The printing ink industry has many successful family-owned businesses, and J.M. Fry Printing Inks, a Richmond, VA-based specialist in water-based and offset inks, is among the most successful.
In the case of J.M. Fry Printing Inks, family means a whole lot more than Bill, Jim and Robert Hodges, who lead the company as president, COO and CEO, respectively.
“Our business is not just three brothers,” said Bill Hodges. “We have a great staff working with us, and our personnel are the reason why we are successful. We constantly encourage innovation and continually stress employee education and training in order to stay ahead of industry trends.”
Since the company was founded in 1936 by Justin M. Fry, J.M. Fry has focused on formulating superior inks and providing excellent service for its customers. Mr. Fry had concentrated his company’s efforts on the oil-based letterpress and offset markets, but after his death in the early 1950s, the company began to decline.
When Alvin Hodges acquired the company, that situation changed. Mr. Hodges had been a partner in the Southern Printing Ink Company. When that company was sold to Sinclair & Valentine, he began looking for the right opportunity to own and operate his own business.
“J.M. Fry’s business became available, and our dad acquired it in 1966,” Mr. Hodges said. “Our dad was interested in manufacturing water-based packaging inks and had developed many new water-based ink products for a variety of packaging modes in the middle to late-’60s.”
The company has grown rapidly in the packaging area, manufacturing water-based inks for film, foil, paper and plastic, as well as some offset inks and specialty formulations for worldwide tobacco sales. J.M. Fry’s inks are used on a wide range of products, from multi-wall bags, gift wrap, corrugated boxes and displays, folding carton and flexible packaging. J.M. Fry has now developed a new line of inks for high line anilox roll use in the tag and label market.
Customer service and superior quality are the areas where J.M. Fry stands out. The company becomes its customers’ business partner, providing training to achieve maximum benefits from their inks, anticipating their needs for new products and service and responding immediately to their requests. Their diligently built and protected reputation has been developed by thoroughly servicing these products with an expert technical support group.
“Our niche is service and quality,” Mr. Hodges said. “We provide consistent high quality products through the use of cutting-edge technology and by developing new products for the latest industry trends. We will custom manufacture whatever our customers want.
“We are extremely service oriented,” Mr. Hodges added. “J.M. Fry is successful because of superior technical support. We have a philosophy of never saying no to any challenge presented by our customers. We will provide products to our customer at any time, and we provide the same high level of support to all our accounts, large and small.”
J.M. Fry has always based its success on finding new ways to produce better products using the most current equipment and research methods. As J.M. Fry’s business has expanded, so did its production capabilities. The company has its state-of-the-art production and research facility in Richmond, and to best serve its customers, has opened operations in Atlanta, GA; Tampa, FL; Monroe, LA; East Brunswick, NJ; Nashville, TN; and Canton, MA.
Mr. Hodges said that his father’s influence remains very strong on the company, and that the guiding principal on which the company was founded has remained the same.
“What we learned from our dad was invaluable. The most important value was that your word is your bond,” Mr. Hodges said. “He not only taught us the technical side of the ink business, whether it was formulating, quality control or color matching, but also the importance of servicing customers.”
It is that devotion to customers that has been the hallmark of J.M. Fry Printing Inks for the past 60 years, and will continue to do so well into the future.