NAPIM Convention Examines Raw Materials, Pricing

By David Savastano, Ink World Editor | 10.25.05

The National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers' recent annual convention focused on profitability and raw material prices and availability.

Bob Bowers of Bowers Printing Ink, seated second from left, the 2005 Ault Award honoree, is joined by fellow Ault Award recipients after his selection. Joining Mr. Bowers are, standing from left, Don Morrison, Cal Sutphin of Braden Sutphin Ink, Ron Baker of US Ink and H. Howard Flint II of Flint Ink; and seated, from left, Stu Graham, Mr. Bowers, Harvey Brice of Superior Printing Ink and Urban Hirsch III of Ink Systems.

When it comes to hot topics for the ink industry, raw materials and overall profitability are right at the top of the list. With that in mind, it was fitting that the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM) focused on these issues during its Annual Convention, which was titled “A Foundation for Profitable Growth.”

The convention, held April 7-11 at Hyatt Regency Coconut Point in Bonita Springs, FL, featured a variety of important talks, including the annual State of the Industry Report, talks on profitability and pricing and a panel of raw materials that encompassed the pressing issues of pricing and availability.

Convention Highlights
After the convention opened with a lively keynote speech by Terry Bowden, ABC sports analyst and former head football coach at Auburn, the State of the Industry Report was presented by Jim Leitch, CEO of Braden Sutphin Ink, and Rick Tolin, global sales manager, specialty chemicals for Noveon, two members of the Management Information Committee.

For the most part, the information presented was not optimistic, particularly in terms of profitability: earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) was 3.3 percent, down from 4.5 percent in 2003, and return on net assets (RONA) declined to 7.4 percent, compared to 9.8 percent in 2003 and 15 percent in 2002.

The members of the panel on raw material pricing and availability were, from left, consultant Stuart Heyes; David Ash of Rohm & Haas; moderator Alan Kalmikoff of Keim-Additec; Thomas Stark of Bayer MaterialScience; Tom Gwizdalski of Magie Bros.; Steve Korte of Cargill; and Fred Dulin of Eastman Chemical.

“These are disappointing results,” Mr. Leitch said. “Based on the improving sales performance, I was surprised earnings weren’t better. Profit is not a bad word, but recent trends seem to make it look that way.”

Overall, NAPIM reported that ink sales were up 0.7 percent in 2004, with volume down 0.2 percent. Offset and flexo showed higher gains, while gravure lost ground.

Raw material prices accounted for 56 percent of operating expenses in 2004, a dramatic 3 percent above the 53 percent raw materials accounted for in 2003.

Raw material pricing and availability were the focus of a panel moderated by Alan Kalmikoff of Keim-Additec Surface USA. The panel consisted of Stuart Heyes, a consultant, who discussed titanium dioxide; Tom Gwizdalski of Magie Bros., whose topic was hydrocarbon oils; David Ash of Rohm & Haas, who discussed acrylic acid; Thomas Stark of Bayer MaterialScience, who talked about nitrocellulose; Steve Korte of Cargill, who covered vegetable oils; and Fred Dulin of Eastman Chemical, who addressed solvents.

Each of the speakers gave comprehensive talks on their businesses, and gave a glimpse of what is to come. One area of emphasis was on the relatively small use of these materials by ink companies compared to other industries, and the impact that has on the market. For example, ink usage makes up 3 percent of the titanium dioxide market.

The 2005 Printing Ink Pioneers are, standing from left, Jeff Koppelman of Gans Ink & Supply, and right, Winfried Gleue of Hostmann-Steinberg; and seated from left, Duane Ness of Flint Ink, Fred Lamb of INX International Ink and Larry Lepore of US Ink. Cal Sutphin of Braden Sutphin Ink, standing in the center, accepted the Pioneer Award for Rick Hall, who received the honor posthumously. From left, ANI Printing Ink’s Peter and Rita Koivula and Dave and Barb Hiserodt.

“Titanium dioxide is an important raw material for ink companies, but ink is relatively less important to the titanium dioxide industry,” Mr. Heyes said.

Another critical factor is that key raw material suppliers are running at near capacity. Titanium dioxide is running at 95 percent capacity. Mr. Dulin said that ethylene is running at more than 90 percent capacity.

All of this leads to higher prices. Mr. Dulin reported that propane is $0.33/gal in the 1990s to $0.74 in 2004 and $0.90/gal today, and ethylene went from an average of $0.23 in the 1990s to $0.40 this year, an all-time high.

