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Signs of hope amid the economic downturn. (The U.S. Top 20 Report).

The overriding story of 2001 has been the economic downturn in the U.S. In particular, the printing industry was heavily affected by the recession, and that in turn has impacted the ink industry. With a few noteworthy exceptions, most ink manufacturers had, at best, flat years in terms of sales in 2001. The ink companies that focus on the publication and commercial segments were especially hard-hit; few companies in those markets reported good news in 2001.

So far, 2002 hasn't looked that much better. Ink industry leaders say there hasn't been any discernable pattern in the first few months of 2002, and many are cautiously optimistic that the second half of 2002 will bring a significant improvement to the economy.

Still, amid the alarming reports about the economy, there was some good news to be found. Some established companies have been able to differentiate themselves from their competitors, and are making gains in the market place.

Each of the companies that did have successful years in spite of what the economy offered have their own unique reasons for their success. For example, Central Ink Corporation's sales growth can be attributed to the mergers and acquisitions that have put some accounts into play. In the case of Graphic Sciences, new technologies have led the way to growth. SICPA North America is making significant gains in the packaging market.

For Color Converting Industries, the key to success has been through offering value by combining its products and services to enable customers to help take cost out of their operations.

Meanwhile, there were a few companies that have recently begun operations that are gaining a foothold in the market.

Micro Inks Corporation, Hindustan Inks and Resins' U.S. subsidiary, had a major impact in the heatset market in 2001, and is branching out into the sheetfed and energy-curing segments in 2002. The Packaging Ink Corporation, founded by Progressive Ink's Jerry Mosley, is quickly making a name for itself in the packaging field. It should come as little surprise that Micro Inks and Packaging Ink Corporation are two of our Companies to Watch for 2002.

As we have in previous years, we have included a growing number of companies as Companies to Watch. This year, our list features Alden & Ott Printing Ink LLC, American Ink Jet Corporation, A.J. Daw Printing Ink, Deco-Chem, Gans Ink & Supply Co., Ink Systems, Micro Inks Corporation, Nor-Cote International, The Packaging Ink Corporation, Premier Ink Systems, Siegwerk Inc. and Squid Ink Manufacturing. These ink manufacturers deserve recognition for their important roles in the industry.

To compile our comprehensive reports, Ink World interviews printing ink industry leaders to help analyze how their companies are doing. Throughout the year, we gather information and talk with knowledgeable sources to determine what is occurring within the industry. I am extremely grateful for the assistance and openness of our industry's leaders.

Through these reports, readers may gain an insight into the industry, and can access the latest and most accurate accounts of what is happening at our industry's top companies. It is our sincerest hope that our U.S. Top 20 Report will help readers have a clear vision what is happening within the industry, and that they will be able to benefit from our Top 20 Report.

David Savastano

Ink World Editor
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Publication:Ink World
Date:Apr 1, 2002
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