INX's Dr. Kotaro Morita Receives NAPIM's Technical Achievement Award

By David Savastano, Ink World Editor | 06.09.09

Dr. Kotaro Morita, center, of INX International Ink Company, is congratulated by colleagues Joseph Cichon, left, and Rick Clendenning after he was honored with NAPIM’s Technical Achievement Award.
When the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM) announced that Dr. Kotaro Morita, R&D senior vice president, chief technical officer for INX International Ink Co., was the recipient of NAPIM’s 2007 Technical Achievement Award during the National Printing Ink Research Institute’s (NPIRI) annual Technical Conference, Dr. Morita was very much caught off guard.

“When receiving the award, I was just so surprised since I never thought about myself receiving such an authoritative award,” Dr. Morita said. “When my name was announced at the award dinner, I was even lost for a moment not knowing what was going on. I’m deeply appreciative of being selected for this honor.”

For Joseph Cichon, senior vice president, manufacturing technology for INX International Ink Company and NPIRI president, presenting this year’s award to Dr. Morita was particularly enjoyable.

“It was absolutely an honor to present Kotaro with this award,” Mr. Cichon said. “Kotaro has been involved with us going back to the 1980s, and he’s done a lot for INX.”

The Technical Achievement Award recognizes the efforts of an individual who has made an outstanding technical contribution to the ink industry, and Dr. Morita clearly fits the qualifications. For the past 28 years, Dr. Morita has been the bridge to bringing technology for new products from Japan to the U.S., and has been instrumental in evaluating printing performance at customer sites, improving quality and engineering new products.

“Dr. Morita had been engaged in the development of newspaper ink and offset ink as an offset ink chemist since he started working for Sakata Inx,” said Hiroshi Ota, chairman of INX International Ink Co. “He has a cheerful personality from his earlier years, takes a progressive approach to everything he does and has developed various kinds of new products.

“To describe Dr. Morita, he is very positive about everything and very rigid with work, yet affectionate to a person,” Mr. Ota added. “He endears himself to his staff and earns their esteem. He has a strong heart that keeps his spirits up even when he encounters difficulties, and he is very thoughtful of others around him. He is also an enthusiastic learner and his knowledge about management is abundant as well as ink technology. His English language ability is at high levels as well.”

“Dr Morita is very knowledgeable and is extremely dedicated to making sure our customers are satisfied technology wise,” added Rick Clendenning, INX International Ink Company’s president and CEO. “ He is hard working and devoted to helping INX maintain a technology leadership role in our industry. I am very happy that Dr. Morita’s accomplishments were acknowledged by NAPIM this year.”

Joining Sakata Inx

Dr. Morita joined Sakata Inx in 1979 upon graduating from Kyoto Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering.

“Chemistry has been one of my favorite subjects, so I chose polymer chemistry as my major in college,” Dr. Morita recalled. “After graduating from college, I looked into some fields that would allow me to make full use of my major. I chose the printing ink industry because it is closely associated with our daily life, accessible to the world and it purveys dreams to people through colors.”

Dr. Morita was assigned to Sakata Inx’s R&D lab, where he helped develop new products to improve the quality of newspaper web offset ink as well as direct lithographic black printing ink. In 1987, he received the first of his assignments to work with INX International Ink, and was selected to head the development of commercial web rotary offset ink. In 1990, Dr. Morita was reassigned to Sakata INX in Japan, where his research work in the development of commercial web rotary offset press ink and sheetfed offset ink helped reduce product costs.

In July 1989, Dr. Morita was assigned to INX as technical research engineer, responsible for offset ink in the U.S. He returned to Sakata in April 1992, and in 1995, Dr. Morita was promoted to chief researcher and was instrumental in the development of the Eco-Pure series of ink, which uses ecological raw materials. He earned his doctorate of engineering degree in 1998 from Chiba University.

