Color Resolutions International’s Joe Schlinkert, center, is congratulated by his colleagues John Edelbrock, left, and George Sickinger after Mr. Schlinkert received the Printing Ink Pioneer Award from NAPIM.
For Mr. Schlinkert, the decision to take the co-op opportunity at Borden Chemical made plenty of sense.
“It seemed a lot more logical than working at a local restaurant or warehouse,” he recalled.
Now, three decades later, Mr. Schlinkert is still with Borden Chemical’s successor, Color Resolutions International (CRI), both as technical director as well as a part-owner. During his years in the industry, he has helped develop an impressive array of inks, most notably for the corrugated marketplace, and has served with distinction in trade associations.
With that in mind, the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM) honored Mr. Schlinkert with the prestigious Printing Ink Pioneer Award at its annual convention in April.
“I guess I was surprised,” Mr. Schlinkert said of the award. “It is a great honor.”
Mr. Schlinkert’s colleagues say he is most deserving of the honor.
“Joe came to Borden as a co-op student and never left, and now he is an owner of our company,” said George Sickinger, CRI’s chairman, president and CEO. “We have been blessed with some products that really stand out in the narrow web and corrugated markets, and Joe has his fingerprints on every one of them. He is a great scientist and a quick wit, and is a tremendously caring person, both of our company and his family.”
“Joe has really carried our technology forward,” added John Edelbrock, CRI’s vice president of manufacturing. “He is a very dedicated scientist, as well as a good teacher with his people. We try to allow him to focus on his work with his people at the bench.”
The Ink Industry
As a science student working at Borden Chemical, Mr. Schlinkert quickly found the ink industry to be an interesting one.
“I found the lab work at Borden to be interesting,” he said. “I worked on a variety of different jobs, including QC and R&D. I was able to apply a lot of chemistry. I had always been interested in science, and I got involved in a number of different projects. It’s a very broad industry and I just dove into it.”
When he graduated, Borden Chemical offered Mr. Schlinkert an entry-level chemist position, which he accepted, gathering experience in a variety of inks before concentrating on fluid inks.
“At that time, Borden Chemical was in just about everything, including publication gravure, paste and fluid inks, even a little bit of letterpress and can coatings,” Mr. Schlinkert said. “It was a good time to learn.”
Mr. Schlinkert also had the opportunity to work with a variety of talented ink chemists at Borden Chemical.
“I started with a pretty sharp chemist, Richard Hopperman, who took me under his wing,” Mr. Schlinkert said. “Rich Podhajny was a technical director for Borden Chemical who played a big role in my career, and Harry Pansing and Don King were also very knowledgeable.”
By the 1980s, Borden began to reorganize its business, selling off parts and focusing on the corrugated market.
“We had purchased a number of ink companies through the years and didn’t have focus or direction,” Mr. Schlinkert said. “We ultimately spun off some of these divisions.”
Color Resolutions International
By 2000, Borden Chemical had decided it was time to leave the corrugated ink market, and searched for a buyer. After much effort, Mr. Sickinger put together a deal in which he secured the financing to do a management buyout. A few of Borden Chemical’s senior managers, including Mr. Schlinkert, who had become Borden’s product development lab group leader in 1993, would join the ownership group.
“We’ve got a good experienced team here, and we know each other’s strengths,” Mr. Schlinkert said.
CRI’s core business is the corrugated market, and the changing nature of the business has led the company to branch out into other packagingink segments.
“I think we have developed good products for the market,” Mr. Schlinkert said. “In corrugated, there will always be challenges. I think that one area of interest is the higher-end market, very high quality process jobs printed on vacuum transfer presses. This presents us with a unique set of circumstances. You can’t just take inks for brown boxes and run them, as the packaging helps to sell the products when it catches the eye of the potential buyer. There is a lot of equipment out there that is configured differently, and the substrate and environmental conditions differ. We have to tweak products for customers.
“We decided to strategically look at other flexo ink markets, such as envelopes and flexible packaging, and we have a number of people here who have experience in the field,” Mr. Schlinkert added.
Outside of CRI, Mr. Schlinkert is enjoying family life with his wife Suzanne and daughters Mary Elizabeth and Emily.
“I’m very busy with our family,” he said. “It’s been a great tradeoff from the things I used to do.”
All in all, Mr. Schlinkert is very much enjoying his work at CRI.
“What an opportunity this has been,” Mr. Schlinkert said. “I joined the ink industry right out of school, and never dreamed I’d be in the position I am today.”