On Monday, October 9, the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) Board of Directors announced Print United, the results of a partnership between SGIA and NAPCO Media that offers print service providers and industry suppliers an unrivalled platform to connect and engage.
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 sizeable 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 the impact it will have, not only just for the industry as a whole, but also for their businesses moving forward.
“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 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 Ken Ingram, VP Sales and Marketing, Screen Americas, “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.”
“Twenty years ago, printing was done by skilled craftsmen, whether it was from an offset press, a screen print press, or from an enlarger in a photo lab. The trade associations, and their respective annual gatherings, centered around each ‘skilled trade’. Today, the massive reduction in computing power, added to revolutionized ink jetting technology, is causing a convergence of virtually all printing output. It only makes sense then, that printing fall under one umbrella: Print United,” says Terry Corman, CEO, Firehouse. “Our business will be the beneficiary of this new concept because vendors will have access, in one show, to develop for and sell into, products that fit across what are now artificial boundaries. The print industry will grow and flourish with Print United.”
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 for growth — as well has provide financial benefits to attendees.
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.”
“Our focus as a university in-plant is no longer on just the traditional print offerings of years’ past, but has and must move forward to offer our customers the newest technologies and services that are out there,” says Lora Connaughton, CGCM / CMM Director, University of North Texas Printing and Distribution Solutions.
“Print United has the potential to re-energize the industry adding opportunity through exposure to more vendors, more attendees and brand contacts,” says Brian Hite, President, Image Options. Additionally, exposure to new vendors in the commercial and software space allows Image Options to gain more production efficiencies to assist them in remaining on the leading edge going into the next decade.
“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 Ingram, 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.”
“Ferrari Color and Signs.com have attended the SGIA Expo for many years. It has become the ‘go-to’ convention for our team. Expanding the vision to include all types of printing will provide a single stop for us,” says Kirk Green, President, Ferrari Color.
“I strongly believe that the partnership will provide an excellent opportunity for both vendors and attendees,” says Laura Lockett, Director, Sacramento State Reprographics & Mail Services. “Having everything in one place affords us the opportunity to not only see everything at once but to spend less on travel and decrease the amount of time away from our operations.”
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.