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Kerley Ink company

Kerley Ink company

Kerley Ink is one of the oldest remaining privately-owned ink manufacturing companies in the United States. It was officially founded in 1947 by Raymond Ambrose Kerley, but the company's roots in the graphic arts go back considerably farther than that. As a matter of fact, they go all the way back to 1909, the year that the famous Indian Chief Geronimo died. 

In that same year, the then 16 year-old founder of Kerley Ink took the New York Central railroad from Schenectady, New York to Chicago to seek his fortune. There he found work as a "printer's devil" near downtown Chicago in a shop named The Regensteiner Press. The rest, as they say, is history.

Even back in the 1920's and 1930's, Ray was quick to understand the significance of the revolution in mass communication that was taking place in America. Ray saw during his career as a printing professional how the business of large-volume printing had been growing at a nearly explosive rate since the late 1800's. By the end of the 1920's, Ray Kerley had risen to the job of pressroom superintendent at The Cuneo Press in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. By that time, Ray realized that there were many new pressrooms being constructed all across the nation, and that there was a concurrent boom in the business of companies that supplied those new pressrooms. An opportunity presented itself: start an ink manufacturing company to supply printing and converting firms in Wisconsin. Ray left his job in Milwaukee in 1932 for the town of Menasha, Wisconsin to start up the Lake States Printing Ink Company in an abandoned brewery.

Throughout the early 1930's, Ray sharpened his ink making skills in Menasha, but eventually realized that there were much better opportunities back in the bustling city of Chicago. So he packed up his family and went back there in 1935. Ray's decision to take up the job of ink manufacturing supervisor at W. F. Hall Printing Co. was to prove historic, because while he was there, the brand-new process known as "heatset web letterpress" was just invented. Ray was one of the first adopters of the new process, and was a pioneer in the new skill of formulating the heatset inks needed to run these new, very fast web-fed presses. 

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