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Flint Ink's Ronald Miller receives NAPIM's Pioneer Award.

Ronald J. Miller, Flint Ink Corporation's vice president news ink--central division, a recent recipient of the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers' (NAPIM) 2004 Pioneer Award, began his career in the ink business by pure coincidence.

"My entry into the ink industry was by blind luck," said Mr. Miller. "I was looking to leave the automotive industry, where it's easy to be 'pigeon-holed' into a small area and not be able to grow and expand one's knowledge."

Wearing Many Hats

Mr. Miller's serendipitous job change gave him the unique opportunity to start his career at Flint Ink at a time when it was a still a relatively small company. As a result, he was able to work in many areas of the business.

Mr. Miller began his career in printing ink in 1973 when he joined Flint Ink Corporation as personnel director. After a time, his duties changed and he found himself in charge of a branch facility. He began to move up the corporate ladder from branch manager to regional manager and then to manager of the company's oil division. Over the years his sales and customer service skills have contributed much to Flint Ink's growth.

"More than 30 years ago, Flint Ink was a small organization," Mr. Miller said. "It was the type of business that could offer me the challenge needed, as everyone wore many hats. Hiring in as director of personnel--today it's called human resources--little did I know that over the years, through many changes in responsibility, would I wear so many hats. It is a fun, ever changing industry to go to work in every day."

In addition to his hard work at Flint Ink, Mr. Miller has contributed his service to NAPIM as a member and chairman of the Labor Relations Committee, which developed surveys of assistance to printing industry management, and has served as an officer of the Chicago Printing Ink Manufacturers Association. In addition to his service to NAPIM he has actively represented his industry with his contributions to various associations, serving on the boards of the International Newspaper Group and the PIA Advisory Group. He was directly responsible for making Flint Ink's Indianapolis ink plant the first ISO 9002 black news ink plant in the U.S., earning it the state of Indiana's Top Quality Award.

Through his three-decade career at Flint Ink, Mr. Miller has witnessed the ink industry transform over the years. "In many ways the ink industry has not changed in the last 31 years," said Mr. Miller. "It is still very customer service driven and there is still excess capacity. On the other hand, it has and is changing as fast as computer technology. Faster presses, improved testing equipment and better raw materials, just to name a few, are all contributing to a bright future for the printed media."

Mr. Miller has been able to learn much about the ink business by working with many knowledgeable people. "Throughout my career there have been just too many 'teachers' to mention, but the one who stands out the most is the late Dr. Bertram Bates, a past NAPIM Ault Award winner," said Mr. Miller. "His ink knowledge and his calm and patient manner would allow even me to learn and wear another 'hat.' He used to hold technical classes an hour and a half before the start of the work day. Of course, I was eager to find out more about this industry, which did not use blankets to cover up with at night or plates to serve food."

Mr. Miller also credits the Flint family with helping him to learn the ropes of the ink business. "I was very fortunate to work with the Flint family--E.B. Flint, R.H. Flint and currently H.H. Flint and D.B. Flint," he said. "Those gentlemen have not only been mentors in business, but in other areas of my life as well. Other than some members of my own family, they have been the people that I have respected the most."

Upon learning that he was to receive NAPIM's Pioneer Award, Mr. Miller was shocked. "When I was informed that I would be receiving the Pioneer Award, it really did not sink in until the next day," Mr. Miller said. "A select few from our industry receive this award, and when it happens to you, it is a most humbling feeling. One of my first thoughts was of the many co-workers and my supportive family that have helped me over the years."

Mr. Miller's colleagues think he is a truly deserving award recipient.

"Ron is a special person who came to Flint Ink in human resources," said H. Howard Flint, II, chairman and CEO of Flint Ink. "His career took him into the fields of general management and sales management where he came into his own. He's a can-do individual with a great, positive attitude."

"Ron's leadership style enables him to get everyone to pull together to satisfy the customer," said Mike Green, vice president and general manager, Flint Ink Corp., North American news ink. "He is a solid, personable individual who builds strong relationships with sustained business. Over his 31 years, he's built a lot of relationships and contributed much to Flint Ink's success in the news ink arena."

"Ron brings a lot of credibility to the sales side of the business," agreed David B. Flint, executive vice president of Flint Ink. "He is very sincere and likeable, and he has established many good relationships with customers."

Good relationships are the foundation on which Mr. Miller has built his career at Flint Ink. "If I were asked for advice from someone as to the best way to grow, develop and achieve success, it would be to find a couple of successful individuals to be your mentors," said Mr. Miller. "Believe me, they know more than you may think. Then you must try to act as you preach, while learning from everyone that you come across."

Mr. Miller has no plans to leave this challenging industry. "I plan to continue to work with our customers and co-employees so I may give back to the company and industry that has given so much to my family and myself."

Kerry Pianoforte Associate Editor
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Author:Pianoforte, Kerry
Publication:Ink World
Date:Feb 1, 2005
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