In January 2001, Dr. Morita once again returned to the U.S., this time as R&D director of offset. Mr. Cichon worked closely with Dr. Morita, and was impressed with his colleague’s abilities in all facets of business.

Dr. Kotaro Morita, left, R&D senior vice president, chief technical officer for INX International Ink Co., receives NAPIM’s 2007 Technical Achievement Award from Joseph Cichon, NPIRI president and Dr. Morita’s colleague from INX International Ink Co.
“I worked side by side with Kotaro from 2001 to 2004 when we ran our West Chicago R&D operations, and he was in charge of our paste ink department,” Mr. Cichon said. “Kotaro does an excellent job, not only with our customers, but also with global suppliers of raw materials, and he has helped us share technology between Sakata Inx and INX. He is not only a good manager, he is also a good scientist. He’s very much at home in the lab as well as meeting with customers.”

In 2004, Dr. Morita returned to Sakata Inx, and after three years,he was promoted to his present position of R&D senior vice president, chief technical officer for INX International Ink Co. in April 2007.

“Up to now I had a chance to be stationed in the U.S. three times at intervals,” Dr. Morita said. “Although I assumed different responsibilities every time, I was always impressed with the size of the U.S. market and its rapidity of change. My experience and stimulus I acquired in the U.S. helped me to be engaged in ink development with my broader outlook in Japan. This is the most fortunate event in my career and what I should be proud of.”

“With his proactive personality and technical capabilities, he was transferred to INX International Ink in the U.S. when he was young,” Mr. Ota said. “Thanks to his naturally proactive character, he promoted good fellowship with his INX colleagues and became proficient in English at that time.

“After being back in Japan, he demonstrated his leadership as a chief chemist,” Mr. Ota continued. “His caring personality endeared him to many of our young chemists and he earned their esteem. He also received his Ph.D. related to offset technology. Then he was transferred to INX International Ink again to improve its cost as part of the improvements in performance of INX International Ink. He successfully achieved a significant cost reduction by his innate leadership, abundant experience and knowledge, and greatly contributed to the INX efforts to improve in performance. He was also promoted to a vice president for the first time as a Japanese staff and started taking charge of part of INX management both in name and reality. After that, he was in charge of Sakata’s offset R&D in Japan and fully responsible for offset development of Sakata Inx. Recently he was promoted to a director, member of the board in Japan and transferred to the U.S. for the third time.”

Major Influences

Dr. Morita is grateful for the guidance he has received from many individuals, and points to people inside and outside of the ink industry as major influences on his life and career.

“In the ink industry, I can think of these two individuals,” Dr. Morita said of his influences. “One is Mr. Hiroshi Ota, who is current chairman of the board of INX International Ink Co. and my mentor as well. He has been also working both in Japan and the U.S. and he is very understanding. Mr. Ota provided me the third opportunity to work in the U.S. At the same time, he always shows me what to do and think of as the management of a company. He is one of those who have a lot of impact on me. The other is Mr. Rick Clendenning, who is current president and CEO of INX International. As a top leader of a company, he is energetically doing his work, yet he never forgets to be thoughtful to each employee. Mr. Clendenning is one of the most respectable executive officers.

“Outside of the industry, I can name these two people, though they are deceased,” Dr. Morita noted. “One is my father. He gave me a lot of good advice when I chose my career. When I was young, he also taught me what good attitudes and thoughts to work were. The other person is Dr. Amari, who was a professor of Graduate School of Chiba University and the authority in “Printing Ink Science & Rheology.” He was my advisor when I received my doctor’s degree. Being beyond his field of expertise, he taught me well how a researcher should be.”

Dr. Morita continues to enjoy the challenges of the ink industry.

“Although it is said that ink is a maturing product, it’s still possible to differentiate it in quality and it is a product that can be expanded in application,” Dr. Morita said. “I will continue to listen to and direct my attention to our customers’ demand and the market trend all the time to develop products that support the needs and are easy to use. I will continue to try hard to help to develop the ink and printing industries.”