With an emphasis on new technologies, leadership and safety, the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM) held its Annual Convention from March 22-25, 2014 at Rancho Bernardo in San Diego, CA. The conference covered a wide range of topics, from leadership to the latest press technologies, and NAPIM’s leaders said they were pleased with the overall program.
“From my standpoint, I think it went very well,” said John Copeland, president and COO of Toyo Ink America and NAPIM’s president. “I feel like there’s some excitement here.”
“We started with Tim Gard, who got everybody up and that energy carried through,” added Brad Bergey, NAPIM’s executive director. “We had a good mix of speakers and talks about leadership, new technology and safety.”
State of the Industry and Raw Materials
The convention began Sunday, March 23 with Gard, a motivational speaker and comedian. He was followed by the Annual Meeting and State of the Industry Report.
The Annual State of the Industry Report, the result of industry surveys conducted by NAPIM, have reflected the challenges faced by ink manufacturers in recent years. The 2013 State of the Industry report, presently by Braden Sutphin CEO Jim Leitch, was a little more upbeat, as results from the ink manufacturers who responded showed improvement over 2012.
“The results are much improved over past years,” Leitch noted.
Leitch reported that the overall gross domestic products in the U.S. grew 1.9% in 2013, down from 2.8% in 2012. “The end of the recession doesn’t mean all is well,” Leitch added. “It just means that contraction has stopped.”
In terms of ink, NAPIM reported that there was $3.1 billion in ink sales in 2013, with 1.4 billion pounds of ink sold, not including screen, textile, digital or non-impact inks. This represented slight growth from 2012.
In terms of specific types of ink, litho inks again suffered a decline, with sales falling 2.3%. In terms of pounds, litho no heat inks declined 7.9%, while sheetfed inks increased 3.4% in volume.
Packaging inks were more positive, with all three segments – flexo solvent-based and water-based inks and gravure solvent-based inks – showing growth. Overall, NAPIM estimates that more than $1 billion in liquid packaging inks were sold in 2013, a growth of 1.3%.
Leitch also reported that profitability was up for 2013, with earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) increasing to 3.2% from 1.2% in 2012 and 0.4% in 2011.
“Profitability is much improved,” Leitch concluded.
Following the State of the Industry report, Jan Paul van der Velde, senior vice president, procurement, sustainability, IT and regulatory for Flint Group, offered his annual insights on the state of raw materials.
“The raw material market in 2013 was probably the most ‘steady’ year since 2007, albeit at a high price level compared to long-term averages,” said van der Velde. “The market is also volatile at short notice.
“While there is a slight decline in material costs, these were not sufficient enough to allow ink producers and raw material manufacturers to make up what they have lost,” he added.
In particular, van der Velde noted that crude oil, gum rosin, red and blue pigments and phenolics are some of the areas that bear watching closely.
“I don’t think this will be a major change year,” van der Velde concluded. “The industry seems to accept higher price levels as the new norm. The long-term outlook remains challenging.”
On March 24, the program moved into successful planning and safety. The session on leadership was presented by Marine Lt. Col. Patrick Houlihan, a F-18 and A-10 pilot with more than 2,800 hours of flight time. Houlihan is part of Afterburner, an organization which discusses how leadership models used in the military can also be applied to business.
“There is a need to embed the right people, empower the right individuals and equip them with the right training and standards,” Houlihan said.
The changing regulatory climate is a topic of much importance to the ink industry. George Fuchs, NAPIM’s director of regulatory affairs and technology, covered the changing nature of regulations in his talk on “Focus on Workplace Safety.”
Fuchs noted that in the period between October 2012 and October 2013, ink manufacturers received 28 OSHA inspections and 178 citations. “We are drawing a lot of attention from OSHA,” he added.
One area of concern is the safe use of three-roll mills. To help its ink members safely use and clean three-roll mills, NAPIM has created a video detailing the proper steps. Fuchs previewed the video, which focuses on large production mills, during the session.
During the closing session, the main focus was on providing attendees with information that will help them run their businesses, running the gamut from paper and containerboard consumption to new press technology.
“Today’s session provides information you can share with your customers,” said Bergey.
Larry Montague, president and CEO of TAPPI, opened the session with his overview on the paper and pulp markets. He noted that while times are tough, there are surveys indicating that print advertising remains more effective that electronic media.
“This is a great industry, and we will be here a long time,” Montague concluded.
Kathy Kneer, a principal with Poyry Management Consultants USA, followed up with her talk on “Paper, Packaging and Tissue Industry Dynamics.” Jeanne Magnati of the family-owned Lou Magnati’s pizza chain in Chicago followed with her talk on workplace culture. Magnati stressed the importance of showing appreciation and trust.
The session then moved to press technologies, with Dillon Mooney of the Printing Industries of America covering “New Printing Technologies: Offset, Flexo, Digital.” Denny McGee, president of ACT Global Systems, closed the session with his talk on “Flexography in North America: Trends in Technology, Efficiency and Markets.”
Ault and Pioneer Awards
One of the annual highlights of any NAPIM Convention is the presentation of the Ault Award and Printing Ink Pioneer Awards, which closes the convention. Jerry Mosley, CEO of American Inks & Coatings and a member of NAPIM’s Board of Directors, received the Ault Award.
“This is a complete surprise and quite an honor,” Mosley said. “What a great industry I’ve chosen to be in.”
In addition to the Ault Award, NAPIM presented seven industry leaders with the prestigious Printing Ink Pioneer Award:
• 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.
• Jim LaRocca, 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.
Next year, NAPIM will celebrate its 100th anniversary at its Annual Convention, which is scheduled for March 20-24, 2015 at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club in Ponte Vedra, FL. For more information, contact NAPIM at www.napim.org.
For more information on the NAPIM Annual Convention, including photos, as well as a podcast with Brad Bergey and Jim Leitch about the State of the Industry Report, see the online version of this story at www.inkworldmagazine.com.