Uniting the Print and Packaging Communities
One of the biggest issues facing the package printing industry is that while printers, converters and suppliers are all well aware of the latest technological advancements, there's been a gap in communicating that information to brand owners. Print United —announced on Monday, October 9, by the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) Board of Directors — provides an opportunity to bridge that gap and share the impact that printing and packaging can have on brands.
For package printers, specifically, Print United will offer access to potential customers and partners that they may not have crossed paths with at other industry events.
Additionally, by bringing together all printing technologies, package printers can gain a better understanding of how they can access new opportunities. Much like in commercial printing, convergence is happening in packaging. Label, folding carton, flexible packaging and corrugated converters are seeking to expand their repertoires. Print United will provide an excellent platform to discover new technologies for printers and converters to expand their product lines.
Print United is a strategic response to what the market has been telling us for years. “Print United reflects what we understand is taking place in the larger community of print. It is supported by anecdotal reports from exhibitors and printers and is backed up by research across all of the print segments,” said Rich Thompson of Ad Graphics, Chairman of the SGIA Board of Directors after the unanimous vote by the SGIA Board of Directors in the article appearing in Day One of the 2017 SGIA Expo Daily.
While it’s not too surprising that the announcement was well received from the supplier and printer community, it did send a sizable ripple through the industry. Some commentary from the industry’s trade press and consultants includes WhatTheyThink’s Richard Romano. NAPCO Media has also published a blog by Patrick Henry.
Additionally, we have received numerous comments from suppliers and print shop owners about how they view this announcement and the impact it will have, not only just for the industry as a whole, but also for their businesses moving forward.
In talking about “this extraordinary collaboration,” Mark Turk, president and CEO, International Label & Printing Co., Inc. discussed how the key to survival today “is to be able to encompass all of the technological endeavors of the marketplace — and the graphic reproduction industry is no exception. This has definitely hit the mark! Two very dynamic organizations have teamed up to form a very powerful alliance, which will significantly impact and benefit our industry for many years to come. My congratulations to all those responsible for this terrific idea and I look forward to enthusiastically participating wherever and whenever I can.”
“I think it is a huge step in the right direction for our industry and our community,” says John Fulena, Vice President, Commercial & Industrial Printing Business Group, Ricoh. “Trade shows are an important piece to our community and to our business. We need to find better ways to make them more economical for the vendors and more beneficial to attend for the buyers and attendees. The focus needs to be not only on the equipment, but the educational, business development and other opportunities we can provide to our customers. Bringing everything under one roof one time per year makes a lot of sense.”
“The printing industry as we know it today is changing in a rapid and positive direction, fueled by the convergence of printing technologies that are redefining many of the market segments and traditional print techniques,” comments Dean Demarco, Director of Graphic Services, IDL Worldwide. “Print United will be the answer to the print community’s needs to better understand and meet the challenges associated with this convergence. The experience this new event will create for our community will be much deeper and comprehensive in the technologies, educational, service and supplies side, that will help everyone understand what the best business model will be for them in the future.”
“Print United is the future of the printing industry. It mirrors the events currently taking place in the market: convergence and consolidation. A show that covers all technologies relating to print under one roof at one time is good for the OEMs and supporting vendors, the printing community and the print buyers. This has been long overdue,” says Scott Crosby, VP Sales & Marketing, Holland & Crosby Limited.
Impact on Printers
By providing attendees access to all subsets of the print and visual communications markets, Print United will bring attendees near limitless opportunities.
In order to meet the needs of customers, print shops need to stay current with new technology and offer more products than ever before. “Adding production printing, finishing, software and mail to Print United will allow me to see everything under one roof,” says Donna Cooper Horbelt, CGCM, Director, Auxiliary Enterprises - Printing & Media Services, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. “Print United will make it much easier to analyze and add new products that will best fit my institution’s needs without increasing my travel budget. This is exciting, since many in-plants like myself are interested in adding specialty items to their list of products offered.”
“I’m excited to have this in the US to bring everyone together to see what the printing and packaging industry really is. That’s also really important from a brand standpoint to show what we can do for brands,” says Steve Huppert, VP and COO, Warneke Paper Box. “We have to be able to gain the interest, recruit and retain young talent. This would be a great showcase to highlight the exciting career opportunities available in our industry.”
“A visit to this type of show by a customer becomes far more productive and cost effective as they will be able investigate a wider and more complete range of solutions from all vendors in one setting, versus say the two or three shows that they would have had to budget for and attend in the past,” says Ken Ingram, VP Sales and Marketing, Screen Americas, echoing the comments from most print shop owners. “Many customers today are involved in different market segments as they have been diversifying their businesses over the past few years. To have a trade show line up with that as well will be a big plus for the customer. For many they will also see new options to further diversify and grow their business that they had not even considered in the past — simply because they were not aware.”
Impact on Suppliers
For print industry suppliers, the partnership offers tremendous value, as it will leverage NAPCO Media’s commercial, in-plant and package printing audiences and provide a “one-stop” exposition for all technologies and markets within the graphic and visual communications industry.
By combining all of the market segments and solutions into one large trade show, it allows everyone — suppliers and attendees — to focus on one major event. “As a vendor,” comments Ingram, “it means we will be able to invest most of our trade show budget into one event and showcase all of our inkjet solutions into one larger, more comprehensive booth. In our opinion, Print United will be a true win/win for all involved — customers, vendors and the show organizers alike.”
David Wilkins, VP Sales & Marketing US, Digital Solutions, Xeikon, echoes those sentiments. “With the convergence of the wide-format, commercial print and packaging markets, the potential of a single venue meeting all those markets is really strategic for vendors like Xeikon. Bringing our customers — direct mail marketers, commercial printers along with labels and packaging converters — together in one location will help us tremendously. We look to benefiting from industry synergies that make sense for our customers, prospects and partners, as well as provide the best utilization of our resources.”
Print United will fundamentally change the landscape for print technologies in North America. The convergence of technology and capabilities underway is leading printers to expand their services and products into adjacent markets very rapidly, creating new opportunities and growing their businesses as a result. With a dynamic show floor, education, programming and services, Print United will present a broad vision of these opportunities under one roof, as well as the means for printers to expand their businesses.