2014 NAPIM Printing Ink Pioneer Award Recipients


This year, the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM) honored seven industry leaders with its prestigious Printing Ink Pioneer Award. Below are brief features on each of the award recipients:

• Maurice Carruthers, vice president and general manager, Sun Chemical Performance Pigments.

• Rich Czarnecki, technical director, Micro Powders.

• Gregg Dahleen, president, Central Ink Corporation.

• Dave Klebine, president, Apollo Colors.

• James La Rocca, chief operating officer, Superior Printing Ink.

• Jim Putney, manager, customer services at Sun Chemical North American Inks.

• Rick Westrom, senior vice president, strategic global sourcing/R&D director, INX International Ink Co.

For more information on the award recipients, see the expanded stories on the web at www.inkworldmagazine.com.

Maurice Carruthers, right, receives the Pioneer Award from NAPIM president John Copeland.
Maurice Carruthers, Sun Chemical Performance Pigments

In his career spanning more that 45 years, Maurice Carruthers, vice president and general manager, Ink Division, Sun Chemical Performance Pigments, has created a legacy of service to the pigment and ink industries.

In appreciation of his long-standing efforts, Carruthers has received NAPIM’s Technical Associate Member (TAM) Service Award in 2009, as well as the NAPIM Pioneer Award and the Metro New York Man of the Year Award this year. His career has certainly come a long way since he joined the pigment industry in 1966, signing on with Ciba-Geigy in his native Scotland as a dry color technician working on phthalocyanine.

In 1976, Carruthers joined Sun Chemical, heading to the U.S.

“I’ve worked in various positions that cover all phases of pigments group at Sun Chemical, including manufacturing, technical, sales and marketing,” Carruthers said. “These experiences allowed me to work in a variety of countries, such as the UK, Denmark, France, Belgium and the U.S., and in the process, I met a lot of interesting people with a lot of industry knowledge.”

Carruthers said he is honored to receive the Pioneer Award. “I have nothing but positive thoughts when it comes to receiving both the Pioneer Award in 2014 and the TAM award from NAPIM in 2010,” Carruthers said. “It is a confirmation that I made the correct decision in staying and working in this industry as well as with Sun Chemical.”

Rich Czarnecki, right, receives the Pioneer Award from NAPIM president John Copeland.
Rich Czarnecki, Micro Powders

Throughout his 30-plus years in the industry, Rich Czarnecki has made his mark on both the ink and wax industries. However, his joining the ink industry was almost accidental.

“When I graduated from Rutgers with my BA in chemistry, the industry was in a slump,” Czarnecki said. “It took me about a year before a guy named Tony Cappuccio called me up and asked me to come in for an interview at Converters Ink. I vividly remember hating the first few months there; my original career vision was working in some ivory tower like Hoffman-LaRoche, and here I was with ink on my hands. But as I learned more about the industry and gained more comfort with the technology, I was hooked.”

After Converters Ink, Czarnecki held leadership positions at Zeneca Inks, Sun Chemical and Superior Printing Ink before joining Micro Powders in 2011 as its technical director. At Sun Chemical, Czarnecki initially directed all research and product development activities for solvent- and water-based flexo and gravure laminating inks, and is credited with leading development, commercialization and marketing activities for solvent-based, water-based, oleoresinous and energy curable polymers.

A longtime supporter of NAPIM and NPIRI, Czarnecki served as president of the NPIRI Board of Directors from 2010-11 and vice president from 2008-10. He was the conference chair for the 2009 NPIRI Technical Conference.  He is also a member of ASTM committees D01.56 (Printing Inks) and D01.37 (Printing Ink Vehicles) (1998 – present), serving as chairman of ASTM committee D01.37 (Printing Ink Vehicles) from 2007 – 2012.

Czarnecki said he is deeply honored to receive the Pioneer Award. “It is gratifying to be honored as a printing ink pioneer after spending almost 30 years of my career working for ink companies,” he said.

Gregg Dahleen, right, receives the Pioneer Award from NAPIM president John Copeland.
Gregg Dahleen, Central Ink Corporation

The ink industry can be close-knit, with generations of family members making their living in the field. The Dahleens are one such family, following in the footsteps of Wendel Dahleen, an ink salesman for Acme Printing Ink. Gregg Dahleen, a 32-year veteran of the industry, has risen through the ranks to president of Central Ink Corporation.

Gregg Dahleen began his career painting walls at Acme Printing Ink in 1982, then becoming an inplant technician and lab technician. When INX International Ink was formed from Acme in 1990, he became lab manager in Chicago.

In 1996, he moved on to Central Ink as lab manager/in-plant manager and technical service manager, working for Richard Breen, another pioneer in the ink business.
He was promoted to vice president of sales in 2000, and was named president of Central Ink in 2007. He helped managed CIC through the most difficult economic times in its long history. Gregg Dahleen has been instrumental in helping Central Ink develop its state-of-the-art manufacturing.

“What a most fortunate happening when I first became introduced to the Dahleen family,” said Breen. “Gregg has not only been a great and valuable employee, but like a son to both my wife and myself. Where he might consider me a mentor, I consider him a strong and loyal friend and confidant. His father, Wendel, who unfortunately left us far too soon, would be justifiably proud.”

“Gregg is humbled and honored to be considered for such an award alongside so many deserving recipients in our industry,” said Victor Dahleen, who is vice president strategic services for Central Ink. “He is truly deserving of this award, and I know my father would be so proud of him.”

Dave Klebine, right, receives the Pioneer Award from NAPIM president John Copeland.
Dave Klebine, Apollo Colors

From his early days as a pigment chemist at American Cyanamid to his leadership today as president of Apollo Colors, as well as his prominent efforts on regulatory matters, Dave Klebine has played a major role in the pigment industry.

