Rolling Meadows, IL 60008
Phone (847) 956-6830
Fax (847) 956-6509
hubergroup Canada Limited
2150A Drew Road
Canada L5S 1B1
Phone (905) 671-0750
Fax (905) 671-6568
Sales: Approximately $130 million.
Major Products: Heatset, sheetfed, coldset, UV, flexo, solvent, aqueous and UV coatings.
Key Personnel: Derek McFarland, president Americas; Venkat Subrahmanian, CFO North America; Alex Moller, VP sales; Reginald Smith, VP technology; Charles Molicki, director of operations, Todd Brohm, VP/GM Canada.
Number of Employees: 250.
Comments: hubergroup is the sixth-largest global ink manufacturer, with sales of nearly $1 billion in 2017. The company has significant operations in the Americas, supplying a full portfolio of commercial and packaging inks to its customers.
Derek McFarland, president Americas for hubergroup, said that 2018 presented a lot of challenges and opportunities for hubergroup in North America.
“We experienced pressure from raw material increases, shortages of key ingredients (such as photoinitiators), volatility in global trade policies and lower print demand due to paper supply issues,” McFarland pointed out. “On the positive side, we continue to see growth in our packaging segment due to both market factors and share gain.”
In particular, packaging provides the most growth opportunity for hubergroup.
“To add to our existing portfolio of conventional sheetfed, energy-cured, water/UV flexo, we are adding the Gecko line of solvent-based ink for the flexible packaging market,” McFarland reported. “Gecko is already an extremely successful product for us globally and we are happy to now offer it to our packaging customers in North America.”
hubergroup has placed major emphasis on collaborations, forming a partnership with Koenig & Bauer.
“We are extremely proud of our new global partnership with Koenig & Bauer and happy that they recommend our conventional inks for their sheetfed presses,” McFarland said. “Our joint customers will definitely benefit from this cooperation as the performance and consistency is optimized.”
Developing environmentally friendly products is another important point of emphasis at hubergroup, as customers are emphasizing the benefits of sustainability and the elimination of materials that are raising concerns.
“We achieved very high levels of sustainability in our sheetfed inks, including Cradle-to-Cradle certification,” McFarland noted.
“The assessed and approved printing inks are based on renewable vegetable oils, are formulated cobalt-free and meet the de-inkability criteria specified by the European Recovered Paper Council (ERPC). The portfolio includes process and special color inks for conventional offset printing. The inks are enabling our customers to enter new markets, as the demand for print products with a small ecological footprint is increasing.”
Raw material prices and availability are major issues for ink manufacturers. Energy curable inks and coatings are a particular challenge, and in July, hubergroup issued price increases ranging from 6% to 8% for all energy curing inks and varnishes across Europe and the Americas.
“The most concern is related to UV photoinitiators, oligomers and monomers,” McFarland said. “We are working very hard to cover shortages and develop alternatives, but unfortunately we have had to go to our customers to pass along some of these cost increases.”
As for higher tariffs, another major concern for most ink companies, McFarland noted that hubergroup is watching the trade talks between US and China very closely, but the company is fortunate to have an integrated supply chain for pigments from India that is not totally subject to the outcome of the current negotiations.
Overall, McFarland is optimistic about the coming year. “I see many of the market challenges from 2018 continuing into 2019, but we are in a good position to serve our customers due to investments in our product portfolio, supply chain and North American team,” he concluded.