Preparing for 2013
Not only did Graph Expo give in-plants more opportunities to meet and talk, but in-plants had a much more visible presence at the show. There was a dedicated networking hub for them on the show floor, and The Graphic Arts Show Co. (GASC) organized educational seminars focused on in-plant issues. There were at least six seminars designed for in-plants. I had the chance to participate in the IPMA lunch-and-learn event, which had about 125 people in attendance, and offered a presentation for GASC that drew about 80 people.
In-plant managers were much more visible at these presentations, and equipment manufacturers seemed to be focusing more attention on the in-plant market. Talking to these in-plant managers yielded more of an optimistic feeling, as well. The last three years seemed to be tougher as more in-plants have been closed, outsourced or evaluated, but in conversations at the show it seems as though things are getting better.
Many said that business for their parent organizations had been improving, resulting in more printing for them and making it easier to achieve their financial goals. Believe it or not, people were starting to talk about reinvesting in their business and hiring again. Many said they were visiting the show looking for ways to build their business, instead of just working in the business.
Does that mean you can sit back and relax while you wait for things to improve? No, we are still struggling through cyclical and structural changes that are reducing the demand for printed products. The cyclical changes are tied to the slowly healing economy, while structural changes come from technologies that are disruptive to the printing industry, such as the Internet/e-mail, smart phones and e-books, all growing in popularity and reach.