Diane Parisi, center, receives the Ault Award from NAPIM president Rick Clendenning as her partner, Gail Ward, looks on.
When the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM) presents the Ault Award, the most prestigious honor in the printing ink industry, it chooses a person who has made important contributions to the ink industry.
Without a doubt, the selection of Diane Parisi, the vice president of supply chain management, easily meets those standards and many more. Ms. Parisi is both a highly respected industry leader comfortable in both the technical and management side of the business as well as a tireless supporter of the industry; as just one example, the efforts she has put in to conferences and industry panels is exceptional. As a result of those efforts, as well as decades of technical advancements and ongoing dedication to maintaining the highest standards of print, she was honored with the Printing Ink Pioneer Award in 2007.
It comes as no surprise that Ms. Parisi’s selection as the 2011 Ault Award recipient was not only much deserved but also a very popular choice. Actually, the only person who seemed genuinely surprised was Ms. Parisi herself.
“I was completely shocked when they announced that I received the Ault Award,” Ms. Parisi said. “That was pretty clear by the fact that I was speechless, which rarely happens to me. When you look at the roster of previous recipients, it is an impressive list of people who played key roles in the development of the industry and NAPIM. To be categorized with that group is a huge honor. I am very grateful to have been recognized and associated with that prestigious group.”
Her colleagues at Flint Group noted that Ms. Parisi is an ideal choice for the Ault Award.
“Flint Group and the ink industry have benefited substantially from Diane’s drive, sharp mind and ability to manage people and projects,” said Bill Miller, Flint Group’s president, Print Media. “I’ve known Diane for decades. Without fail, she puts her all into everything she does and never loses sight of the overall strategy. I have been impressed with Diane’s continual focus on the future even while dealing with the day-to-day realities, helping our company, and our industry, to evolve. Diane is also a great leader. She is demanding and supportive in equal measures – a strong management trait that produces loyalty, buy-in and results.
“Over Diane’s many years of service, she has remained steadfast in her dedication to the ink industry and our company,” Mr. Miller added. “Diane has paved the way for innovation and change through insightful leadership and hands-on efforts.”
“Diane has passion and drive and is constantly looking for ‘what’s next/what can we do better,’” said Jan Paul van der Velde, Flint Group’s senior vice president of procurement. “When she puts her mind to something she simply does not take ‘no’ for an answer. But while that is all true, her key skill is to engage with people at all levels and win their heart and minds for the execution of great ideas. She is absolutely a great person to have in my team, and Diane is a great asset for Flint Group. On top of that, she shows this same passion and drive when engaging with NAPIM.
“With Diane’s drive, her knowledge of the industry and the ink processes, she has been able to help shape the current supply chain,” Mr. van der Velde added. “Being close to suppliers, understanding the production processes and reaching out globally, she has been a great ambassador for the ink industry.”
Joining the Ink Industry
After earning her bachelor’s degree in printing management from Western Michigan University, Ms. Parisi began her illustrious career at Flint Group in 1982.
“Shortly after graduating, I joined a business forms company as a graphic designer,” Ms. Parisi noted. “Then a very good friend of mine told me about an opening in Flint Group’s Printing Research Lab. I interviewed and was offered the job – that was almost 30 years ago and I have never looked back.”
Beginning as a graphic arts technologist, Ms. Parisi quickly moved forward, joining the News Ink R&D Group, working first as a chemist, then as lab manager.She was actively involved in the development of Flint Group’s Rub-Free and Soy products, as well as the Directory Ink product lines.
“I have had so many opportunities throughout my career at Flint Group - so many things that stand out, but the first time I formulated an ink that ran successfully on press, I was hooked,” Ms. Parisi said. “It sounds crazy, but I just wanted to keep taking on those formulating challenges and having successful press trials.
“For me, other important highlights include being able to visit our various locations globally, understanding the different cultures and developing relationships with people in our industry from all over the world,” she added. “Of course, receiving both the Pioneer and the Ault Awards were definitely highlights.”
After her work in the News Ink R&D Group, Ms. Parisi was promoted to technical manager, where she led the Heatset, Sheetfed, Publication Gravure and UV laboratories at the company’s Research Center.
In 2004, Flint Group created a new position, director of global raw material consolidation and reformulation, and Ms. Parisi was the ideal choice with her technical expertise and business acumen. This led to her current role with Flint Group as vice president of supply chain management.
Ms. Parisi noted that the industry has changed a great deal during the nearly 30 years she has been at Flint Group.
“When I started with Flint Group, it was a $250 million family owned and run business,” Ms. Parisi said. “There were many small ink companies, and there was also a huge push on research and development all along the supply chain – printers, ink companies and suppliers.
“It was an exciting time because many new technologies were developed, press speeds increased, environmental rules changed and technology in the pre-press area really took off,” Ms. Parisi added. “There was never a dull moment as we were always reaching to improve the process. Over time, consolidations occurred in every aspect of our industry, which led to a stronger focus on maintaining business in a declining market.”
Ms. Parisi credits her family and her colleagues at Flint Group with her success at all she has taken on.
“I was very fortunate to have great parents who raised me to believe that I could succeed in anything that I decided to do,” Ms. Parisi said. “I also developed my tell-it-like-it-is persona from my family - being Italian there was very little holding back in our house.
“Within the industry, I had the pleasure of knowing and working with Howard Flint, who really was an industry icon,” she added. “Howard made time for all of his employees and he really loved this industry. He took a liking to me and I was fortunate to have spent time with him both in the office and on the road. He made you proud to work in the ink industry. I have also worked closely with Bill Miller, president of Print Media, for many years. Bill moved up in his career just like I did – from the labs to where he is today. Bill has such an amazing work ethic and leadership ability that employees want to do their best and be a part of his team.”
Outside of Flint Group, Ms. Parisi has been a tremendous supporter of NAPIM and the National Printing Ink Research Institute (NPIRI), NAPIM’s technical arm, serving as a moderator and chairperson at four NPIRI Technical Conferences and contributing to NPIRI publications. She also has been a frequent speaker before a number of customer industry groups, including the Web Offset Association and TAPPI.
“NAPIM has long served as a single voice for the industry and has ensured ink manufacturers – and our suppliers – re aware of the latest regulations that may affect us,” Ms. Parisi said.“And the NPIRI technical arm has been instrumental in training the next generation of experts as well as allowing manufacturers to keep up-to-date on the latest technology that affects us all. These examples are just a few of the instrumental services NAPIM provides.”
Outside of work, Ms. Parisi enjoys golf, good food and life with her partner, Gail.
“I have a sign in my office that says ‘Born to golf, forced to work’ if that tells you anything!” Ms. Parisi said.“My partner, Gail, and I also have three small dogs that we spoil terribly. And being Italian, I am bit of a foodie - and you can’t have food without wine.”
All in all, Ms. Parisi is certainly enjoying the ink industry.
“This is a great industry and I have definitely enjoyed working for Flint Group,” Ms. Parisi concluded. “I think anyone who works in this industry will tell you they enjoy it, That’s why so many of us have been around for so many years and why there is such a camaraderie at industry events. The industry gets in your blood.”