60 Years and Growing
Serigraph turned 60 years old in 2009, no small achievement in the turbulent world of global capitalism. Its history is a classic American business adventure – from a start-up in 1949 in the garage of Al Ramsthal, a product designer, to a technology company with global operations today.
The word “seri” means silk in Greek, and “graph” means image in Latin, giving rise to the term serigraph, or silk screen printing. The technology of pushing ink through a mesh goes back 2000 years to meshes of silk. The concept of today’s screen printing is, at its roots, essentially the same. But it’s come a long way since the Chinese developed the technology, and Serigraph Inc. has pushed the technology – and other decorating technologies – into a new century.
Al Ramsthal left his job as a product champion at the West Bend Company, a manufacturer of aluminum pots and pans, to make graphic overlays. His first major customer was West Bend-based Gehl Company, which manufactured farm machinery.
In the nearly 40 years that he managed the company, Ramsthal established a niche in plastics printing.
When the Ramsthal family sold the company to an investment group headed by John Torinus in 1987, it was that niche in plastics printing that became the core of the company’s future strategy.
The new management team decided to focus on plastics printing, mostly pressure-sensitive decals and graphic overlays at that time. Over the two decades since, the company has added a team of chemists and engineers, who have added such products as heat transfers, badging, select metallization and in-mold decorations.
The company transformed itself from a printing firm to a decorating and service company. It now serves the needs of multi-national corporations around the globe as they project their brands on their products. It also offers printed products and fulfillment services that project company brands and offerings in stores – point-of-purchase advertising.
Serigraph established operations in Mexico in 1996, China in 2000 and India in 2006. It has shipped graphic products to more than 40 countries.
The company now offers screen printing, offset lithography and digital printing to its customers, as well as many related capabilities, such as fulfillment, online ordering and tracking systems, inventory management, and full-service finishing capabilities including forming, molding, die cutting, laser cutting, etching and sub-assembly. It also offers creative design and prototyping services.
Serigraph was technology-driven when Ramsthal started the company. Its intention is to be around another 60 years by maintaining its historic position as the innovation leader in the decorative and point of purchase industries.