2007 Companies to Watch
Editor’s Note: There are a growing number of companies in the printing ink industry that deserve attention. Here, in alphabetical order, are a few of the companies that deserve notice:
Braden Sutphin Ink Co.
3650 E. 93rd St.
Cleveland, OH 44105
Phone: (216) 271-2300
Fax: (216) 271-0515
Sales: $41.7 million.
Major Products: Sheetfed offset, web heatset and non-heatset, waterless, duplicator, soy inks, UV curable offset and water-based flexo.
Key Personnel: Ted Zelek, chairman; Jim Leitch, CEO; Cal Sutphin, president; Diego Perez-Stable, controller; Ray Loomis, national sales and marketing manager; Tim Hennessey, Cleveland plant manager; Dan Martin, Carlisle, OH general manager; Bob Nowak, general manager, flexo operations; Mark Castillo, technical service manager.
Number of Employees: 220.
Operating Facilities: 14 including two in Cleveland, OH; Detroit, MI; Baltimore, MD-Washington, D.C.; Pittsburgh, PA; Columbus, OH; Indianapolis, IN; Carlisle, OH; Buffalo, NY; Newark, NJ; Richmond, VA; Sacramento, CA; Milwaukee, WI; and Phoenix, AZ.
“On an overall basis, with the acquisition of Mix & Match, we showed a growth in sales,” said Jim Leitch, CEO of Braden Sutphin Ink. “Our pounds were up in web and flexo. Selling price increases have helped, although our margins have been squeezed significantly in the past year.”
On Jan. 1, 2006, Braden Sutphin Ink acquired Mix & Match Ink Corp. and Pro-Line Printing Ink Corp., distributors of inks for printers and dealers. The acquisition gave Braden Sutphin a needed presence in the southwestern U.S. as well as new products.
The addition of Mix & Match has brought to us a new geographic market, more exposure in the southwest U.S. as well as some new products,” Mr. Leitch noted. “We can also supplement their product line with ours. For us, it has accomplished the strategic goals we set out to achieve.”
Long a sheetfed ink specialist, Braden Sutphin has been emphasizing the flexo ink market in recent years, and has slowly begun to carve out a position for itself. The past year witnessed further growth in flexo for the company.
“We had a very good year in our water-based line, as we are enjoying much greater acceptance of our All Substrates product line in the marketplace,” Mr. Leitch said.
In addition to the All Substrates line, the company has been developing new products for its other markets, including UV and sheetfed inks.
“As the market has accepted and adapted to UV presses, we’ve been able to grow our DiamondCure product area,” Mr. Leitch said. “We’re also continuing to evolve our extended skin time sheetfed inks.”
Raw material pricing remains a concern for the ink industry, and Braden Sutphin Ink is no exception. “Our biggest concerns have been on the raw material side, especially early in 2006,” Mr. Leitch noted. “It really has impacted ink companies in general, and we are no different.”
At a time when some ink companies are trying to reduce service in order to cut costs, Braden Sutphin has chosen instead to increase its technical support.
“We are continuing to put emphasis on our technical service, and we added a key technical service person in the Mid-Atlantic area,” Mr. Leitch said. “We are continuing to emphasize technical service to differentiate us.”
Color Resolutions International LLC
575 Quality Blvd.
Fairfield, OH 45014
Phone: (513) 552-7200
Fax: (513) 552-7141
Sales: $47 million (Ink World estimate).
Major Products: Water-based flexo, solvent-based gravure, UV-curable and specialty inks for the packaging market.
Key Personnel: George Sickinger, chairman, CEO and president; Rick Gray, CFO; John Edelbrock, VP of manufacturing; Paul Fulton, VP of technical services; Joe Schlinkert, director of technology; Hixon Boyd, VP, field operations, South; Dave Barker, VP, field operations, North; Jim Distler, VP, specialty products.
Number of Employees: 121.
Operating Facilities: Manufacturing plant in Fairfield, OH, and 16 blending sites.
