David Savastano, Editor

The Metro New York Printing Ink Association (MNYPIA) honored Joon Choo, VP of Shamrock Technologies, with its Anthony Mauriello Man of the Year award. Choo, the 16th recipient of the award, was honored May 23, 2017 at a dinner held in his honor at the Iberia Peninsula restaurant in Newark, NJ. Shichiu Kwan of Shamrock Technologies served as emcee.

“When I first read that I was nominated for this award, I was in India,” Choo said. “I looked at the calendar, and saw it wasn’t April 1, and I asked Shichiu if this was for real. It is such a great honor, but for me, it was a splash-in-the-face moment, as I never thought an honor like this could come to me.

“I remember coming to this room and honoring the people who have won this award, and I always walked away thinking that these people are giants, and they had such a big impact on our industry. It just didn’t seem right that I would get it,” Choo added.

Choo’s path to the ink industry is unique. He grew up on a small island in Malaysia and moved to the US in 1978 to attend Beloit College in Wisconsin, where he received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1981, followed by his master’s in polymer science and engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 1983.

Joining Shamrock Technologies was another unique turn for Choo. A doctoral student at the time, Choo went on a job interview, where he met Bill Neuberg, the company’s longtime owner.

“In that interview, Bill asked me to describe for him the crystal structure of polyethylene, and when we were done, he hired me,” Choo said.

Beginning as a development chemist, Choo worked his way from the labs to technical director, and later into sales and marketing management positions within Shamrock.

Choo obtained his eMBA from Rutgers University in 1992, and then relocated to Kuala Lumpur from 1996-1999, helping to expand the Asian sales operations which led to Shamrock setting up their China Tianjin plant in 2005. He served on the Board of Directors for the Shamrock European operations located in Tongeren, Belgium, and managed global sales and marketing for a good decade. As VP, he is currently the company’s global key accounts and products leader.

He is no stranger to industry honors. Choo was awarded the prestigious TAM Service Award medal by the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers in 2011, and he was inducted as a Printing Ink Pioneer in 2015. He recently completed his 35 years of service at Shamrock, and he is looking forward to the next 35.

On the personal side, Joon is an avid golfer and photographer, a travel foodie and an experiential chef who eats everything he creates. He especially enjoys his time with his wife of 32 years, Elyse Ching, who he first met while attending church in Malaysia, and with their daughter Chrislyn and son David.

Many of his colleagues, including friends from Tokyo and Taipei, came to pay tribute to Choo, beginning with Neuberg.

“I’ve been working with Joon for 35 years, and it doesn’t seem like it was that far back,” Neuberg recalled. “Joon and I are both a little creative. He’s been a great guy to work with.”

“Joon is curious and courageous,” added Al Pape, Shamrock Technologies’ president. “Leaving from Malaysia to go to college in Wisconsin is courageous. I’ve been all around the world with Joon, and he has shown me parts of the world I have never seen. He is the most welcoming person I have ever met. He is a very, very special guy.”

“He’s the reason I am at Shamrock,” said Ron Levitt, Shamrock Technologies’ director of sales, Americas. “He’s a team player and the best in the wax industry.”

“There’s not a nicer, classier guy in the industry,” added John Jilek of InkSolutions.

In his thank you note, Choo attributed his growth and success to the many open hearted and generous friends and associates he encountered, from his college days at Beloit, to the early and current colleagues at Shamrock, and especially to the many pioneers in the industry who took the time to help coach and mentor him. “This is the best of America that I have come to know, and I am so very, very blessed,” he concluded.