PIA/NAPL Unification Talks: Good for In-plants?

The printing industry, like a lot of the economy, is hurting. We all know that. Nationally, printing industry sales are down. There are fewer commercial printing companies. Organizations are closing or downsizing in-plants. The used-press dealers are overstocked with some pretty sophisticated hardware acquired from out-of-business printers at bargain prices. It’s not a pretty picture.

So it should come as no surprise that two preeminent printing trade groups—Printing Industries of America (PIA) and the National Association of Printing Leadership (NAPL)—have started “unification” talks. In a February 23 release, Michael Makin, president and CEO of Printing Industries of America, said “…after a full day of very productive and open discussions, the group [industry leaders attending the Vision 3 Summit] was able to reach unanimous consensus to move forward with a plan and process to address the above issues which will greatly benefit members of the groups as well as the industry in general [my emphasis].”

Mr. Makin continues: “A special task force has been formed consisting of representatives from both NAPL and Printing Industries of America which will collaborate and move forward with a unification process.”

In a letter to NAPL members, NAPL President & CEO Joe Truncale stated, “In response to requests from many company and associate members, NAPL’s leadership entered into discussions with the leadership of Printing Industries of America about the possible unification of the associations into a single entity that would best serve the interests of all our members and our industry [my emphasis].”

So that sounds like it’s a done deal, and while there are planning and organizational issues to iron out, the two organizations appear to be on a path to merge. A similar proposal was rejected by NAPL in 2009. I wonder what’s changed.

How will this affect us as in-plant managers? That’s a good question. Last time I looked we’re part of the printing industry. A pretty sizeable part of it, in fact. But as usual, with the exception of In-Plant Graphics, printing and graphic arts media coverage will focus on how the unification impacts the commercial printing industry, but not the industry in general—and certainly not in-plants.

Ray Chambers, CGCM, MBA, has invested over 30 years managing and directing printing plants, copy centers, mail centers and award-winning document management facilities in higher education and government.

Most recently, Chambers served as vice president and chief information officer at Juniata College. Chambers is currently a doctoral candidate studying Higher Education Administration at the Pennsylvania State University (PSU). His research interests include outsourcing in higher education and its impact on support services in higher education and managing support services. He also consults (Chambers Management Group) with leaders in both the public and private sectors to help them understand and improve in-plant printing and document services operations.

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