November 9, 2021 

The History of Markem-Imaje Corporation Marking and Coding

The history of Markem-Imaje begins with two companies, Markem Machine Company and Imaje S.A., that merged to form the marking conglomerate it is today.

Markem-Imaje is a company known around the world for its well-constructed marking hardware. Markem-Imaje, which offers continuous inkjet and thermal inkjet printers, thermal transfer overprinters, and print-and-apply labeling machine systems, has a global distribution network that reaches 28 countries. 

Despite this large network, Markem-Imaje has only been a company since 2007. It was during that year the New Hampshire-based Markem Machine Company and France-based Imaje S.A. merged to form Markem-Imaje, a company wholly owned by the Illinois-based Dover Corporation. With this merger, Markem-Imaje became one of the largest packaging companies in the world. 

However, before the merger, Markem Machine Company and Imaje S.A. had independent achievements regarding printer development, sales, and more. Below, we dive deeper into the background of each company as we explore the history of Markem-Imaje and the merger that formed this marking conglomerate.

The Pre-Merger Background of the Markem Machine Company

The history of Markem-Imaje first begins in 1911 when a financier named Frederick Ashabel Putnam formed Markem Machine Company. Known more widely by the moniker “F.A. Putnam,” Putnam was born in 1860s New Hampshire and became familiar with industrial technology at an early age, as his mother would often bring him along to her shifts at a local mill. 

As the young Putnam watched the various machines at work in the mill, his interest in industrial hardware grew. This interest proved to be highly influential to Putnam’s financial career, as his successful investments included funding different mills and ventures from famed New England aviator, Robert Fogg. In 1911, Putnam combined his interest in industrial hardware with printing technology to form Markem Machine Company—an enterprise that initially focused on building machines and ink formulas intended to mark the materials used within New England’s blossoming shoe industry.

As Markem Machine Company grew in size, it also expanded into different industries. Over the next few decades, the company began making formulas and machines for a range of applications, including military weaponry, electronic hardware, pharmaceutical products, and more. By 2007, the year of the Markem-Imaje merger, Markem Machine Company had grown into a large enterprise with 1,300 employees, international distribution, and $290 million worth of annual sales. 

The Pre-Merger Background of Imaje S.A.

Although Imaje S.A. doesn’t have quite as long a history as Markem Machine Company, it still made a large impact in the printing industry before the Markem-Imaje merger. 

Based in Bourg-lès-Valence, France, Imaje S.A. was founded by an industrialist named  Jean-Claude Millet in 1982. The original goal of the company was to expand the European market of continuous inkjet printers. The first business venture of Imaje S.A. involved distributing hardware for the already established Domino Printing Sciences group. However, this distribution partnership proved to be short-lived, as the engineers at Imaje were eager to develop and sell their own continuous inkjet printers. 

Before long, Imaje S.A. became one of the largest industrial printing companies in all of Europe. While it started by specializing in small and large character inkjet printers, it quickly expanded into other technologies like laser marking systems, thermal transfer overprinters, and print-and-apply applicators. Known for its reliable hardware and application-specific printing solutions, the stellar reputation of Imaje S.A. allowed the company to expand not only across Europe but around the world as well. 

At the time of the Markem-Imaje merger, Imaje S.A. employed 1,730 people, operated in more than 120 countries, and reported annual sales above $390 million.

The Modern History of Markem-Imaje: How Two Printing Giants Joined Forces

Although Markem Machine Company and Imaje S.A. found success independently, they were brought together by a larger global conglomerate: the Illinois-based industrial hardware producer known as the Dover Corporation. 

The merger first began when the Dover Corporation purchased an 88% interest in Imaje S.A for $200 million in September 1995. At that point, Imaje S.A. was already one of the largest manufacturers of continuous inkjet printers and inks in the world, and by acquiring the company, the Dover Corporation was able to greatly expand its presence in the European market. By the end of 1995, the Dover Corporation increased its interest in Imaje S.A. to nearly 100% and led the group to continued success into the 21st century. 

In 2006, the Dover Corporation acquired Markem Machine Company, then simply known as Markem Corporation. Although the terms of this deal were never disclosed to the public, it is known that Markem Corporation was able to retain its name and operate as an independent company. However, this all changed in 2007 when the Dover Corporation merged Markem Corporation and Imaje S.A. to form Markem-Imaje. With this move, Markem-Imaje became “the world's largest supplier of product identification solutions,” according to the press releases at the time. 

Since the merger, Markem-Imaje has only risen in profile within the international printing industry. Generating annual sales above $450 million and serving high-profile customers like the Coca-Cola Company, the name Markem-Imaje is synonymous with high quality, as its hardware consistently ranks among the highest in the industry when it comes to reliability and speed. 

With this great public standing and a long past filled with innovation and satisfied customers, Markem-Imaje is set up for continued success across the globe.

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C&M Digest Team

The C&M Digest Team is composed of experts from across the coding and marking world. Comprised of ink developers, hardware veterans, and engineers, our News Team delivers informed coverage that is always free from brand bias.

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