“2006 was better than last year, although our sales were relatively flat due to our decision to walk away from some commodity business where pricing was further deteriorating,” said George Sickinger, CRI’s chairman, CEO and president. “We are focusing on better margin business and niches where we haven’t explored. Flexible packaging, narrow web and fine graphics such as POP in corrugated have been good growth areas for us.”
Successfully moving into new markets takes time, as a company needs to develop products and earn a reputation. In the past few years, CRI has laid a strong foundation in various packaging markets and is making gains.
“Under the best of circumstances, it’s a long selling cycle, because in a new business you have to be able to show that you can solve problems for your customers,” Mr. Sickinger said. “It can take six months to a full year and half, but once you show you can help a customer and provide real value, you build a strong relationship.”
When CRI was formed in 2000, corrugated was its core market, but the economic changes that have impacted manufacturing in the U.S. have cut into the corrugated market as well.
“The drain on manufacturing has hit the corrugated market hardest,” Mr. Sickinger noted. “A recent article showed that the corrugated market grew by 0.9 percent, mostly in the West Coast and parts of the Midwest, while declining in the Southeast. We saw a lot of our accounts being off last year, and that reinforces that we have to expand our efforts outside of paper packaging. Although we still see a lot of room for us in this market as the demand for fine graphics grows.”
In 2005, CRI followed some of its customers who have moved operations to Mexico by establishing local service facilities and technical service capability. Mr. Sickinger said that the initial results have been promising.
“Mexico looks like an even brighter spot for us in 2007,” he said. “Our Mexico operations are coming along fairly well, and we have added some more infrastructure.”
Higher raw material prices remain a challenge, although CRI chose to institute targeted increases forward to customers. “It’s a serious concern,” Mr. Sickinger said. “We faced raw material price increases in early 2006, a few more at the end of the year and now at the beginning of 2007. We did not choose to put through wholesale across-the-board increases, but only targeted increases where necessary. Customers usually respond favorably if you take the time to explain the need properly.”
Mr. Sickinger said that CRI’s strategic plan to grow sales and income faster while diversifying into more niches is propelling the company forward.
“I believe we will have a good year,” Mr. Sickinger said. “We expect sales and income to have significant increases this year. We have made an investment into new product lines and it’s paying off.”
Environmental Inks & Coatings
1 Quality Products Road
Morganton, NC 28655
Phone: (800) 368-4657; (828) 433-1922
Fax: (828) 438-9513
Sales: $46 million (Ink World estimate).
Major Products: Water-based flexo, gravure, UV flexo, UV rotary screen and UV letterpress inks, and overprint varnishes.
Key Personnel: Edward G. Redman, chairman of the board; Paul Schroeder, president and CEO; Thomas A. Galas, CFO; Richard J. Gloeckler, VP/director of sales North America; Kenneth Keathley, director of marketing; Kirk Franklin, VP technology.
Number of Employees: 230.
Comments: Environmental Inks & Coatings (EIC) had a strong year in 2006, with the company showing growth in UV products as well as in international sales.
Mr. Schroeder said that EIC’s customers are also faring well. “Overall our customers are growing and several are adding new equipment,” Mr. Schroeder noted. “Also, a few accounts are growing by acquisition which has led to improved sales.”
UV inks is an increasingly sizable market for EIC.
“UV has increased nearly 30 percent for EIC over 2005 sales,” Mr. Schroeder said. “Additionally, we are gaining position in water-based gravure and wide web flexo areas when there is a need for improved service. Lastly, EIC is participating in the heat shrinkable film market with growth in both UV and water-based systems.”
EIC’s strength continues to be the narrow web label market, and to better serve the market, EIC created new branch operations in Minneapolis, MN and in Toronto, Canada.
EIC has taken steps to reduce the impact of higher raw material costs while maintaining and even improving quality, all of which has made its customers happy.
“Due to the ongoing pressure from raw material suppliers, we have continued to streamline our supply chain,” Mr. Schroeder noted. “We have trimmed product lines as well as raw materials. There were important investments made in upgrading our packaging operation and our software systems, especially in the color management area. Our customers are extremely pleased with these improvements.
