1 Sun Chemical Corporation
35 Waterview Blvd.
Parsippany, NJ 07054
Phone: (973) 404-6000
Fax: (973) 404-6001
Sales: Sun Chemical had annual sales of $3.5 billion in printing inks and colorants worldwide. North American Ink Sales: $1.5 billion (Ink World estimate).
Major Products: Broad product portfolio with capabilities in web heatset and sheetfed offset; publication and packaging gravure; news ink and publication coldset; flexographic packaging inks; corrugated packaging inks; energy curable inks and coatings; screen inks, label and narrow web inks, toner, inkjet materials, adhesives for packaging, overprint varnishes, specialty coatings, effect inks, flexographic printing plates, digital artwork file management, color software and brand color management, printed electronics, security inks and coatings, and organic colorants for inks, plastics, paints, coatings and cosmetics.
Number of Employees: More than 8,000 worldwide.
Operating Facilities: Sun Chemical has more than 300 manufacturing and service locations worldwide and more than 200 customer in-plant locations in the U.S. alone.
Comments: Sun Chemical had a strong year in sales in 2013, as its emphasis on growth markets such as packaging is paying dividends.
“We saw our plans and strategies for packaging take shape and yield benefits,” said Charles Murray, president, North American Inks for Sun Chemical. “We had strong growth in all sectors of packaging, including narrow web, flexible packaging and folding carton, and significant growth also in our Sun Graphics Division and our coatings operations as well.”
Murray said that Sun Chemical’s success in packaging is due to ongoing efforts in providing innovative products, value-added services and consistent quality to their customers.
“Our strategy is designed to position us for the future, as we are investing in R&D efforts to keep up with our customers’ needs, whether it is faster presses or food packaging regulations becoming more stringent,” Murray added. “We work directly with many global brand owners and CPG companies to meet their needs going forward, as regulations such as the Swiss Ordinance are not limited to North America. We are growing in narrow web, where we are developing unique products. We offer dispenser capabilities for mid-sized converters for narrow web, UV offset and UV flexo, and have added water-based inks as well. We also have other initiatives that provide an all-encompassing value proposition, such as our virtual implant JV, which helps offset printers ensure the ink chemistry remains consistent on press.”
The publication and commercial printing industry is continuing to suffer declines, which is impacting ink manufacturers, including Sun Chemical.
“Our growth in packaging was tempered by continued declines in the publication area, heatset news and commercial sheetfed, which is continuing year to year,” Murray noted. “We need to continue to right size our operations. We closed two of our publication ink operations on the West Coast, as we can’t continue with that level of cost in a declining market. However, we are still committed to the publications market and continue to support our customer base.
“We still wrestle with matters outside of our control,” Murray added. “Currency fluctuations, such as the decline of the Canadian dollar and Brazilian real, become a bit of a roller coaster. Some of our customers pulled out of Canada when the Canadian dollar reached parity with the U.S. dollar, but now the Canadian dollar has declined again.”
Outside of packaging, Sun Chemical has staked out leading positions in a number of growth areas, including its Graphic Arts business, where it provides one-stop service for its customers. The company invested $5 million into its new 25,00 square foot plant in Concord, CA, including an Esko HD CDI laser imager, a MacDermid LUX laminator and DuPont’s DigiFlow/DigiCorr systems as well as the ESKO Digital Flexo Suite (DFS) pin mounting system. The company also upgraded its operations in Maumee, OH.
“Our Graphic Arts business is doing well,” Murray said. “It’s not just about ink anymore. Our new plant in Concord, CA helps customers from the design concept to platemaking, and we also have a similar operation in Maumee, OH.”
Inkjet is another strong area of growth for Sun Chemical.
Printed electronics is a developing market, and Sun Chemical’s long-standing relationships with brand owners and consumer packaging goods (CPGs) companies is leading to opportunities in this field.
“Brand owners and CPGs have a huge amount of interest in the security and promotional aspects, as this technology provides opportunities to grow sales through customer interaction,” Murray noted. “But it is still in its infancy, and because of our partnerships with brand owners, we are in the forefront of this field. We have a wide portfolio and the scale of manufacturing, and our outlook is very favorable in both the short and long term.”
Sun Chemical had numerous highlights of note this past year, most notably in Latin America. The company welcomed Fernando Tavara as its president of Sun Chemical Latin America. Tavara, who was most recently vice president of sales at Sun Chemical Latin America, is responsible for all of Sun Chemical’s Central and South American and Caribbean ink business. He replaces Gregory Lawson, who retired at the end of 2013.
In January 2014, Sun Chemical Group Coöperatief UA purchased the remaining shares held by Inversiones Mundial (Grupo Mundial) in their Colombian joint venture companies Tintas SA and Sinclair SA.
With annual sales of more than $100 million, the Tintas/Sinclair Group sells inks and related graphic arts products primarily to the packaging market in the Andean region of Latin America, covering Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela.
In addition, Sun Chemical Performance Pigments opened its new state-of-the-art pigment dispersions manufacturing facility and on-site technical service labs in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in August 2013.
Murray said that Sun Chemical has improved its raw material position, particularly with the 2012 addition of Benda-Lutz Werke GmbH, a leading manufacturer of metallic effect products based in Austria, as Sun Chemical can now internalize its vacuum metallized pigment supply. However, there remains concern with other key ink ingredients.
“In 2013, we saw a higher level of stability in raw materials, although it still sits at higher prices,” Murray said. “We are not seeing the high spikes as we did before, but we are also not seeing reductions either. There are still challenges such as TiO2, but high stocks in the supply chain have helped to keep prices stable. Oil always has a bearing on us, as we can’t switch from one type to another. We are keeping a close watch on TiO2 as well as feedstocks for pigments, where we are seeing prices escalate, and the volatility of gum rosin is always a concern.”
Overall, Murray said Sun Chemical is looking ahead to further overall growth in 2014.
“For 2014, we are continuing to strengthen our core businesses, growing in packaging while anticipating a further decline in publication,” Murray concluded. “We want our growth to outpace the general GDP. We are looking confidently to 2014 and beyond as our plans are bearing fruit.”