The Ault Award, the most prestigious honor presented by the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM), recognizes a person who has made an outstanding contribution to the progress of the industry.
Michael Murphy, this year’s Ault Award honoree, certainly meets these high standards. A 33-year veteran of the printing ink business, Mr. Murphy, senior vice president and president, North American Inks (NAI) at Sun Chemical, has shown his dedication to the industry time and again through his service to customers and trade associations. That service includes his work with NAPIM, which he served as president from 1999-2001 and for which he was previously recognized with the presentation of the Printing Ink Pioneer Award in 1991.
While Mr. Murphy said he was “overwhelmed” by being selected for the award, his colleagues and peers felt he was a most deserving choice.
“I am very pleased that Mike has been recognized by his peers for his 33 years of service, where he has played a significant role in promoting the use of our products and becoming a leader in the industry,” said Wes Lucas, Sun Chemical’s chairman, president and CEO. “He has had such a remarkable career as a leader.”
“It was a privilege watching Mike receive the Ault Award,” said Harvey Brice, managing director of Superior Printing Ink and the Ault Award honoree in 1998. “He has worked hard for his company and for NAPIM all of these years, and he has been an instrumental part of NAPIM’s success.”
“I’ve always found Mike to be very down to earth,” said Cal Sutphin, president of Braden Sutphin Ink and the 1992 Ault Award honoree. “He is very special and thoughtful. He’s a deserving person.”
Joining the Ink Industry
A graduate of Pace University with a degree in accounting, Mr. Murphy first joined Sun Chemical on the advice of a friend in 1971.
“I was working for GAF in 1971 and was recruited by a friend of a friend to come to Sun Chemical as a financial analyst when the company was headquartered on Third Avenue in Manhattan,” Mr. Murphy said. “I kept taking on additional responsibilities, and was relocated to New Hampshire, where we had our Sta-Hi Systems division manufacturing equipment for newspaper mailrooms.”
“Mike first came to Sun Chemical as a budget analyst, and he rose to the role of budget director,” said Edward Barr, Sun Chemical’s former chairman, president and CEO, who received the Ault Award in 1996. “We saw in him thecapacity to provide leadership, and promoted him to controller at Sta-Hi, one of our smaller subsidiaries. He in turn showed his commitment to us by relocating to New Hampshire.”
After Sun Chemical sold of Sta-Hi, Mr. Murphy returned to the parent company’s General Printing Ink (GPI) division in Northlake, IL as its controller. In the early 1980s, Mr. Murphy earned his MBA from the University of Chicago.
Promotions soon followed his hard work, as Mr. Murphy was named graphic arts group controller; midwest district manager; and GPI regional manager for all branches in the eastern U.S.
“In 1978, Sta-Hi was sold, and I was hired by Massie Odiotti and Gordon MacQuaker to be controller at GPI in Northlake, IL,” Mr. Murphy said. “I reported to Massie, who was our general manager. I then moved into the branch structures and became a regional manager and moved up to responsibility for all branches as vice president of operations in 1989. ”
“After we sold Sta-Hi, Mike was promoted to controller at GPI, where he became a key advisor to Massie Odiotti, GPI’s generalmanager,” Mr. Barr said. “His grasp of our business was so good that we started to move him to outlying management positions to gain further experience, and Mike’s performance led Massie and I to have confidence that he would be a suitable successor to Massie. He has a great deal of ability and energy and works extremely well with our customers.”
By 1990, Mr. Murphy was promoted to corporate vice president, and in 1992 he was named corporate vice president, U.S. operations. In 1997, Mr. Murphy was promoted to senior vice president, and one year later he accepted his current position as senior vice president and president, North American Inks, including Canada and Mexico. As president of NAI, all of the domestic operations, group staff and the sales and marketing functions report to Mr. Murphy.
Aside from his leadership at Sun Chemical, Mr. Murphy has also shared his time and abilities with numerous trade associations. He is a former president and current member of the executive committee for NAPIM as well as a national director. In addition, Mr. Murphy is currently serving on the board of directors of the Gravure Association of America (GAA) as second vice president, a member of the board of trustees for the Gravure Education Foundation (GEF), and is a member of the board of directors of the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA).
“Trade organizations are important,”Mr. Murphy said. “Being where your customers are and understanding what challenges they face and how we can alleviate these challenges is critical.”
As one might expect from Mr. Murphy’s business acumen and willingness to take on difficult tasks, his tenure as president of NAPIM was highlighted by the streamlining of the association’s committee structure.
“We sought to increase active participation in the industry and add greater diversity in our membership through the inclusion of smaller ink companies and with our technical associate members (TAMs), which are essential to our industry,” Mr. Murphy said.
“Mike took a very active interest in NAPIM,” said James Coleman, NAPIM’s executive director. “I appreciated his willingness to become actively involved and to set up a strategic review of our association, which allowed us to streamline our activities. He’s a straightforward, honest guy who tells it like it is.”
Influences Over The Years
Mr. Murphy is thankful to all of the people who have provided guidance over the years.
“Gordon MacQuaker and Massie Odiotti hired me and showed me the ropes,” Mr. Murphy said. “Lou Gaspari had a significant impact on me, and Ed Barr and Henri Dyner were major influences on my career development. I also want to thank the board of directors here at NAPIM, where you can develop a better understanding of your competitors and appreciate who they are and what they do.”
Mr. Murphy is also appreciative of the new leadership team at Sun Chemical, led by Mr. Lucas.
“I would like to thank the people I have worked with at Sun Chemical, and the new leadership at Sun Chemical who are not accepting the status quo,” Mr. Murphy said. “Wes has come to Sun from the outside and has taken a different view of the industry and has challenged the status quo in terms of key focus strategies. That is all very positive.”
Mr. Murphy is particularly thankful for his family. His wife Susan and he have three children: Brian, who is completing his MBA at the University of Chicago; Cara, a buyer for Morton Salt; and Erin, a product manager at Home Products International.
“I have been so blessed with a wonderful family,” Mr. Murphy said. “Our family is so important to Susan and myself, and I spend a lot of time with my family. We like to golf, and in the summer, we like to go to our house on Gull Lake in Michigan.”
Mr. Murphy’s efforts have long benefitted the ink industry, its customers and suppliers alike, and he plans to be a leader in the industry for many years to come. For Mr. Lucas and many other people in the industry, that is good news indeed.
“Mike is a good, honest man with the highest integrity, a man we want to honor in our industry,” said Mr. Lucas. “When you look at the quality of people we recognize for the Ault Award like Howard Flint, Harvey Brice, Gordon MacQuaker, Massie Odiotti and Urban Hirsch and the list goes on, and now Mike Murphy, you can be proud of our industry.”