Mr. Gwizdalski’s discussion about hydrocarbon oils drove these points home. With crude oil prices rising rapidly, ink companies will have to compete with the fuel oil market for distillates. Meanwhile, the demand for napthenic oil for rubber by tire companies is likely to jump dramatically, which will impact news ink manufacturers.

  Carl Hirsch, Kim Libby and Urban Hirsch III of Ink Systems.

Acrylic acid has been hard hit in terms of pricing and availability, and Mr. Ash showed the reasons behind it, although he noted that planned expansions may help ease the pressure in a few years.

Nitrocellulose is another topic of concern, and Mr. Stark called 2004 “chaotic.” He illustrated the plant closings and consolidations that have impacted supply, eliminating domestic production in the U.S., and showed the price pressure on key raw materials.

In his talk on vegetable oils, Mr. Korte spoke of the shortage caused by the Canadian flax harvest as having been the driver for the linseed oil difficulties last year, and said that the market is expected to correct itself.

Flint Ink’s Dave Frescoln, left, who is NAPIM’s new president, Linda Welty and H. Howard Flint II. From left, Sun Chemical’s Michael Griem, Mark Levin, Wes Lucas and Richard Pettifor.

“NAPIM deserves kudos for asking this group to discuss the present-day situation with us and drive home their message,” Mr. Kalmikoff said of the panel. “Raw materials are a key component to the basic building blocks involved in profitable growth, and I was very proud to serve as moderator.”

Among the other discussions at the convention were “Playing to Win in a Changing World,” by Jim Bearden of CSP, and “The Logic of Profitable Pricing,” by Joe Zale of Strategic Pricing Group.

Outside of the meetings, there were also the annual golf and tennis tournaments and a variety of special programs, including a sailing trip and a visit to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and Lake Trafford. The convention closed with the Suppliers Party, “A Night at the Races,” and concluded with a Habitat for Humanity project.

From left, INX International Ink’s Peggy and Rick Westrom, Carol Neumann, George Polasik,Charles Weinholzer, Fred and Kathy Lamb, Yoshiko and Hiroshi Ota, and Kitty and Rick Clendenning. From left, Mitch and Teresa Baker and Jerry and Margaret Mosley of American Inks & Coatings.

Perhaps the most important highlight is the annual black-tie Ault Award Dinner honoring ink leaders for their years of service. This year’s Ault Award honoree is Bob Bowers of Bowers Ink Company.

From left, Color Resolutions International’s George Sickinger, Michelle Ko, and Cindy and John Edelbrock.
CDR Pigments & Dispersions’ Rucker Wickline, left, and Craig Foster.
From left, Nancy and Pat Carlisle of Joules Angstrom U.V. Printing Inks and John and Patti Jilek of Ink Solutions. From left, Rick and Caryn Tolin, Rich and Debbie Bradley and Patrick and Cindy Maloney of Noveon.
From left, Dave Klebine and Wanda Zachary, Jeanne and Tom Rogers and Kris and Larry Bykerk of Apollo Colors. Tak O’Haru, center, of Toyo Ink America and General Press Colors’ Rick Kuebel, left, and Andy Grabacki.
Willis and Heather Reese of Noveon and Scott Reese of Premier Ink. Cal and Sandy Sutphin of Braden Sutphin Ink and Aileen and Ralph Marshall of Colmar.

In addition, NAPIM honored seven industry leaders with Printing Ink Pioneer Awards: Winfried Gleue, president and CEO of Hostmann-Steinberg; Jeff Koppelman president of Gans Ink & Supply and outgoing NAPIM president; Fred Lamb, national account manager for INX International Ink; Larry Lepore, vice president of operations for US Ink; Duane Ness, director of environmental health and safety for Flint Ink; and, posthumously, Rick Hall, former director of technical services for Braden Sutphin Ink.

All told, NAPIM officials were pleased with the convention.

“Our turnout was strong, and the feedback on the program and the facility was very positive,” said Jim Coleman, NAPIM’s executive director. “It was a nice combination of raw material pressure on profitability and the mechanism of seeking value on our products, something that is sorely needed.”

Next year’s NAPIM Convention will be held at La Costa Resort & Spa, Carlsbad, CA from March 18-22. For more information, call NAPIM at (732) 855-1525 or through the web at www.napim.org.

Enjoying ‘A Day at the Races’
“A Day at the Races,” the theme for NAPIM’s Suppliers’ Party, featured a Pinewood Derby. The Derby was a huge success, as seen by the more than 30 entries at left. Elementis Specialties won the finals against Lawter International. Above, James and Debby Bowler and Lynda and Craig Baudendistel of Elementis Specialties show the winning car, while, below, Hemant and Rebecca Dandekar and Chris Halvorsen show their second-place vehicle.