March 18, 2012 - Alfred K. Bowers, customer solutions manager in the Premedia Technologies Division of RR Donnelly, Menasha, WI; has been inducted into the Flexographic Technical Association’s Hall of Fame. The honor came in front of a capacity crowd, on hand for the gala awards banquet, staged in conjunction with FTA’s 54th Annual Forum and 30th Anniversary Edition of the INFO*FLEX Exhibition. Both events are currently underway at the Grand Hyatt and Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, respectively. Bowers is the 50th individual to be welcomed into the prestigious society, comprised of flexography’s movers and shakers who have helped to sculpt the modern day packaging, printing and converting industry.
A printer-turned-prepress-expert, Bowers also dabbles in design and has long been an advocate for the consumer product company. As a champion of standards, he is a forbearer of FIRST (Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifications and Tolerances) and staunch proponent of printing to the numbers. Some know him as flexography’s Walmart connection and describe Bentonville, AR, as his near second home.
He stepped out of Western Michigan University’s packaging program and into the professional packaging world at American Can in the late 1970s. Passionate from the start, he relocated from his boyhood home of Pontiac, MI, to Nennah, WI; and quickly rose from entry level pressman to shift supervisor, graphics support manager and general manager. Over time, Al honed his skills at American National Can, Pechiney Plastic Packaging, Banta Digital Group and RR Donnelly.
Early in his career he began making both personal and indelible marks on FTA. Initial assignments involved lecturing at Fox Valley Technical College’s FTA sponsored “Get Your Color Here” seminars. That led to a role on the institution’s advisory board and soon after a seat on FTA’s Board of Directors and its Foundation’s Board of Trustees (1989-1995).
During his tenure on the Board, Al was intimately involved with the development of FTA FlexSys training modules, earning a President’s Award in 1993. He soon became active in Flexo Quality Consortium (FQC) research work and experiments.
Eventually, his advocacy for standards and specifications, led him to work with Clemson University via its Process Color Symposiums and the International Standards Organization and its Walmart Ink Specification Project, which of course contributed to the development of the retailer’s now infamous “Packaging Scorecard.” It was that experience that served as the foundation for his FTA 2011 Fall Conference presentation.
Earlier FTA programs that Bowers was involved in included: Forum 2002, where he served as co-chair of the Platemaking and Prepress Sessions; Forum 2010, where he co-chaired the FQC Session with Paul Lodewyck of Flint Group; and this year’s Forum, where he leads the Expanded Gamut Session with co-chair Ellen Farrell of DuPont Packaging Graphics.
He espoused his philosophy from those podiums in this fashion: “Because flexo can print on almost anything, it is used to print on virtually everything. Every structure brings unique challenges and each printer devises an approach to solve those difficulties. Images in the aisles of supermarkets today are much brighter, often more complex and generally create more impact than ever before.”
Photo caption: Al Bowers and his wife Lori
About FTA/FFTA: Flexographic Technical Association (FTA), chartered in 1958, is a professional society dedicated to bringing all members of the flexographic printing community—printers, suppliers, consumer product companies, institutions, prepress houses and others--together by providing opportunities for the free exchange of technical ideas and discussion of mutual concerns. It is a proponent of maintaining and advancing quality standards and includes 1,650 member sites that represent more than 1,400 companies and 60,000 individuals. Foundation of FTA, founded in 1974, is the educational arm of FTA and is dedicated to supporting and advancing the flexographic printing industry.