“EIC has expanded our supplier base to include more materials from offshore,” Mr. Schroeder added. “We have done this without compromising quality; in fact, many situations have led to improved product features. Additionally we are manufacturing more intermediates in our own shop than last year.”
In a key personnel move, EIC added Thomas Galas as the new CFO of the company. Mr. Galas has background in the ink industry, and has worked for several other major corporations, notably pulp and paper manufacturers.
Overall, EIC is expanding both geographically and organically with products in niche applications or areas requiring a high level of customer service.
EIC anticipates further growth in 2007, driven by new products and greater brand awareness.
“Growth is always at the forefront of our business strategy,” Mr. Schroeder said. “Through product innovation and greater brand awareness in the market, we are expanding our UV business as well as growing our range in water-based chemistries. Additionally we are continuing efforts to improve efficiency and reduce supply chain costs. We are manufacturing a broader range of intermediates internally in order to achieve competitive quality and cost.”
Fluid Ink Technology
5360 N. Commerce Ave.
Moorpark, CA 93021
Phone: (888) 855-0033; (805) 378-0033
Fax: (805) 378-0044
Sales: $25 million.
Major Products: Flexo and rotogravure inks for wide web paper and film, flexible packaging, narrow web tag and label, envelope and folding carton segments.
Key Personnel: Jim Newkirk, president; Russell Greenhouse, vice president; Jim Hsu, CFO; Jim Chestnut, national technical applications specialist; Jay Bosco, technical director for solvent products; Craig Roberts, technical director for water products; Adrian Barajas, production manager; Tony Magana, assistant operations manager; Terrill Newkirk, national materials manager; Scott Carey, narrow web market manager; Rick Pastor, national envelope market manager; Whittney Kimball, office manager.
Number of Employees: 93.
Operating Facilities: Moorpark, CA; South Plainfield, NJ.
Comments: Fluid Ink Technologies, a packaging ink specialist, enjoyed a solid year in 2006.
The company is active in Asia, having set up a strategic alliance for sales and sourcing many of its key raw materials. “Economic conditions have forced us to seek quality product with dependable supply on a global scale,” Mr. Greenhouse noted.
In a key personnel move, Fluid Ink Technology president Jim Newkirk brought on Jim Hsu as the CFO. Mr. Hsu holds an MBA and he is fluent in Mandarin.
“With Mr. Hsu as the new CFO, I will be able to focus on the sales and Russell can concentrate on technical matters,” Mr. Newkirk said.
Mr. Greenhouse said that 2007 should be another excellent year, as Fluid Ink looks to continue to grow and to expand its national presence.
“We anticipate good growth in the coming year, with excellent opportunities in the works,” Mr. Greenhouse said. “We’re looking for a larger facility on the East Coast, where we are experiencing significant growth in solvent inks.”
Mr. Newkirk recognizes the vital technical service aspect of Fluid Ink Technology. He works closely with Jim Chestnut in expanding the service partnership between Fluid Ink’s ink and its customer’s press department with Mr. Chestnut’s role in technical applications.
“We are expecting great things from this supportive application strategy and its value-added aspect with our product in the press department,” Mr. Newkirk observed. “The variables encountered between the ink, the press and the print make it necessary for us to look at all influencing factors, helping our customers offer the finest flexo graphics and maximum press uptime.” He added, “Fluid Ink is the ‘David’ among the ‘Goliaths’ in the ink market place.”
Gans Ink & Supply Co., Inc.
1441 Boyd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90033
Phone: (323) 264-2200
Fax: (323) 264-2916
Sales: $24.5 million.
Major Products: Offset sheetfed, UV and specialty inks, blankets and supplies.
Key Personnel: Jeff Koppelman, president; Bryan Eisenberger, VP of manufacturing.
Number of Employees: 180.
Operating Facilities: 11.
Comments: For Gans Ink & Supply, 2006 marked a time of change after the passing of Robert J. Gans, long-time graphic arts industry leader and founder of Gans Ink and Supply Co., in February 2006.
Gans Ink & Supply has successfully developed niche products to go along with its core commercial sheetfed business, and the company had a solid year in 2006. As a result, Mr. Koppelman is optimistic heading into 2007.
