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IPMA Goes Full Throttle in Milwaukee

The In-plant Printing and Mailing Association celebrated its 50th anniversary last month with a busy, information-packed conference that drew more than 130 in-plants to Milwaukee.

July 2014 By Bob Neubauer
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Despite some chilly spring weather, Milwaukee gave a warm welcome to the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association last month. More than 130 in-plant managers were on hand to celebrate IPMA's 50th anniversary during a very busy conference.

Their ranks included many first-time and long-absent attendees, which added a new dynamic to the discussions throughout the four-day event. A number of government printers from the National Government Publishing Association, now part of IPMA, were there this year, as well as two attendees from Australia.

Frequent themes at the conference included adding value with new services, adding efficiency with Web-to-print, measuring and benchmarking services, and avoiding being outsourced. These topics and many others were discussed in dozens of educational sessions led by in-plant managers, consultants and vendors. The detailed questions from the audience that followed many managers' presentations reflected a keen interest among attendees in the responsibilities and capabilities of their peers.

Between sessions, managers networked and browsed the booths in the vendor exhibit area, which featured 38 vendors—the highest number in years. The conference was capped with a well-orchestrated tour of Briggs & Stratton's in-plant, home to an impressive variety of equipment, including a four-color Ryobi press, a Kodak NexPress and a new Konica Minolta bizhub PRESS 2250P. (For many attendees, though, the highlight of the week was the tour of the Harley Davidson museum during the Tuesday evening outing—a venue that also inspired this year's conference slogan: "Full Throttle Communication.")

Retired RIT professor and industry sage Frank Romano provided an appropriate kickoff for the conference Sunday evening when he celebrated IPMA's 50 years of existence by reviewing the graphic arts technologies that have come and gone over the past half century.

The next morning, magician, comedian, author and self-proclaimed "dis-illusionist" Billy Riggs really got things going with an opening keynote that included plenty of magic and impressive "mind reading" tricks, along with some inspirational messages.

"You can either live your fears or you can live your dreams," he declared. Most people spend their lives in fear of things that don't amount to anything, he said. The greatest illusion in life is that you don't have what it takes, he added. If you don't believe in yourself, your employees won't either.

Seven Habits of Successful In-­plants

Returning to the IPMA conference this year, Barb Pellow, of InfoTrends, gave managers a lot to think about with her presentation on the seven habits of successful in-plants in a digital world. On her list:

  1. Be unreasonably aspirational. She urged managers to set goals in order to get results, and pointed to the winners of the IPMA awards as examples of in-plants that have done this to great effect.
  2. Be digital…be big. She noted that process color printing is growing rapidly and that inkjet will account for 58 percent of the industry’s print volume by 2017, according to InfoTrends.
  3. Be different. “Beyond print, what services have the most value?” she asked, pointing to value-added offerings like fulfillment, mail, mobile marketing, email messaging, website design, cross-media and others
  4. Follow the money. Be efficient, and create value by reducing costs, Pellow said, noting that for every dollar spent on print, $3 is spent on overhead. Add automation to reduce this, she encouraged.
  5. Be quick and easy to work with. She stressed that Web-to-print gives customers 24/7 access, and brings many other benefits.
  6. Acquire the capabilities to be a full-­service provider. Take a long, hard look at the skills your in-plant will need, and acquire them by hiring the right people.
  7. Be customer-­obsessed. You have only one boss, Pellow said, and that is your customer. He can fire everyone by spending his money elsewhere.





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