When it comes to the sheetfed ink market, there seems to be two schools of thought. One approach, taken by larger ink manufacturers, is to focus on large accounts, and ignore small- and medium-sized printers. The other approach is to concentrate on the smaller and medium-sized printers, providing same day service and custom matches.
For Southern Ink Company, an Irving, TX-based sheetfed and forms ink manufacturer, providing small batches of process, PMS or customized ink is their specialty.
“We go for the areas that the big ink companies don’t want – the 1 pound, 5 pound and 10 pound sizes that are our bread and butter,” said Rick Harden, president of Southern Ink Company. “We go after stuff that other ink companies don’t want. That’s our niche.”
Mr. Harden, who co-owns Southern Ink Company along with his brother Charley, Dave Kuban and Manuel Martinez, started his graphic arts career in printing before joining distributors to set uptheir ink divisions.
“My whole family has been in printing forever,” Mr. Harden said. “I started out as a driver, then become an in-plant for three years before I was hired to start an ink division for a graphic arts supply company.”
After two decades working with distributors, Mr. Harden decided to try his hand at running his own company.
I had been in the ink industry for more than 20 years, and had helped two graphic arts distributors get into the ink industry, and I decided it was time to go out on my own,” Mr. Harden said.
Southern Ink Company has a come a long way in the four years it has been in business. Aside from its headquarters in Irving, the company has a branch in Austin, TX headed by Charley Harden, and Southern Ink is branching out in its capabilities and product lines as well.
“We make sheetfed ink and form inks, and also do a little heatset,” Mr. Harden said. “We are considering going into flexo, as some of our customers are asking us to look at flexo. We mostly do blending, but we are also looking into going into manufacturing. It’s tough, but our business is steadily increasing.”
Providing printing supplies is another area that looks very promising for Southern Ink Company, which has formed a subsidiary, Southern Solutions.
“We just teamed up with Dave Baron of ETV Concepts(Eliminate the Variables), which specializes in fountain solutions and press chemicals, tailored to be compatible with the specific inks being run and designed to eliminate the problems associated with running alkaline papers, such as calcium carbonate contamination, ink emulsification, poor drying, toning and plate blinding,” Mr. Harden said. “More than 90 percent of our chemistry is low VOC, which allows us to give printers products that are environmentally friendly.”
In addition, in conjunction with Graphic Associates, Southern Ink handles printing plates, FPC, and various other items to meet the needs of the printers.
By being able to offer a full range of services for printers, Mr. Harden said that Southern Ink can provide excellent service and expertise to their customers.
“We are full service, so we can go to the printer and know that our press additives work with our ink,” Mr. Harden said. “If a printer calls us with a problem, we can pinpoint the answer for them. At Southern Ink, we are always seeking out ways to make your job easier.”