Tim Mouw is our Manager of Applications Engineering & Technical Support for the Americas. Tim is so knowledgeable about the impact of color in many industries, and his stories always intrigue us.
Tim has authored many X-Rite Pantone blogs, including:
We recently sat down with him to learn more about his background in color and his insights about helping our customers control it.
Where has your color journey taken you over the years?
I started working in color in October of 1976 – working for Diamond Vogel Paint in Orange City, IA. I worked there while in high school and college. Then moved to Michigan and worked for BASF for 13 years in the pigment division in the application laboratory for paints and plastics. While working at BASF, I was contacted by X-Rite to be a beta test site for X-Rite’s first color formulation software, Paint-Master. After nearly a year of beta testing and working with the software, X-Rite was ready to launch the product and offered me a job to support customers. I started with X-Rite in April of 1994 as an Applications Specialist. In 2005, I became the manager of the Applications Engineering & Technical Support team for the Americas.
How have you seen X-Rite evolve, and what do you see coming?
When I joined X-Rite, handheld spectrophotometers were relative new, and X-Rite was just beginning to venture into formulation software and had the first Windows-based software for QC. Today we have enterprise software solutions that cover a wide range of applications, and the latest technology in instruments. As X-Rite launches its Total Appearance Capture solution, we will move beyond color to the entire appearance of a product.
Why do you think color management is important?
Assisting a customer with implementing a color management solution enables them to make better products more quickly, with less waste and rework. I get really excited about helping someone be more efficient in their work, and thereby improving their work life.
What do you do at X-Rite, and how do you spend most of your workday?
I manage a team that is supporting customers via phone, email, and our website. We strive to continuously improve the level of support and expertise that we offer to X-Rite customers. I also manage all of our applications team that does training in classrooms, seminars, and on site at customers. This involves matching the right trainer (based on their experience in various applications) with the customer to provide the customer with the best possible training experience. Our team in the Americas has over 250 years of experience – most of us having been in the industries we support prior to working at X-Rite.
In managing color, what do you see people struggle with the most and how can you help?
One of the biggest struggles customers face is managing standards and tolerances, especially if they are new to color measurement. Our team is very good at helping customers establish the proper methods for creating standard work for how they measure color and how to tolerance.
What types of questions are you asked most frequently?
By far the most common question we get is, “Why don’t my measurements match what I see or what someone else is measuring?”. The most common cause for this is the lack of consistency with lighting or illuminants. For example, a customer gets color measurement data for D65 (daylight) but then looks at it in the office under a fluorescent light source.
What’s the funniest/most unique question you’ve ever received?
Does the color of my eyes affect how I see color? The answer, of course, is no.
What are some unique surfaces you’ve seen people measure?
Customers measuring the natural things in our world – fur, feathers, leaves, rocks, etc. Customers who are measuring extremely small items. All of these are challenges, but that’s what makes this all so interesting – a new challenge every day.
What drives you crazy about color?
Again it is tied to natural things – or trying to make something look like it’s natural. Wood is a great example. A beautiful piece of wood that is properly finished looks great – but the reason it looks great is the variability of that color – the different shades throughout the grain. Now the “crazy” part – we want to make that variability controlled so we can make it the same every time. Extremely difficult.
What do you do when you’re not helping others manage color?
I’m very into music – I actually majored in vocal music in college. It’s quite interesting that the team of applications people worldwide within X-Rite is full of musicians. Maybe we need to start our own band. I’m also an avid soccer (football) and basketball fan.
What are your favorite Pantone® Colors?
PMS 166 (orange) and PMS 289 (blue) because these are the official colors of my favorite college team – Hope College in Holland Michigan – Go Hope!
What’s one thing you’d like to share with our audience?
Don’t get frustrated trying to control color. We can certainly help with that. But it’s also important to just enjoy the beauty of color in the things we see every day.