Dan Bland, co-founder and president of Quantum Ink, a Louisville, KY-based flexo, gravure and offset ink specialist, had seen a shrinking emphasis on service in the ink industry. Along with Bob Bodner, himself a longtime ink industry veteran, they decided the time was right to form an ink company that would be founded on the basis of quality and service.
“I had been in the ink business since the mid-1970s, from driving a truck to becoming a vice president, and had seen the industry’s rise and demise, and I saw that service was becoming less prevalent,” Mr. Bland said. “We decided to form Quantum Ink, emphasizing quality and service, and we seem to have done well. We are building our business slowly and steadily. We don’t want to lose customers to gain customers.
“Quality has to be there most of all, and service is right there, then most companies have let price become the third factor,” Mr. Bland added. “If a press costs $800 an hour to operate and you lose an hour due to buying the lowest cost ink, then what have you saved? The cost of ink is typically 2 percentof a print run, and when you squeeze the ink’s quality, you risk losing on the other 98 percent.”
For Quantum Ink, quality and service are absolutely essential. Mr. Bland noted that everyone at Quantum Ink has come up through the ink business and can help customers. “You’ll always have someone with printing and ink experience taking care of you, which is refreshing to our customers,” Mr. Bland said.
“A lot of large companies have downsized to a point that they have suffered on the service level, and when service needs to be there, it isn’t,” Mr. Bland said. “Our customers always say we gave them the best service they have ever had.”
As a result of its emphasis on quality and service, Quantum Ink has enjoyed growth throughout the U.S., doubling the production square footage at its corporate headquarters in Louisville, KY and purchasing state-of-the-art equipment for production and R&D labs. In 2002, Quantum Ink added production facilities in Houston, TX and Fullerton, CA. In 2006, the company opened new manufacturing plants in Harrisburg, PA and Dousman, WI.
“We’ve positioned ourselves that we are able to be aone-day shipping point throughout North America,” Mr. Bland said.
While quality and service remain most important in the eyes of their customers, price is still a challenge at times. Mr. Bland said he has seen competitors use tactics such as switching ingredients after getting approval on trial runs, and he remains steadfast that Quantum Ink won’t compromise on quality.
“I’ll try to sharpen my pencil on prices as much as possible, but I won’t cut my quality,” Mr. Bland said. “I won’t cut my prices and then switch to lesser ingredients. We see plenty of ink companies supply an ink on trial to a customer for approval, then change the formulation to try to make a profit; this is short-term business and can only destroy an ink company’s reputation and customer confidence. We have a lot of pride in our products at Quantum Ink, and none of us want to sacrifice our name for cost. If you’re honest, consistent and keep the quality standards high you will succeed. You may still not get every piece of business you trial for, but they’ll eventually know that Quantum is synonymous with quality, and if they value quality, they’ll eventually give us a try.”
The past 11 years have been difficult ones for ink manufacturers, whether they are established or start-ups, and Quantum Ink has been able to thrive. As a result, Quantum Ink was awarded Fast 50 Award in Kentucky in 2007 as one of the 50 fastest growing independent companies in the state.
“It has been a tough time to grow, yet we have been able to withstand and continue to grow even during tougher times,” Mr. Bland said. “It’s a tribute to our personnel, as everyone here is a key individual. Our logo states that we are ‘Your Quality and Service Ink Company,’ and there is a firm commitment from all of our employees that these are not just words on paper, but a way of business.”