14909 North Beck Road
Plymouth, MI 48170-7194
Phone: (734) 781-4600
Fax: (734) 781-4699
Revenues: 2013 revenues of Flint Group were €2.2 billion (US$ 2.9 billion); North American Ink Sales: $1.0 billion (Ink World estimate).
Major Products: A wide range of inks, coatings, blankets, pressroom chemistry, printing plates, consumables and more. Expertise in solvent-based, water-based, oil-based and energy curable applications, including offset lithography, flexography, gravure, rotary screen, rotary offset and letterpress. Products are designed to support nearly all print segments in the print media and packaging sectors. Also manufactures dry, flushed and press cake pigments, chips and resins for ink and other applications, aqueous dispersions, hyperdispersants and additives for the colorant market; pressroom chemicals; printing blankets; and flexographic plates and printing equipment.
Key Personnel: Pierre-Marie De Leener, chairman; Antoine Fady, CEO; Steve Dryden, CFO; William B. Miller, president Print Media Transatlantic and Japan; Craig Foster, president India & China Regions, Print Media Europe, Pigment, Chips & Resins, and Flint Group Operations; Doug Aldred, president Packaging and Narrow Web - EMEA and North America; Jan Paul van der Velde, SVP, procurement, sustainability, regulatory and IT; Russell Taylor, SVP, global human resources, communications and integrity/compliance; Adhemur Pilar, president Flint Group Latin America; Aryan Moelker, president Flexographic Products.
Number of Employees: Approximately 6,600 worldwide.
Comments: Flint Group had a strong year in 2014, with the packaging and narrow web segments doing well and the publication and commercial markets remaining steady due to the company’s diverse product portfolio.
“The packaging and narrow web ink segments fared well in 2014,” said Doug Aldred, president Packaging & Narrow Web. “Clearly the packaging and label market is strong and growing, and we’re excited to be a leading supplier and partner with printers and converters in this innovative arena.”
“As we’ve seen in prior years, Flint Group’s Print Media business benefited by our uniquely well-rounded portfolio and our ongoing investment in inks, blankets and pressroom chemistry for this marketplace,” said William B. Miller, president Print Media Transatlantic and Japan.
Aldred reported that the packaging and narrow web ink segments experienced some growth in 2014, and Flint Group expects to see further growth as through 2015 and beyond.
“The packaging markets are where Flint Group continues to see increased opportunities, and with a global reach, such as ours, we are able to support global accounts and brand owners with a global proposition,” Aldred added. “With our team of local experts, we are able to provide regional accounts with dedicated customer focus and innovative services.”
Miller said that the print media market was tough in 2014, and Flint Group expects those conditions to continue into the foreseeable future.
“Flint Group fared well in spite of this, in great part by our ability to maintain important business and gain new customers,” Miller noted. “Consolidation continued, providing great opportunities for some printers and their suppliers.”
Grant Shouldice, VP technology and marketing for Flint Group’s North American packaging group, reported that narrow web labels and flexible packaging continues to show growth, and there is also growing interest in shrink applications, particularly in the North American region.
“In addition, wide web flexible packaging continues to show a steady increase as brand owners continue to move packaging in this direction,” Shouldice added. “Packages are becoming more and more sophisticated, and it’s our job as a global ink supplier to be in tune with these innovative developments and have inks and coatings to support these new designs.”
Flint Group Packaging and Narrow Web introduced a number of new products in 2014 - including its ever-expanding line of UV LED inks, coatings and adhesives - and also added to its service operations.
“We took further steps in the service aspects of our business – laying plans for specific programs related to process improvement and digital color communication,” Aldred noted. “We intend to work with our customers throughout 2015 to grow and implement these programs.”
Shouldice noted that the increasing interest in regulating food packaging is becoming more common in North America.
“We all know that the pressures are much more strong in Europe and other parts of the world,” Shouldice said. “But, the focus on food packaging, and packaging compliant inks, is gaining exposure in North America. Flint Group Packaging and Narrow Web has inks suitable for food packaging – for narrow web, sheetfed, flexible packaging and paper and board. Many of our inks have been put through rigorous testing and are proven to be true low migration. In addition, we have facilities in various parts of the world, which are already practicing GMP – and, no doubt, more of our facilities will also follow this model. Bottom line – Flint Group is ready for customer demand.”
Raw materials costs have stabilized, but at levels higher than in the past. Diane Parisi, Flint Group’s VP procurement, reported that new challenges are emerging.
“For packaging inks, we actually see a stable price platform, albeit at a higher price level,” said Parisi. “The materials used are further back in the chain from the base commodities and, as such, react less strongly on commodity movements. If at all, we see the potential for increases in TiO2 and some pigments.”
Parisi noted that publication inks have a different dynamic when it comes to raw materials. She also notes that decreasing oil prices are not the panacea or quick fix the industry would hope for.
“While crude is falling, certainly not all crude derivatives follow the same trend,” Parisi added. “For example, DCPD, a key ingredient for the publication ink business, has not come down at all.
“On a related note, the shale oil/gas revolution in the U.S. means that there is more availability of lighter oil types; however, the industry needs more of the heavy fractions from crude, and those become less available,” Parisi concluded. “Unfortunately, on top of this, we have the logistics challenges in the U.S. The ink industry is dependent on imports from all over the world; the ongoing threat and reality of port strikes has increased significantly. And, further to this, the increases in road transport are growing areas for concern.
“Currency affects the raw material market as well. Right now, North America feels the negative affect of currency movements; for example, pigments and pigments intermediates coming from China, where the Chinese yuan has strengthened against the U.S. dollar.”
Overall, Aldred and Miller anticipate much the same from their respective markets in the coming year.
“This is not an industry for the weary,” Miller said. “We will continue to see a challenging Print Media market as the years progress.”
“We expect the packaging and narrow web business to continue growing at a similar level to GDP and the consolidation of our customer base to continue,” Aldred said. “Flint Group Packaging and Narrow Web, over the past year, has designed detailed long range strategies to address this growing, and changing, market around the world.”