“My first job out of college was a pigment chemist at American Cyanamid in New Jersey,” Klebine said. “I enjoyed the chemistry and decided to stay with it throughout my entire career.”

Klebine joined Ridgway Color, a division of Sinclair and Valentine (S&V), in 1977, eventually becoming director of manufacturing. When Flint Ink acquired S&V, Ridgway Color was integrated into CDR, and Klebine became director of manufacturing for the three CDR pigment sites. In 1994, Klebine joined up with Tom Rogers at Apollo Colors, becoming VP and general manager in 2001 and president in 2005 when Rogers retired.

Klebine’s business accomplishments are noteworthy on their own, but it is his work with the Color Pigments Manufacturers Association (CPMA) that is particularly significant. A current member of CPMA Board of Governors, Klebine has served on a wide range of CPMA committees since 1984.

“I’ve been involved in the development and commercialization of many new organic pigments for the ink industry in my career and made many good friends along the way, but my most fulfilling activity has been with the Color Pigments Manufacturers Association,” Klebine said.

“I’m gratified that NAPIM has chosen to acknowledge my contributions to the printing ink industry with this award,” Klebine said. “The acknowledgement of my contributions to the ink industry via my activity with CPMA makes it all worthwhile.”

James La Rocca, right, receives the Pioneer Award from NAPIM president John Copeland.
James La Rocca, Superior Printing Ink

James La Rocca, COO for Superior Printing Ink, joined the company out of high school in 1969, and never looked back.

“I first became involved in the industry during my senior year in high school,” he said. “I attended what was then called The New York School of Printing in Manhattan. They offered a co-op program whereby students could choose employment over shop studies during their senior year. There were no jobs available at print shops during the second semester. The guidance counselor asked me if I wanted to learn more about ink, and I’ve been with Superior Printing Ink ever since.”

Starting as a color matcher 44 years ago, La Rocca moved up through the ranks, from an ink formulator, technical service representative, lead project technician, branch manager, Southeast regional manager, senior VP, Southern Region, and in 2006, to his current position of COO.

“I’m fortunate to have had many highlights during my career,” La Rocca said. “I started with Superior as a lab trainee in 1969. I’m currently the COO and work with over 200 fabulous people. Many good things happened to me while traveling this path. I have, and continue to meet, many prominent, intelligent, hard working people in this industry. I love working with and for them and my co-workers.”

La Rocca said that receiving the Pioneer Award means a great deal to him.

“The people that received this award, past and present, did many good things over a long period of time to earn it,” La Rocca concluded. “I’m very grateful for the nomination, and to the NAPIM committee that voted for me and believe I did some good for our industry and earned it.”

Jim Putney, right, receives the Pioneer Award from NAPIM president John Copeland.
Jim Putney, Sun Chemical

As Southeast regional manager for Customer Technical Service (CTS), Jim Putney of Sun Chemical is responsible for a customer technical service team of close to 50 people, including field service and in-plant personnel.

Putney has been instrumental in the expansion of color management, ink dispensing technology and pressroom consumables at Sun Chemical. On the customer side, he has dedicated himself to numerous accounts.

One highlight for Putney was in July 2012, when he was promoted to his present position. “This region supports a number of large national accounts, and the technical service team assists our customer base in getting the most from Sun Chemical’s products and working together to optimize their press operations,” he said. “A few months into the job, I told our customer technical service director, Jarred Carter, that I felt I had spent my whole career training for this job. I felt I was exactly where I belonged at exactly the right time.”

Receiving the Pioneer Award is a huge honor to Putney, who credits many at Sun Chemical for influencing and leading him throughout the years.

“I’m honored,” he said of receiving the Pioneer Award. “This award has been in existence for almost 60 years, and the list of those who have received the award is a veritable ‘Who’s Who’ of the printing ink industry. Many of the people who, literally, made Sun Chemical what it is today have received this award. To be on the same list as those people is humbling.”

Rick Westrom, right, receives the Pioneer Award from NAPIM president John Copeland.
Rick Westrom, INX International Ink Co.

Rick Westrom, INX International Ink Co.’s senior vice president of strategic sourcing and R&D director, has risen through the ranks during his 39 years in the ink industry. His ability to master all of these roles makes him an ideal choice for the Pioneer Award.

Westrom began his ink career in 1975. “I started at Borden Chemical in St. Charles, IL out of high school by operating a three roll mill while I was going to college part-time,” he said. “After one year, I was promoted into quality control before moving into the lab, where I learned about color matching and formulation.”

Westrom worked 13 years at the St. Charles location, where Borden produced all variety of products, from offset sheetfed and heatset to solvent- and water-based liquid inks.

“I was able to formulate and provide technical service for all these ink systems, which prepared me for my career at INX International Ink Co.,” he added.

In 1988, Westrom joined Midland Color, eventually becoming lab director over both the Offset and Liquid divisions. In 1993, INX acquired Midland Color, and Westrom earned promotions, from branch manager to operations VP for the Liquid Division. In 2000, Westrom moved into purchasing.

“In 2000, I was given the opportunity to work as head of purchasing for the Liquid Division,” Westrom said. “I was well versed with the production and formulation of most of our ink systems, and I was able to utilize my technical knowledge while meeting and working with suppliers.”

In 2007, Westrom was promoted to VP of strategic sourcing for the entire company. In 2010, INX elected him to the Board of Directors, and in 2013, INX named him R&D director for INX as well.

Westrom said that receiving the Pioneer Award is a tremendous honor.

“It was a great privilege to receive the Pioneer Award, especially with such a great group of other winners that are well thought of in the industry,” Westrom said.