The National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM) has but a few awards to honor people for their achievements. Begun in 1956, the Printing Ink Pioneer Award recognizes long-term members of the industry who have faithfully served their companies and NAPIM. The Technical Achievement Award (TAA), begun in 1982, honors an ink maker who has made an outstanding technical contribution to the printing ink industry.
Andrew Matthews receives NAPIM’s Printing Ink Pioneer Award from NAPIM president Dave Frescoln, CEO of Flint Group, during NAPIM’s annual convention.
It was deserving recognition for Mr. Matthews, whose contributions to the ink industry extend well beyond the innovations he pioneered on the heatset ink side.
Joining the Ink Industry
At the urgings of his father, Mr. Matthews began his ink career at the age of 16 with Western Ink Company, a small ink company in southwest England.
“When I was in high school in 1973, my father worked at a large printing company, and they had an ink department. They had a job open, and I said I’d take a look,” Mr. Matthews recalled. “It was called Western Printing Ink, part of Purnell & Sons Printing.”
While he gained experience in the ink industry, Mr. Matthews also continued his studies. He earned his certificate in chemistry from Bristol Polytechnic University with added studies in instrumental analysis.
“I went to college on the day release plan, and the company paid everything,” Mr. Matthews said. “I was very fortunate to be with a company that did that. I received my ordinary national certificate in sciences, and after two more years, I earned my chemistry degree.”
Mr. Matthews enjoyed his 11 years at Western Printing Ink, but the company’s time came to an end when it was acquired by Robert Maxwell’s BPCC, which in turn sold the company off to Inmont. Inmont then effectively shut the company down, transferring some employees to its other divisions.
Fortunately for Mr. Matthews, he had a way out. In 1980, Western Ink had entered into a technical agreement with Flint Ink, and he became a key person in transferring technology back and forth between the two companies.
“I made a call to Flint Ink, and joined their company,” Mr. Matthews said.
His move to the U.S. didn’t occur until six months later due to legal issues, but even while waiting for a work visa, Mr. Matthews wanted to keep his hands in the ink industry.
“I spent six months waiting for a visa, so I helped start up an ink company with some of the Western Printing Ink people which would become Mirage Inks,” Mr. Matthews recalled.
Heatset Ink Accomplishments
Once Mr. Matthews was able to come to the U.S., Flint Ink put his talents to use in its fledgling heatset ink department, which proved to be an ideal fit.
“In July 1984, I finally got my work visa, and joined Flint Ink as a Chemist 2 in the heatset lab,” Mr. Matthews said. “Flint wasn’t known for heatset inks, so it was the perfect time to join as our heatset group began to grow tremendously.When I started at Flint Ink, we had six people in the heatset lab; by the mid-1990s, we had three or four technical groups. It was a great time to be at an ink company.”
At the time, heatset was growing rapidly, and with it came technological challenges, and Mr. Matthews made numerous contributions to heatset ink technology.He initiated the application of rotational viscometry in place of the Laray falling rod viscometer for heatset inks, and was a leader in the development of image analysis methodology for determination of solid mottle.
Andrew and Nicola Matthews during the 2006 NAPIM Convention.
“The first thing that was a huge issue was when alcohol solutions were eliminated out of fountain solutions,” Mr. Matthews noted. “Ink companies had a large problem with that. Then in 1992, the M3000 press was introduced, and we had to make sure our ink met the demands of the higher speeds – up to 3,000 feet per minute. We were able to develop more robust resin systems, which would pay off for other ink systems.”
Bill Miller, president, Flint Group, North America, said that Mr. Matthews' accomplishments were critical to Flint Group’s rise in the heatset ink business.
“We are fortunate to have Andrew on our team,” said Mr. Miller. “There’s no question that he has played and will continue to play a major role in helping Flint Group maintain our position as an industry leader in the heatset market. I’d go so far as to say we wouldn’t be where we are today without Andrew.”
When Flint Ink reorganized in 1991, Mr. Matthews was promoted to technical director, moving in 1999 from the labs to the company’s publication division, which includes both heatset and publication gravure.
“My responsibilities have changed, and I am now in the publication division, although heatset remains my focus,” Mr. Matthews said.
In addition to his efforts at Flint Group, Mr. Matthews has worked with trade associations, from moderating NPIRI Technical Conference sessions to speaking at Web Offset Association conferences.
Mr. Matthews’ colleagues agree that his receiving the Pioneer and Technical Achievement Awards is well deserved.
“Andrew’s a great friend and mentor, and someone who I can always depend on,” said Diane Parisi, Flint Group’s vice president, supply chain management. “He’s incredibly professional in everything he does, and he doesn’t let his ego drive him. He is the kind of guy who, when he gets involved in something, he goes at it 100 percent, and you’ll always get an honest assessment of the situation. There is not a more honest or dependable person I know.”
“Andrew’s personal commitment to the ink industry and Flint Group has been outstanding,” said Mike Green, vice president and general manager, news and publication ink division, Flint Group, North America. “His unique technical and business skill set has been extremely valuable for the company and the publication heatset division for more than 20 years. He has a clear vision of the current technical challenges and opportunities within the publication heatset industry. Andrew continues to create new ideas to face these challenges and take advantage of the new opportunities.”
Mr. Matthews said he is thankful for all of the help he has received over the years. When speaking of influences, Mr. Matthews pointed to Gerry Burdall, the managing director at Western Printing Ink, and Robert Savageau and Dr. Bertram Bates of Flint Ink.
“Bob Savageau and Dr. Bates were my mentors when I came over to the States,” he said.
Outside of work, Mr. Matthews enjoys family life; he and his wife of 22 years, Nicola, have three children: Danielle, Jordan and Eden. In addition, Mr. Matthews still plays soccer, “even at the ripe old age of 49,” he jokes. He added that he intends to continue his work in the ink industry.
“My wife says I’ll never be able to quit,” Mr. Matthews said. “I have no interest in retiring. I still love the business. If you’re in the ink business, it kind of gets in your blood.”