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Family, Friends Mourn Passing of Robert H. Flint.

Ault Award winner was key leader in development of Flint Ink Corporation

Robert H. Flint, whose guidance helped propel Flint Ink Corporation to prominence within the industry, passed away on January 1, 2000 at the age of 86.

Mr. Flint, the son of the founder of Flint Ink Corporation, was involved in the industry for 65 years, rising to chairman and CEO of Flint Ink. His leadership and vision helped set the stage for the company's future growth.

"In some ways, Bob's passing marks the end of an era for Flint Ink Corporation," said H. Howard Flint II, the current chairman and CEO of Flint Ink Corporation and nephew of Robert Flint. "In other ways, his influence will be felt for many years to come. He had the respect and admiration of his family, his employees and the industry as a whole, and he will be missed.

"Bob enjoyed a long and prosperous career in the leadership of our company," H. Howard Flint II continued. "His service to the company spanned more than 65 years. He was instrumental in laying the foundation for the successful, growing enterprise we have today."

Flint Ink's Growth

Robert Flint joined Flint Ink full-time in 1934 after he graduated from Amherst College. After working in sales and purchasing, Mr. Flint took leave of the company in order to enlist in the U.S. Naval Reserve from 1942-45, where he served as a commissioned officer and was captain and patrol leader of a motor torpedo boat squadron.

After the war, Mr. Flint rejoined Flint Ink, and was named secretary/ treasurer soon afterward. In 1950, he was named vice president of operations.

In 1982, he succeeded his brother Edgar as president, and served as chairman and CEO from 1987-92.

During his leadership, Flint Ink continually expanded its commitment to new product research and development, leading to the completion of its dedicated research center in Ann Arbor, MI in 1987. In addition, under his direction, Flint Ink made the first in a series of acquisitions that have more than quadrupled its size and positioned it as a worldwide leader in printing ink manufacturing.

One of the most important moves made by Robert Flint occurred in 1980, when he, along with Edgar Flint and nephew H. Howard Flint II, founded Chromatic Color Corporation, which later became CDR Pigments & Dispersions.

"He was a tremendous mentor and inspiration to me," said W. Rucker Wickline, president of CDR Pigments & Dispersions, who was chosen by the Flints to run the fledgling pigment company. "I've had a tremendous relationship with him through the years, and watched as he led the company to tremendous growth in the '80s and early part of the '90s. So much of the success of Flint Ink is attributable to the years that he ran the company. He was a tremendous individual and leader."

Since his retirement in 1992, Mr. Flint has been the chairman of the executive committee of Flint Ink's board of directors. Mr. Flint remained active with Flint Ink, stopping in at the company the week before Christmas and having lunch with H. Howard Flint II.

Industry Leadership

Robert Flint's dedication was not just to Flint Ink; he also served with distinction with the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM). He received a number of industry awards, culminating in the prestigious Ault Award, the highest honor presented by NAPIM, and the Printing Ink Pioneer Award, also presented by NAPIM.

Robert Flint served as a director of NAPIM for 17 years, and was a member of the association's Executive Committee for 12 years. He served two years as vice president, and was elevated to the presidency in 1958. His presidency marked the first time that a son had followed in his father's footsteps as president, as H. Howard Flint was president from 1933-36.

"I met him when he was president of NAPIM, and I've known him for 40 years," said Jim Renson, former NAPIM executive director. "I found him to be a very fine gentleman. He was always very supportive of NAPIM and NPIRI (National Printing Ink Research Institute), and he always made sure we had people from Flint Ink on our committees."

H. Howard Flint II, the 1999 Ault Award recipient, said that having his uncle present at the Ault Award ceremony made his receiving the award even more memorable.

"He was very active in the trade association," H. Howard Flint II said. "He was an Ault Award winner, a Pioneer Award winner, NAPIM president, and on the Board of Directors. I'm so glad he was there when I received the award."

Through both NAPIM and NPIRI, NAPIM's research branch, Mr. Flint was very active in promoting and growing the industry. He was a leading proponent of ink research, and was one of the strongest supporters of NPIRI during its inception in 1946. He would serve on NPIRI's board for six years, and as its president for three years.

Mr. Flint's interest in technological breakthroughs were certainly not confined to NPIRI.

During his leadership at Flint Ink, his company created alkaline fountain solution technology and the conductivity method for measuring fountain solution concentrations. He is also credited with developing the mist test using the modified Inkometer that is now prescribed by NAPIM.

As committed to education as he was to research, Mr. Flint was involved in publishing the first Printing Ink Handbook. He also helped establish the summer course in printing ink technology at Lehigh University, and was eventually responsible for establishing the NPIRI optic laboratory at the Lehigh Sinclair Research Center.

His efforts were not limited to NAPIM and NPIRI: he served as an officer and committee member for several other associations within the graphic arts industry.

Reaction from Family, Friends

The passing of Robert Flint is a loss that is being felt by his family and his friends within the industry.

"He was such a wonderful man," said Mary Flint Pardi, Robert Flint's great niece and operations analyst, Flint Ink's North American Packaging Division. "I always admired my uncle's dedication to Flint Ink and the printing ink industry. He served as an inspiration to me."

"Robert Flint was a very, very honorable man and a real gentleman," said Harvey Brice, Superior Printing Ink president. "I think those are two traits are something that everyone should have in our industry today."

Mr. Brice said that the leadership of Robert Flint and his brother, Edgar Flint, helped make Flint Ink a huge force in the industry.

"Edgar and Robert Flint were quite a dynamic duo," said Mr. Brice. "They grew the company very nicely over the years, and they both were very active in NAPIM."

"He obviously is one of my mentors," H. Howard Flint II recalled. "I toiled, and when I fell, he picked me up. As tough as he was, he cared for all of us. He was a real hands-on, old-style entrepreneur-manager. I'll miss him personally.

"He was a giant in our industry," Mr. Flint concluded. "He will be missed."
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Article Details
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Author:Savastano, David
Publication:Ink World
Date:Feb 1, 2000
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