For suppliers, having a background in their customers’ business is always a benefit. It gives them a clear understanding of the challenges their customer faces, and a knowledge of how their processes work.
For Eugene Mitchell, president of Spectrum Inks & Coatings, having had the opportunity to work on both the packaging and publication gravure sides of the printing and ink industries has given him a foundation for providing the products and services printers need.
“It’s been a great help starting out on the printing side,” Mr. Mitchell said. “It has given me a perspective on what packaging printers need. It’s worked out very well.”
Mr. Mitchell’s career in the industry has been a lengthy one. He began his career in 1962 with R. R. Donnelley & Sons in Chicago. He worked as a quality control technician and in product testing for Alcoa’s labels, giving him a background in packaging.
In 1965, he joined the Packaging Ink Corporation, where he was technical director until 1968, when he and his wife, Patricia, both went to Cuneo Press, a Chicago-based publication printer. Mr. Mitchell was manager of the roto ink division of Cuneo Press, and Mrs. Mitchell worked in the lab. After Mr. Mitchell left Cuneo Press, he worked for a while at Sun Chemical GPI as the manager for the publication gravure labs.
In 1975, he joined Sinclair & Valentine in technical sales and service until 1986, when he decided it was time to form his own company. Along with his brother Ray, Mr. Mitchell formed Spectrum Inks & Coatings, and brought his knowledge of packaging gravure to his customers. Mrs. Mitchell, who had left Cuneo and worked with Ink Masters, Midwest Ink and Graphic Color, would later join Spectrum Inks.
Today, Spectrum Inks & Coatings very much remains a family-run operation. Patricia Mitchell serves as laboratory manager, and their son Jeffrey is an officer, working on technical sales. The Mitchells also have a daughter, Pamela, who is a research biologist with Lilly Research Laboratory.
Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell have also taken on an active role in the Chicago Printing Ink Production Club (CPIPC), having both served as officers and president. Last month, the CPIPC recognized Mr. Mitchell’s service to the club, naming him Ink Maker of the Year.
Mr. Mitchell’s extensive knowledge of gravure printing allows Spectrum Inks to best serve their customers.
“Quality research and service is essential,” Mr. Mitchell said. “Once I visit our customers and see what presses they are using and the speeds they are running at, we can tailor-make our ink. We don’t try to use the same system for everyone. We do a lot of development and concept work for our customers, and we provide them with ideas on how to create unique packaging that will help them compete. We can turn on a dime. It’s not unusual for us to take an order, manufacture and ship it on the same day.”
For Mr. Mitchell, solving the challenges facing packaging printing make the industry enjoyable.
“I really love this industry,” Mr. Mitchell said. “There are so many variables on the packaging side, and it’s much more interesting, and working with customers to solve problems has been rewarding.”