IPMA Strikes California Gold
Though the great outsourcing debate may be the most-remembered session from June's In-plant Printing and Mailing Association (IPMA) conference, in truth the entire three-day conference was filled with memorable moments. That debate, during which industry consultants Howie Fenton and Barb Pellow hashed out the pros and cons of outsourcing, capped the action-packed conference, which drew nearly 170 attendees to Costa Mesa, Calif.
As usual, a buzz of excitement filled the air at the world’s largest gathering of in-plant managers as attendees networked, checked out new technologies in the vendor fair and cheered a succession of informative and inspirational speakers. On Monday evening, the awards ceremony took place. Winners of In-Print 2018 were honored as were recipients of the IPMA Awards. They were:
- Print Center of the Year—Bloomberg Ink
- Mail Center of the Year—State of Colorado
- Print Innovation Award—Pennsylvania State University
- Organizational Impact Award—Messiah College
- In-house Promotional Excellence Award—Connecticut College
In addition, three devoted in-plant industry supporters were recognized with Outstanding Contributor Awards:
- Ray Chambers, long-time consultant and former in-plant manager.
- Christopher Donlon, IPMA awards chair and manager of Kohler’s in-plant.
- Debbie Pavletich, former Briggs & Stratton in-plant manager, now with Ricoh USA.
At the member meeting, IPMA President Dwayne Magee told his in-plant peers that IPMA plans to go on the offensive in spreading the in-plant message to business leaders who, for too long now, have been hearing only a pro-outsourcing message. In an effort to more proactively advocate for the in-plant business model, IPMA will seek to have a presence in the magazines that VPs read and at the conferences they attend.
Magee talked about the association’s deal with Xerox, in which the company promised to include the in-plant manager in any meetings it holds with the parent organization about potential outsourcing. He mentioned an initiative to bring CEOs to the IPMA conference to see for themselves how strong the in-plant industry is. He noted IPMA’s coordination of a research project and white paper on “Myths and Misperceptions of Outsourcing.” And he announced a new in-plant justification tool being developed for members with the help of long-time consultant Ray Chambers.
At the meeting, attendees learned that IPMA membership is approaching 700 now, up more than 50 members from last year. IPMA Road Show events are planned for the coming months, starting with one hosted by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s in-plant in Harrisburg, Sept. 16-18.
Off to a Great Start
The conference started out strong and didn’t let up. After an opening presentation by IPG Editor Bob Neubauer on in-plant trends, applications and software use, the real motivational speaker of the conference took over. Speaking from his wheelchair, Scott Burrows revealed how a car accident when he was 19 left him a paraplegic. He detailed his struggles to start moving his hands and how he never stopped believing he could regain movement in his limbs.
“I was willing to fail, but I was unwilling to quit,” he said.
He had a vision of what he wanted to accomplish and he set his mind to making it happen. At the conference, Burrows challenged managers to develop a vision of their own.
“What is your vision? What are you really fighting for today?” he asked.
He encouraged managers to have the grit to persevere and accomplish their goals. Then Burrows demonstrated the result of his own perseverance, to the shock of the entire audience, when he rose from his wheelchair and walked across the stage.
The Kindness of Strangers
Another keynote speaker, Leon Logothetis, star of The Kindness Diaries on Netflix, talked about some of his experiences traveling the world and relying on the kindness of others. His mission, he said, is to inspire compassion in others.
“To change the world, all you need to do is change one life,” he insisted. Kindness is simply helping someone feel less alone, he said, and he challenged attendees to carry out one act of kindness to help another person feel less lonely.
Most speakers at the conference, however, talked more directly about in-plant issues. Some, like Marcie Carr, director of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Publications, discussed their in-plant’s evolution. In her case the shop shut down its offset presses, added an inkjet press and became a full-service mailer, among other changes.
She stressed the importance of listening to your team’s honest feedback, not fearing failure (as long as you document why it happened), getting employees to take ownership of changes and creating measurable milestones, with time built in to celebrate each success.
In a similar presentation about in-plant transformations, Frank Davis, director of the University of Washington’s in-plant, discussed the lean changes his operation has made over the past eight years. During that time, the shop went from 160 employees to 77, reduced overtime by half through cross-training, transitioned from offset to digital, eliminated silos and adopted a team approach. In the process, the in-plant has become financially self sustaining.
Employees submit their lean ideas, Davis said, which are evaluated and implemented if feasible. One idea a few years ago was to create a bicycle delivery program for mail, which Davis detailed in a separate session. That program, which eventually eliminated all mail truck deliveries from main campus, has been an award-winning success.
In addition to taking part in the outsourcing debate, Fenton gave a presentation titled “Creating a Competitive Pricing Analysis and Pricing Strategy.” He explained that pricing is growing in importance because the facilities management companies and outsourcers are quoting rock-bottom pricing for commodity products. If your in-plant doesn’t have enough volume it may not be competitive. Switching, however, from a cost-plus-pricing model to a value-based model allows you to reduce those commodity prices and increase the prices on the products with more value.
The steps in this process, Fenton said, are as follows:
- Identify the top 20 applications.
- Calculate the total cost of ownership (TCO) per piece.
- Compare to the TCO of external products.
- If it is high, add software automation or process control.
- Then employ value-based pricing strategy.
Three memorable sessions covered the genesis of the Church of Scientology International's in-plant, the ups and downs one in-plant went through in pursuit of an inkjet press and how in-plants can develop high-performing teams. These will be covered in separate online articles.
Among the other sessions at the conference:
- Ricoh’s Dan Johansen filled the room with his presentation on wide-format printing. He discussed the different technologies, the diversity of applications and offered an economic review of how adding wide-format printing can benefit an in-plant.
- A panel of in-plant managers from Orange County Public Schools, Alfred State College and the University of Delaware shared ideas to help in-plants succeed. They covered new technology, business management, workforce change management and relevancy. “When communicating a change to your staff,” noted Alfred State’s Catherine Chambers, “the best way to do it is to state the change and then state how that change is going to affect that person, that team, and then how it’s going to impact the organization.”
- Roundtable discussions split attendees into groups to talk about issues faced in different types of in-plants. At a roundtable for small shops, managers asked how others find time to add new services (answer: make time or risk becoming obsolete), shared ideas of how they have added equipment to reduce manual processes, and revealed that outsourcing work they can’t produce efficiently has increased their business.
- Ryan Kiley, of Ricoh, gave a presentation on augmented reality and how in-plants can use it to add value to printed pieces, such as by linking textbook pages with online assets for additional information.
During the conference, attendees learned the location of IPMA 2019. It will take place in Louisville, Ky., from June 2-6.Watch for our continuing coverage of IPMA 2018.
Related story: The Great Outsourcing Debate
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Graphics since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited more than 130 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, cosponsored by IPMA and In-plant Graphics.