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Meet Rik Mertens: Global Applications Manager


Fasten your seat belt and get ready for take off. We’re about to start your day with two fascinating snippets of science!

A 2015 study from the Academy of Management Journal has shown that traveling for business can be a creativity catalyst. The analysis revealed those who encounter diverse cultures in a professional setting experience higher levels of creative output. But the good news doesn’t end there; research from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2009 showed that those who spent extended time abroad also had enhanced problem-solving capabilities.

These little-known facts are attributes that can be seen in real life when looking at Rik Mertens, Datacolor’s Global Applications Manager. “I usually travel once per month for Datacolor, but sometimes too much, according to my family” he said. “I come across many complex situations.” A trip to the Middle East underscored Rik’s problem-solving skills and creativity: “A while ago, I was working in a plastics company. When I entered the company, they told me I had three trials in production, then if the color difference was too big, we were out. Thankfully we effectively handled the case.” That’s a lot of pressure!

So what exactly does Rik do that allows him both the opportunity to travel and to tackle Datacolor’s Applications obstacles? “My role is to work together with the key accounts, mainly in the global paint and coatings industries. I primarily help paint manufacturers implement Match Pigment, and also assist them with point of sale and ColorReader retail applications.”

From Finland, to New Zealand, to Canada, Rik has seen it all. As a seasoned globetrotter, we rely on Rik to distinguish the best avenues for our international customers, and we appreciate the valuable contributions and insights that he provides to Datacolor!

Location: Ghent area, Belgium

Favorite color: Dark blue

Favorite activities outside of work: “I enjoy bicycling, running, traveling, and taking care of my animals and family.”

Years at Datacolor: Almost 30

Alma Mater: CTL Ghent

Studied: Textile Science and Engineering

Rik’s Walk with Datacolor

For someone who is used to bouncing from city to city all around the word, Rik’s journey to Datacolor was quite straightforward. “A long time ago, I was employed by a plastics company and working in their laboratory, where we were using ICS Texicon quality control instruments. I was also doing some programming in my free time. Later on I saw that ICS Texicon was looking for an applications engineer, so I applied for the job and started working there in 1988. Three years later, ICS Texicon was purchased by Datacolor, and I have been here ever since.”

Being rooted in the same company for nearly three decades while still regularly traveling the globe has allowed Rik to gain exclusive insight into the world of customer processes and difficulties. He explained that today, the clients he encounters seem to frequently ask the same questions: “If a customer sees that their results are not satisfactory, they always come back to us to see what the problem is. They ask, is it the software? Is it my own application process? They’re looking for answers to issues with their color matching equipment. Likewise, I often hear: “How can I move data from the laboratory to point of sale as quickly and user-friendly as possible?” Datacolor has many available solutions to customer issues, and we need to continue to take steps to improve on our solutions in the future.”

Having such a cosmopolitan work-life experience certainly seems rewarding – but what keeps Rik really working at Datacolor? “The traveling is very nice, and I appreciate meeting different types of people and cultures. I enjoy the interaction with key accounts, research and development, and also product management. It’s very gratifying to work together to convince a customer or fix customer’s issues.”

We are grateful for all the handwork that Rik extends from each corner of the earth, and we are happy he continues to be a part of the Datacolor team!

Rik’s Recommendations

Travel can teach you a lot – about differing societies, about yourself, and even about business. With so much experience in the literal world of color, Rik had three key pieces of advice for color professionals.

  • Know your customers and their application processes. It is critical to understand what and how they are accomplishing tasks in the laboratory.
  • Understand your software – both what it can do, and what it can not do.
  • Respect color matching theory. Be sure to have color training and know the basics of colorimetry.

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