The field of packaging ink is a fascinating one, as the need for both appearance and functionality requires ink formulators to be at the top of their game. If a package offers great advantages but is not eye-catching, it will languish on the shelf. Conversely, a package may be visually striking, but if it does not satisfy the requirements of consumers, it, too, will fail. To meet these requirements, ink formulators have to excel at their craft.
Sun Chemical’s Tony Renzi Jr., left, receives the Printing Ink Pioneer Award from NAPIM president Dave Frescoln.
In recognition of these efforts, the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM) presented Mr. Renzi with the prestigious Printing Ink Pioneer Award during its annual convention in April, an award that came as both a surprise and an honor to him.
“I was surprised because I obviously knew of this award and understood it represents the long years of service to the industry,” Mr. Renzi said. “It wasn’t until I was asked about my accomplishments that I realized how long I have been at it. The time really has flown by and as I said before, because the industry is always changing, every day seems like your first day. There is always something that comes up that you didn’t expect or ever see.
“I was honored to be recognized as a key contributor by the industry and my peers,” Mr. Renzi added. “It was an honor to be included with the six other award winners, key contributors in their own right as well.”
Joining the Ink Industry
After graduating from Northern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, Mr. Renzi went to work with Converters Ink Company as a lab chemist. It was an ideal place for Mr. Renzi to begin his career in the ink industry, as he was able to absorb a wide range of experiences at the small company.
“Coming out of college, I wanted to apply my chemical degree in a technology role in a dynamic industrial space,” Mr. Renzi noted. “I wanted to work in a laboratory. Many opportunities available in other industries at the time were in sales and other non-tech roles. The ink industry gave me the opportunity to apply my technical knowledge directly, and have an immediate impact on the business.
“At Converters Ink, I was able to further develop my analytical skill through formulation and problem solving specific to the ink industry,” Mr. Renzi added. “Since Converters was a small company, I performed many roles in the formulating lab including, quality control, technical service and ink production. I was able to learn many of the key aspects of the ink industry and printing in a very short time through hands-on experience.”
Within five years he had become laboratory manager, and when Converters Ink was acquired by Sun Chemical, he was soon promoted to director of packaging ink applications, offering Mr. Renzi new opportunities.
“Converters was a small company, which allowed me to learn all aspects of the ink industry quickly,” he said. “However, there were limited personal growth opportunities. The acquisition of Converters by Sun Chemical gave me the opportunity to grow. At Converters, I was promoted to lab manager within a relatively short time span, but there was really no growth path available from there. Sun Chemical immediately offered to me so many more opportunities for personal and professional growth. At Sun Chemical, I was able to advance quickly to a regional and national technology role within just a couple years. I now have global packaging technology responsibilities, which would have never occurred at Converters. Sun Chemical also supported my continued education, as I completed my MBA at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University a few years ago.”
Mr. Renzi added that being at Sun Chemical has provided him with the opportunity to work with innovative leaders.
“I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to work directly with Sun Chemical’s top executive staff,” Mr. Renzi said. “I report directly to Dr. Cynthia Arnold, our CTO. Dr. Arnold came from outside the ink industry but has quickly integrated her expertise in other disciplines and introduced concepts such as Design for Six Sigma (DfSS) and multi-generation product plans (MGPP), which has created a new energy and direction into our technology group. In addition, I work very closely with the president of our packaging business, Richard Pettifor. Richard has created a team atmosphere such that the packaging technology and business strategies are tightly linked. Both of these individuals have created an atmosphere within technology and the business, which keeps my responsibilities dynamic and fresh.”
“All of us in the Sun Chemical Packaging business are delighted that Tony has been selected as a recipient of the Printing Ink Pioneer Award by NAPIM,” noted Mr. Pettifor, president, North American Packaging for Sun Chemical. “As the leader of technology for our business, this award is positive recognition for Tony’s contribution to making Sun Chemical the clear leader in innovation in North American packaging inks. Tony has a fantastic knowledge of the myriad of complicated end use requirements and difficult technical specifications demanded by the packaging industry, and has been a great example for the teams he leads. During his 27 years in the ink industry, Tony has made a huge contribution both to the industry and Sun Chemical with the development of unique ink systems, running external training courses, as well as finding time to run a marathon and complete his MBA.”
Mr. Renzi has been especially active in representing the ink industry in the Flexographic Technical
Association (FTA) and the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA). Mr. Renzi developed Liquid Ink Formulation and Application training modules and delivered presentations at FTA workshops and forums on topics such as water- vs. solvent-based lamination inks, water-based handling procedures and gravure lamination inks. He has served as industry panel expert on flexo and gravure lamination inks at FTA Forums as well as industry panel expert on water-based inks for flexible film applications.
“I have been involved primarily with the FTA, FPA and most recently NAPIM,” Mr. Renzi said. “These are all great organizations that support our industry by creating opportunities for industry partners to interact. In their own way, each has created a vehicle for the entire value chain of the ink industry to exchange ideas through conferences, seminars and trade shows. They keep members of our industry informed about the latest trends in technology and the market using key industry metrics.
“One example of this is a recent publication from the FPA on ‘Sustainable Packaging,’ an emerging growth area for the ink industry that will create exciting new opportunities,” Mr. Renzi added. “Sun Chemical is a key player in the sustainable movement, and it was beneficial to receive an excellent report and a good industry overview. We need these types of organizations to help keep the ink industry in the know on these emerging trends.”
Outside of the ink industry, Mr. Renzi is also active, as he enjoys golf and running.
“I play golf and I am a runner. Last year I ran the Chicago Marathon; it was my first and may be my last. I ran it in 3:45 but everything you have heard about running a marathon is true, there is a wall and I hit it,” he said.
Contributions to Packaging
Mr. Renzi has a well deserved reputation for his contributions to liquid ink technology. Among his accomplishments, Mr. Renzi developed one of the first low GC laminating ink systems in the industry to meet Frito Lay and Mars end user specifications for retained solvents and bonds. He also developed one of the first high heat resistant surface print systems, which would withstand 400°F heat seals with exceptionally high gloss, as well as cold seal adhesive release inks and coatings for the candy bar packaging market that are still used today.
Mr. Renzi developed inks for direct food contact for color striping under cold seal adhesives, developed one of the first high performance inks for surface print HDPE outdoor bag market to pass end user color integrity specifications for outdoor exposure, and created transparent dye-based inks that will withstand 1000 hours outdoor fade for metallized film banners that are still used today.
Mr. Renzi has also directed teams on new product innovations, including solvent- and water-based inks for printed nonwoven applications; high performance solvent-based lamination inks RotoPure, RotoPure Ultra and Duratort; stir-in colorants for surface print PE; Novaflex water-based lamination ink for PET film and outdoor bags; and inks utilizing polymeric adhesion promoters for high heat resistant applications.
It is the opportunity to create new products that Mr. Renzi finds particularly interesting and enjoyable.
“The ink industry doesn’t stand still,” he said. “My primary responsibility is developing ink products for food packaging for Sun Chemical. The packaging industry is ever changing and is coming out with new substrates, end use applications and printing methods. This creates tremendous opportunities every day to create a new ink solution. Our products at Sun are evaluated continuously for performance and fit for use. Whether it is a slight product modification that can be adjusted in our applications labs or a new ink system developed in our R&D facility in Carlstadt, NJ, you know that tomorrow you may need to start all over again. So, it is the excitement of change and the challenges that come with that change that is the most enjoyable to me.”