“I’m very much looking forward to 2007 and beyond,” Mr. Koppelman said.
Graphic Sciences Inc.
7515 NE Ambassador Place, Suite L
Portland, OR 97220
Phone: (888) 546-4465
Fax: (503) 460-0225
Sales: $30 million.
Major Products: Water-based flexographic inks and coatings, UV inks and coatings, water gravure inks and inkjet inks.
Key Personnel: Kent Wishart, president; Cindy Hill, VP and CFO; Jeff Ashburn, VP, sales and marketing; Danny Ramos, VP, service operations; Ed Caskey, VP, primary manufacturing; Qingjiang Zhou, chief technical officer; Matt Fassler, director of corporate services.
Number of Employees: 115.
Operating Facilities: 12 in the U.S., with joint ventures in Canada and Mexico. Graphic Sciences also has approximately 20 in-plants.
Comments: Graphic Sciences enjoyed a positive year in 2006 in regards to sales growth and overall financial performance. The company’s core packaging ink markets saw moderate growth in 2006, with the trend continuing into 2007. Significant growth potential is also seen in expansion markets related to narrow web and digital applications.
“The majority of our existing customer base has shown moderate business growth over the past year. Like us, many customers have focused on internal processes, capturing manufacturing efficiencies to offset rising material costs and somewhat sluggish business conditions,” said Jeff Ashburn, VP of sales and marketing for Graphic Sciences.
The company’s improved performance in 2006, combined with the operational changes now in place, have Graphic Sciences looking ahead to a successful year in 2007.
“Graphic Sciences is positioned for growth in 2007 and beyond in our core and expansion markets,” Mr. Ashburn said. “Our focused efforts to improve manufacturing and organizational efficiencies have created a solid foundation from which we are prepared to meet the challenges our industry faces.”
Handschy Industries, LLC
120 25th Avenue
Phone: (708) 547-9400
Fax: (708) 547-4774
Sales: $41 million (Ink World estimate).
Major Products: Full line of sheetfed products including waterless; web offset heatset and coldset; water-based and solvent-based flexo and coatings; gravure inks; UV and EB inks; magnetic inks; varnishes and alkyds.
Key Personnel: Chuck Graham, president; Rod Cartwright, general manager, Bellwood; Kyle Hermanny, general manager, Riverdale; Pat Ruhland, general manager, Menomonee Falls, John Chu, technical director.
Number of Employees: 150.
Operating Facilities: Five including Riverdale Industries, a wholly-owned subsidiary outside Chicago that manufactures liquid inks and varnishes. Other locations include Menomonee Falls, WI; Bellwood, IL; Indianapolis, IN; and Grand Rapids, MI.
Comments: It was a year of dramatic change for Handschy Industries, LLC. The company welcomed back Chuck Graham as president, and was acquired along with its parent company, Field Container, by Texas Pacific Group (TPG), a private equity firm, in August 2006.
To say that Altivity Packaging is a force in the consumer packaging industry is an understatement. Altivity Packaging has approximately 8,300 employees at six boxboard mills and 59 consumer packaging facilities in North America, ranging from folding carton, multiwall and specialty bag packaging, flexible packaging, laminations and label businesses.
However, what might be overlooked in all of this is the potentially huge role of Handschy Industries, Field Containers’ ink, coatings and varnish manufacturing subsidiary. In 2005, Handschy Industries supplied more than 90 percent of Field Containers’ ink requirements in addition to supplying outside accounts.
Because of Field Containers’ needs, Handschy has developed a wide range of inks, coatings and varnishes, including sheetfed, heatset, flexo, gravure and energy curable products.
Now, Handschy Industries is in an ideal position to be able to supply the entire Altivity system ink and coatings needs as well, thus ensuring high quality supply.
For Mr. Graham, the opportunity to return to Handschy as well as his ink manufacturing roots is an exciting one. He had previously enjoyed an 11-year career with Handschy, serving as president before leaving to join Conley Publishing Group, Beaver Dam, WI, in 2001. For the past five years, Mr. Graham has been with Conley Publishing Group, most recently as its chief operating officer.
“It’s an exciting opportunity,” he said. “It’s a privilege to be asked to come back.”
Aside from its new opportunities with Altivity, Handschy did well in 2006. “We had slightly improved sales due to volume and pricing increases in 2006,” Mr. Graham said.
7333 Jack Newell Blvd., Suite 200
Fort Worth, TX 76180
Phone: (817) 595-1754
Fax: (817) 595-3521
Sales: $23 million.
Major Products: Web heatset, open web offset, news and no-heat inks.
Key Personnel: Jesse Samaniego, president; Jeff Gilliam, VP, sales and marketing; Bain Gilly, general manager and technical director; Ron Henderson, VP, heatset sales.
Number of Employees: 33.
Operating Facilities: Fort Worth, TX; Sparks, NV.
Comments: The publication side of the ink industry has proved to be challenging in recent years. However, for Impression Inks, the news and heatset ink markets have proved to be good ones, as the seven-year-old ink company continues to record impressive growth.
“Our growth has been nothing short of phenomenal, and we’re still continuing to grow,” said Mr. Gilliam, Impression Inks’ vice president, sales and marketing. “We are very excited by the opportunities we have.”
The company has enjoyed particularly strong growth in news ink, where the company earned the prestigious NAA Certified designation three years ago.
“In the last three years, the bulk of our new business has come from the newspaper industry,” Mr. Gilliam said. “It seems to be the area that offers the best opportunity for us. We have hired new people to accommodate that growth in both sales and technical service.”
Impression Inks has successfully spread across the U.S., opening a new plant in Nevada last year to meet demand in the west.
“We opened our new plant in Sparks, NV, going on line full tilt in January 2006,” Mr. Gilliam noted. “We had quite a bit of business west of the Rockies, and as it continued to grow, the best way to maximize our opportunity was to build a manufacturing facility out west. It helped reduce our cost of transportation and it provides customers with the comfort of having their supplier nearby. Having a second plant also allows us to have the ability to shift production if something should happen at one of our plants.”
The company is following a similar recipe for growth in the eastern U.S., and may open a manufacturing facility in the near future. “We are developing sales on the eastern seaboard, and we are looking to develop enough business and opportunities to open a site in the eastern U.S.,” Mr. Gilliam said.
Despite its success, Impression Inks still emphasizes its high standards of service and quality.
“We’re still manufacturing relatively small batches of product, which allows us to customize products to meet our customers’ needs,” Mr. Gilliam said. “Our customers find there’s a benefit to that. It allows us to make more consistent products that will run better on their presses. We’re not trying to sell someone in Florida the same product as a printer in California.”
Premier Ink Systems, Inc.
10420 N. State St.
P.O. Box 670
Harrison, OH 45030-0670
Phone: (513) 367-2300
Fax: (513) 367-5346
Sales: $15 million to $20 million (Ink World estimate).
Major Products: Primarily water-based inks and coatings for graphic printing applications; also manufactures some UV- and solvent-based inks and coatings.
Key Personnel: Tom Farmer, president; Mark Tyree, VP of operations; Scott Reese, VP of sales; Larry Gersbach, CFO.
Number of Employees: Approximately 50.
Operating Facilities: Harrison, OH; Hazleton, PA; Springville, UT.
Comments: The packaging ink market continues to show solid growth, and Premier Ink Systems, primarily a specialist in water-based inks and coatings, had an excellent year in 2006.
In particular, the company regained some previous customers, who returned to Premier Ink Systems because of its complete performance.
“We did have some former customers come back to us because of our overall performance and what we have to offer as a company,” Mr. Reese said. “It shows that pricing isn’t everything, and that it takes total value and support.”
It is that level of performance that likely will lead to more success in the coming years.
“We want to continue to grow our sales at a healthy pace and offer our customers the latest technology in our inks an coatings,” Mr. Reese said. “We realize that economics are very important to our customers, but we also pride ourselves on our performance, which not only includes pricing but also quality, service and support.”
777 E. Wisconsin Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Phone: (414) 271-6755
Fax: (414) 347-4794
Sales: $35 million (Ink World estimate); ($350 million in Color Group).
Major Products: Inkjet inks.
Number of Employees: 3,500 at Sensient Technologies.
Operating Facilities: St. Louis, MO; Escondido, CA; Badalona, Spain; Morges, Switzerland.
Comments: In its sixth year since it was created out of Universal Foods, Sensient Technologies Corporation had $1.1 billion in annual sales in industries related to colors, flavors and fragrances, a growth of 7.3 percent compared to 2005.
Color Group revenue for 2006 increased 3 percent to $350.2 million and operating income was up 9.6 percent to $59.4 million. Color Group revenue for the fourth quarter increased 6 percent to $83.4 million from the comparable quarter in 2005. Annual and quarterly revenues reflect solid growth within the group’s cosmetic and food and beverage product lines. Higher sales drove the increase in operating income, which was enhanced by favorable product mix and an improved cost structure.
“Our major business segments enjoyed good volume growth and improved product mix during 2006,” said Kenneth Manning, chairman, president and CEO of Sensient Technologies. “This was an outstanding year and I expect our businesses to continue to perform well in 2007.”
Squid Ink Manufacturing, Inc.
1173 Osborne Rd.
Spring Lake Park,MN 55432
Phone: (763) 795-8856
Fax: (763) 795-8867
Sales: $20 million to $24 million (Ink World estimate).
Major Products: Coding and marking inks, and inkjet printing systems for the packaging industry.
Key Personnel: William T. Hoagland, president and CEO; Barry Chen, president, Squid Ink Asia; Jim Stelten, VP/CFO; Bruce Bailey, VP of engineering; Jim Abraham, director of operations; Chad Carney, director of marketing communications.
Number of Employees: 90.
Operating Facilities: Spring Lake Park, MN; Eden Prairie, MN.
Comments: A specialist in inkjet inks and systems for packaging, Squid Ink Manufacturing had a solid year in 2006, developing a series of new products to drive growth.
Two new products are the key to Squid Ink’s future growth. The first, the Streamline 3 small character continuous inkjet (CIJ) printing system, prints up to three lines of text, and offers a reliable, cost effective solution for small character primary packaging applications.
Streamline 3 is designed to print superior quality small characters on a variety of substrates, including porous, non-porous, smooth, textured, curved, concave and more, and is ideal for bottles and cans. The system utilizes ink and make-up manufactured directly by Squid Ink, eliminating the costs caused by multiple layers of distribution.
“The primary packaging market is four times the size of the secondary packaging segment, which is where we have concentrated our efforts in the past,” Mr. Carney said. “With Streamline 3, we can serve our existing customers who are already using our secondary packaging printing systems. This allows us to provide a total solution.”
The second new product is the SureSeal case taper for cost-effective top and bottom case taping. SureSeal is designed for large run case sealing, providing fast and efficient alternatives to hand taping.
Mr. Carney said that SureSeal is also perfect for integration with Squid Ink printers when coding is required on boxes.
“Just as with the addition of the Streamline 3, the SureSeal allows us to offer additional products to our existing customers. We are already calling on customers who use automated tapers; now we can offer them a complete solution: printers, ink, tapers and tape,” Mr. Carney said. “We mount our printers to the side of the taper and as their package travels through the SureSeal, we print bar codes, graphics or other text as the box is being sealed.”
In recent years, Squid Ink successfully developed business in Asia. In 2006, Squid Ink opened a 12,000-square-foot manufacturing, testing and repair facility in Shanghai.
“Asia is growing at a great pace for us, and is exceeding our expectations,” Mr. Carney noted. “Our new facility has been a great benefit for us. In addition to being the headquarters of our Asia operation, we use it to train and develop our distribution network, to service and repair equipment, warehouse equipment and complete some final assembly and testing.”
In recent years, Squid Ink has acquired small technology-rich companies. Research Inc. continues to see growth on the graphics side with both infrared and UV technology, and is manufacturing UV curing systems for flexo and offset presses.