NPES Buys Out GRAPH EXPO, PRINT Show Co-Owners' Stakes as Part of Strategic Business Plan Launch
In what's being heralded by NPES The Association for Suppliers of Printing, Publishing and Converting Technologies President Thayer Long as "a defining moment not just for NPES, but for the entire industry," NPES announced that it's embarking on a new strategic business plan. As part of the multiyear initiative, the association has acquired the one-third ownerships stakes previously held by the Printing Industries of America (PIA) and Idealliance (its predecessor, NAPL) in the Graphic Arts Show Co. (GASC) to assume full ownership of the GRAPH EXPO and PRINT trade exhibitions.
Taking full ownership ends a nearly 35-year partnership of the three associations sharing the net proceeds from the annual event, but Long stressed to a select group of industry journalists in a conference call yesterday afternoon that PIA and Idealliance will continue to partner with NPES to promote the GRAPH EXPO and PRINT shows, as well as other industry events and advocacy efforts. "We felt in order to transform the show to align with NPES priorities we needed to be the sole owner. It wasn't anything about what our partners did or didn't do," he said.
Financial arrangements regarding the ownership transaction are not being made public, but Long indicated that, as the sole proprietor, NPES will now be better suited to make significant investments in the annual exhibition to increase value for all of its stakeholders. Beyond its traditional focus on print providers and printing industry suppliers, the value chain is also being extended outward to include print buyers, brand owners and marketing services agencies.
Long added that the exhibition will no longer be judged solely on how much square footage it comprises. "It's not how big the show is — the value is how successful we are to help attendees solve their business problems. It's attendees first: their experience, their takeaway value ... providing a place to help them be more successful. That's the lens we're going to be looking through at everything.
Click here or on the video below to watch our exclusive one-on-one interview with NPES President Thayer Long following the announcement:
"We're taking an outside-in approach to learn from their 'up at night' challenges and then provide solutions," Long continued. "We don't know all of the answers today, but do have several concepts and ideas. [We plan to] test them, validate them. To be successful, we have to be agile and nimble."
The new ownership announcement is just one part of what NPES calls a new direction embodied in its "2017-2020 Strategic Business Plan." Finalized last December, NPES developed it based on data gleaned from its outreach to more than 13,000 stakeholders — OEMs (including NPES members and non-members alike), printers and others — using surveys to ascertain their "what keeps me up at night" issues; via extensive telephone interviews with industry leaders; and through strategic planning sessions with NPES board members and staff.
Through the data obtained in the exploratory process, NPES learned that to effectively engage, advance and grow the industry, the value chain must be properly aligned and working together in lockstep, according to Long. "NPES's new strategic vision offers a guiding blueprint for all industry stakeholders to achieve success through alignment, which is critical for sustained industry growth."
Centered around two priority focus areas, the over-arching goals of the three-year roadmap are to: "Convene, Lead, and Drive the Global Printing & Imaging Value Chain toward Operational Excellence," and "Position and Engage the Global Printing & Imaging Industry for Growth throughout the Value Chain."
To advance the plan, 10 Advisory Groups comprised of industry stakeholders from across the value chain are currently developing initiatives within the six key "pillars" of the plan, titled:
1. Research: to provide actionable data for immediate implementation for the Industry's value chain;
2. Facilitate: as "master collaborator," convene the value chain in interactive industry events to conduct education, business networking and commerce;
3. Advocate: engage the value chain to leverage advocacy and drive favorable business outcomes for the industry;
4. Brand: the association as the heart of "The Industry" for all members of the value chain;
5. Expand: new opportunities for industry research, global trade, business development and position and promote the Industry into markets of opportunity through global channel development; and
6. Train: by serving as the industry's education distribution channel and workforce development agent.
Among these, Long stressed the need for NPES to develop industry research that includes action-oriented strategies; initiatives to help business networking; a more robust advocacy strategy, including those focused on legislative and regulatory issues; an industry-wide emphasis on the development of global channels; and workforce development, both from the standpoint of skills training and industry recruitment.
PRINT 17 will be held Sept. 10-14 at McCormick Place in Chicago, followed by GRAPH EXPO 18 again in Chicago and — although Orlando, Fla. is slated for 2019 — Long said it still remains on the table where the event will be held that year. He also hinted that further announcements about changes and improvements to this year's exhibition, and future GRAPH EXPO/PRINT trade shows, will be forthcoming in the weeks and months ahead. Aside from possible new attractions on the show floor itself, Long noted that education will also play an even more important role going forward.