplishment was coordinating the setup to manufacture cylinder presses in Japan—which later became know as Sakauri presses.

During the decade of 1972-1982, he worked as sales manager and later executive vice president for KC Coatings, where he was instrumental in the development, training and first sales conversions of screen printers from solvent-based inks to UV inks.

From 1983-1993, Mr. Johnston became sales manager, and then marketing manger, for Midwest Coatings and later Sericol USA. At Sericol he developed sales strategies that moved Sericol into a leading position of manufacturing and selling UV inks to screen printers across the U.S.

Mr. Johnston served as vice president for market development at Nazdar from 1993 to 2002. In this position, he held a range of positions that significantly influenced the direction Nazdar has taken in the 21st century. His focus once again was on cultivating the UV ink market, which had been a small portion of Nazdar’s ink sales and is now the company’s dominant manufactured product.

Throughout his many years in the industry, Mr. Johnston has certainly witnessed many changes. According to Mr. Johnston, “the major changes that have occurred are from a processing standpoint, including the ability to now create picture reproducible images via a computer, to the wide variety of substrates/media that are available to print on. All of this has expanded the growth of printing along with the ability to color decorate almost any surface.”

While working in a variety of management positions for nearly 40 years, Mr. Johnston served as a leader and role model to people in the screen printing business. He’s written technical articles for the industry’s premier publications and provided technical assistance for screen printing courses at the University of Missouri at Kansas City.

Mr. Johnston attributes his success to building solid relationships and to a genuine interest in the work he does. 

“My keys to success have always centered around the people I have worked with through the years,” said Mr. Johnston. “I always tried to put the customer and co-workers first. Honesty and sincerity have been my guidelines. When you enjoy what you do and have fun with the people you work with, you will build a trust and confidence that yields success.”

Mr. Johnston’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. Widely respected by his colleagues for his vast knowledge of the industry and ability to share this information to a wide audience, his colleagues fondly recall their time with him.

“Harold has the unique ability to understand the complex dynamics of the market and also the gift to translate those dynamics into everyday business language,” said Tom Mulveon, Nazdar controller. “His experience gives him the baseline knowledge to recognize trends at their inception rather than their expiration.”

According to Jay Thorp, marketing manager, Nazdar Mr. Johnston possesses a positive attitude, is a big thinker and is a consummate speaker. “He always focused on performance in our products, services and his work. He has a knack for spotting the unrefined jewels of opportunity. He is a screen print encyclopedia and Rolodex.”

“I find it fascinating that Harold Johnston was so involved with the printing industry and was consumed in all the details of printing and the printers themselves,” said Bruce Ridge, marketing director of training, Nazdar. “He knew so much about the business you would think that was all he spent his time on. But no, he was dedicated to his family, his church, his community, fishing, and he had an obsession with fast cars. What an interesting guy.”

An active 30-year member of the SGIA, Mr. Johnston has served on the association’s board of directors and on many of its committees. In addition, he’s been a regular contributor to the Screen Printing Technical Foundation and was elected by his peers to the Academy of Screen Printing Technology.

After serving the screen printing industry for 46 years, Harold Johnston retired in December 2002. His outstanding service and knowledge of the people and processes involved in this market are, understandably, irreplaceable.

Announcement of SGIA’s 2003 Parmele Award was made at the association’s 55th Annual Convention and Exposition in Atlanta, GA.

“Harold was an ideal choice for the Parmele Award because of his leadership, experience and overall vision for all aspects of our industry,” said Tom Francis, marketing manager, Nazdar. “Harold’s positive, can-do attitude has been addictive and was always the perfect approach for the many challenges that this industry faced.”

Even after retirement, Mr. Johnston has no plans to leave the industry that he has been involved with for the better part of 40 years. Mr. Johnston will serve as executive director for a newly-formed association.

“About five months ago a group of manufacturers from the screen, digital and pad printing segments of our market asked me to help them form an association of manufacturers for North America. We now have an association called NASMA which is North American Specialty Printing Manufacturers Association,” Mr. Johnston said.

Related Printing Inks: