Graph Expo A Pleasant Surprise

Higher-than-expected turnout made Graph Expo 2002 an exciting four days for both vendors and attendees.

By Mike Llewellyn &012;and Bob Neubauer

Graph Expo was back in action last month in Chicago, and from the look of the 380,000-square-foot show floor, the printing industry may soon spring back, as well. Close to 38,000 people attended the show, including buyers representing over 9,600 companies.

After last year’s big-ticket event, Print ’01, was brought to a halt by the September 11 terrorist attacks, it was reassuring to see crowded exhibit areas and overflowing equipment demos this year.

David Poulos, director of communications for the event’s organizer, the Graphic Arts Show Co., feels there was a lot to be thankful for this year.

“We were on a par with 2000,” he says, explaining that the success of the show was due to more than just solid attendance. Poulos claims that, according to vendors, the quality of new sales leads was also much higher than expected.

While many vendors said they had seen bigger shows, the 2002 Graph Expo and Converting Expo was no small tea party. Every morning, hundreds of eager attendees lined the marble floors of Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center, waiting to get inside and take a peek at some of the latest advancements in graphic arts technology.

And the exhibitors were doing their best to get their attention.

Heidelberg had the largest space—38,000 square feet, including 14 running presses. Creo sent three spooky, blue-faced mimes out into the crowd (a knockoff of the Off-Broadway show “Blue Man Group”). Then there was Screen USA, with a stilt-walking spokesman and free mod folding chairs to take home. Vendors like MAN Roland, Komori and Heidelberg did their best to put visitors at ease with makeshift coffee shops in their booths.

Industry gossip was also in abundance, as several companies held press conferences announcing partnerships, mergers, and new product lines.

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