Ink Inc

Printers Ink & Supply’s Innovations Pave Way for Success

By David Savastano, Ink World Editor | 10.30.09

More than 50 years ago, Buford G. Sirles, a longtime printer, decided that he had seen enough of printing ink to know that he could make a better product. After a short stint with Sinclair & Valentine, Mr. Sirles was ready to take the next step. With that, Printers Ink & Supply opened its doors on Sept. 21, 1954.

Now, as Printers Ink and Supply celebrates its 50th anniversary, it’s easy to see that Mr. Sirles’ vision has come true. During its five decades of serving printers, the company has been at the forefront in the development of then-revolutionary ink systems, including modern rubber-based and acrylic-based inks. Today, Thomas Glaser, Mr. Sirles’ grandson and president of Printers Ink & Supply, is both reflecting on the past and looking ahead to more developments, always with an eye toward his grandfather’s goal of formulating a better ink for customers.

“My grandfather had been a printer for more than 30 years, and he felt he could make a better ink,” Mr. Glaser said. “We developed most of today’s modern inks for the small press area.”

Through most of the 1970s and into the 1980s, Printers Ink & Supply was guided by Mr. Sirles’ partner, Glenn Brasfield. In 1987, Mr. Glaser was selected to lead the company into the future.

“Working at Printers Ink was my summer job since I was 15,” Mr. Glaser said. “Becoming more involved with the company seemed like the thing I needed to do.”

Along the way, Printers Ink and Supply has developed a wide variety of innovative inks. For example, in 1965, Printers Ink launched its Impreset rubber-based ink, a stay open ink which is very forgiving on press and increases mileage performance. In 1985, the company developed its Action acrylic-based ink, formulated to give more printing versatility by allowing printers to not only run colors but also coated and uncoated paper stocks without having to change inks every time they change jobs.

On the oil-based side, the company has developed its Speed Master 9000 series, a high quality, high gloss, press-ready ink. Speed Master 9000 was formulated for the old and new duplicator plate systems like the Silver Master poly plate. Ultima, another true oil-based ink, is a stay open, high gloss, press-ready ink that is also laser safe. It lays down smoothly and sets exceptionally fast.

The company has also developed an environmentally-friendly Soy Offset Series (SOS). Mr. Glaser said that SOS performs as good as the traditional oil-based inks have in the past. They are formulated to set and dry fast on all coated, uncoated and recycled paper stocks and dry with a high gloss, brilliant finish.

The company prides itself on service, customizing its inks for customers’ applications. In particular, Mr. Glaser gives a great deal of credit to Herbert Payne, Printers Ink’s vice president, for his lab and color matching expertise.

“Herbert has been involved in all of the lab work and color matching,” Mr. Glaser said. “Not only can he match color better than anyone I have seen, but he can formulate an offset ink to accommodate almost any special need a customer might have. Today, Printers Ink makes a wide variety of high quality large press products to meet the extreme demands of the modern commercial printer. For example, we make an ink that can be used on a duplicator press and that can also be used on a 40 inch six color Heidelberg press at 16,000 IPH. It’s one ink that truly does it all and reduces the number of inventory items our customers have to keep in stock.”

The company’s approach to innovation and service has won it a loyal following throughout the U.S. in the duplicator market, and has even earned it a strong international reputation. Mr. Glaser said that the company sells its products all over the U.S. and internationally direct and through a network of independent and national store chains. “Regionally and locally we work directly with the mid-sized and large printing customers,” Mr. Glaser said.

As the company celebrates its first 50 years, Mr. Glaser sees new opportunities ahead, although the company will make sure that its gains don’t come at the expense of its quality. “We’re about to expand into ink jet ink and toner through a partnership, and we’re considering other possibilities,” he said. “We still do what we have always done well, and we don’t want to jeopardize that.”

This approach sounds like an excellent formula for success in the future.

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