Helping to Grow Datacolor – Ken Butts

You have probably heard us use the term ‘the world of color’ more than once. But what do we mean by that?


There are those who would describe it as the vast cornucopia of colorants. Some people would say it’s simply hue, lightness, and saturation. Those with kids may remember it as a nighttime light show at Disneyland.


For Ken Butts, our Global Key Account Team Manager, it’s pulling Datacolor’s entire textile color industry together as one efficient unit around the world. As he puts it, “We have key account managers in Europe, North America, Hong Kong, and China, and their jobs are to support our largest retail/apparel accounts. My role within that is to help coordinate the global activities of the key account managers. We want to be sure that a color manager in the US has the same support as a color manager in Asia, in order to ensure that their processes are communicated clearly to their suppliers. Ultimately, our job as the global specifiers team is to help brands and their suppliers keep up with the latest trends by creating efficiencies in objective color management throughout their retail and apparel supply chains. My role is to manage that relationship, be sure my team has what they need to be successful, hold them accountable to certain goals, and be a liaison between ourselves and other teams.”


If that sounds complex and important, that’s probably because it is just that. Ken has been a key player in a large, positive step forward for Datacolor through the reunification of the global specifiers team. After nearly five years of being disbanded, Ken has been a part of the reconstruction of this pivotal organization that aims to tackle the inherent challenges of supply-chain color management in the retail and brand apparel industry. We are excited to see what pioneering, forward-looking solutions Ken and his crew provide, and are so thankful for his years of experience and dedication to his craft!


Location: Charlotte, North Carolina

Favorite color: Green


Favorite hobby: Gardening


Alma Mater: North Carolina State University


Majored in: Textile Chemistry


Favorite things about Datacolor: “Seeing our customers be successful. I also enjoy the opportunity to communicate directly with anyone in the company. From the person in the factory to the CEO, it’s nice to be a part of an organization where there is such transparency from top to bottom. You feel like you make a difference.”


Fun fact: “People always seem surprised to find out I have six children!”


Ken’s Connection with Datacolor


Ken has certainly set the bar high in terms of commitment. Whereas some of us can’t even remain loyal to our “favorite” restaurants for more than a year before we’re tired of them, Ken has been a member of the Datacolor family for 25 years. To put that in to perspective, he has been with our team only one year less than the World Wide Web has been a public service. Impressed yet?


It all began when Ken started working at a textile manufacturer directly after graduating from college. He told us, “As part of my training there the first year, I used a color matching system that my employer had purchased from a company called Applied Color Systems. ACS had an office in Charlotte, which was only about two hours from where I was working. Because of that proximity, ACS often approached my employer about our performing testing on new products and their product updates. I got to know the ACS folks really well, and got to know their products and give them feedback. Then in the late ‘80s Datacolor purchased ACS. After working in the mill for five years and working three weekends a month there, I decided it was not for me. I wanted the opportunity to travel (and not work weekends!), so I reached out to a fellow I knew at Datacolor to see if there were any openings.There weren’t at the time, but a month later a position did open, and three weeks after that I was working at Datacolor.”


Being a part of our staff for so long has afforded Ken some unusual scenarios in which he was able to walk our customers through difficult situations. He recalled one particular time “in the late ‘90s, I happened to be on vacation visiting some relatives in Florida. A distraught customer in Canada reached out to me there. They had a pretty complex server implementation for the programs they were using from us, and this color manager had accidentally deleted his entire Datacolor folder that contained all of his programs and data. The whole plant was being run by this software, so he of course was in a panic. Now this was back when you either had to be on-site or have a computer in front of you while you were on the phone, but because I was on vacation I didn’t have those options. I spent about 16 hours on the phone with him doing everything from memory and visualization of what everything looked like. Over two days we got them fully back up and running and he was extremely grateful. I have found over the years that for me, the greatest experience of working at Datacolor has been solving customer problems when they’re in crisis mode.”


Many of us nowadays can barely visualize what is currently in our pantry, much less recreate entire programs from memory. Ken’s prowess in our industry and dedication to our company do not go unnoticed, and we truly appreciate everything he contributes to our team!


Words from the Wise


You’re always one decision away from a completely different outcome in your day. To reach the best decisions and gain the most favorable results, Ken had two pieces of advice:


  • Develop a close partnership with your technology provider. They are instrumental (no pun intended!) to your overall success.
  • Keep in mind the importance of measurement integrity – everything we do is based on the quality of the data we enter into the system.

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