It's Show Time!
Welcome to New Orleans and the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center! For the next three days, you can immerse yourself in the complexities of the graphic and visual communications industry. With more than 40 educational sessions and special events, plus nearly 600 exhibitors and over a quarter-million square feet of booth space, there is a lot of ground to cover.
“I know it’s difficult to take even a day away from the shop, but it’s also important to spend time working on your business. In fact, it’s critical to get that perspective. The SGIA Expo allows you to make the most of time away from the shop by exposing you to the greatest breadth of printing technologies you’ll find in one place,” says Ford Bowers, President and CEO, SGIA (Booth 2245).
But it’s not just the size of the show that makes the Expo special. What sets the SGIA Expo even further apart is the way it brings the various communities within printing together and inspires creative solutions.
“The SGIA Expo continues to be one of the most significant shows in the graphic arts market and clearly demonstrates that the industry is not in decline,” says Randall Paar, Manager, Marketing - Display Graphics, Canon Solutions America Inc. (Booths 2435 and 2525). “It’s not simply about printing cheaper and faster, but about reinventing ourselves, finding inspiration, forging new relationships and making print fun again!”
“SGIA Expo attendees should come away form the show knowing that there are profit opportunities out there for them,” echoes Frank Mallozzi, SVP, Global Sales and Marketing, EFI (Booth 1501). “This event illustrates the growth opportunities with digital print.”
But with so much to experience at the 2017 SGIA Expo, where do you start? To get the most from it, you’ll need a strategy that puts your business’ needs first.
Explore the Floor
Changes in technology, advances in inks, substrates and software, and the opportunities they open up continue to transform the way images are produced and redefine the ways printers can enter new markets. It can clearly be seen in the SGIA membership mix, in industry research and on the Expo floor. You’ll find technologies including high-production inkjet systems focused on corrugated printing, labeling and other systems that expand packaging offerings, and wide-format systems (and materials) that expand commercial printing capabilities. These include new media and textile products, the expansion of dye-sublimation, software solutions to aid workflow and color management, and solutions to convert print into sellable product.
“Every time I attend the SGIA Expo and see the equipment, consumables and tools associated with our many print communities - graphics and sign, garment decoration, industrial printing, printed electronics, commercial printing and packaging - it drives home the point that the lines that once separated industry segments have blurred,” Bowers says. “The more you see, the better equipped your business will be to adapt and compete.”
Terry Mitchell, Director of Marketing, FUJIFILM North America Corporation, Graphic Systems Division (Booth 1529), agrees. “The sign and display graphics display market continues to grow, and there are lots of opportunities to serve this market,” he says. “There are new and unique applications you can create using new inks, substrates and equipment. Creating these new applications for the markets you serve will differentiate your offer and will also fuel more growth in this market. Adopting new technology will help print providers gain an edge in the market, become more efficient, stay competitive, and enable them to respond better to print buyer demands.”
Expect to see a surge in inkjet technology developments at the Expo. (Tomorrow’s cover article highlights some of the top product debuts at the Expo.) For commercial printers and signage shops alike, there’s big money to be made with it. “As the wide-format market continues to expand into décor markets and corporate environments as examples, taking a look at Ricoh’s inkjet technologies can help broaden revenue streams,” says Dan Johansen, Marketing Manager, Wide Format Solutions, Commercial and Industrial Print Group, Ricoh USA (Booth 1351). “For commercial printers, walking away from SGIA knowing that the average gross margin contribution of wide-format is two to 10 times that of cut-sheet presses in many markets is a key takeaway for their businesses. Exploring these technologies via an existing partner is the most streamlined and effective way to expand their customer base.”
And it’s not always about buying the cheapest printer or finishing device on the floor. There’s more to an equipment purchase than the price and savvy shop owners can explore all the differences at the Expo. “I think the industry has matured and companies are looking for printers that can produce work at the lowest possible cost. This may not be the least expensive printer, but the one that has the lowest cost of ownership,” says Larry D’Amico, Director of Sales, Durst Image Technology US, LLC (Booth 1945).
“Big printers and other such gear are exciting because of their size, but don’t overlook the safety and efficiencies that result from pairing them with the best finishing and material handling products,” reminds Jen Kester, Marketing Manager, Foster (Booth 3527).
“SGIA is an excellent opportunity for our customers to keep up with a rapidly changing industry and provide direct feedback to manufacturers on the equipment and processes they use in their businesses,” says Joe Abreu, Director of Advertising and Marketing, M&R (Booths 531 and 621).
“The SGIA Expo helps attendees gain a better understanding of printable and overlaminate graphics materials that perform at the highest level while also being safer for the environment,” says Kevin Beckerdite, Product Manager at SWM (Booth 4216).
Take the time to get inspired. In addition to all of the technology on the expo floor and all of the education aimed at amping up your business, be sure to stop in the Nouvelle Ballroom, home to the Golden Image Gallery. You will have the opportunity to see the best in printing and print technologies — the entries in the Golden Image and Product of the Year competitions. Take a few minutes to visit and get inspired.
“I invite you to take in all the Expo has to offer. See, experience, listen and learn. Explore the Expo floor, and attend educational sessions to learn the latest on equipment, techniques, markets and business efforts. Build your network by meeting people both inside and outside of your company’s core competency,” says Bowers.
“In addition to a feel for the scope of the printing industry, I expect attendees will leave with a greater understanding of the blurring boundaries between industry segments and what those shifts might mean to their businesses,” continues Bowers. “Use your time at the show to consider technologies and products that could open up your business to new directions.”
Denise Gustavson is the Editorial Director and Special Projects Editor for the Printing & Packaging Group, which includes Printing Impressions, packagePRINTING, In-plant Graphics and Wide-Format Impressions magazines, among other brands. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of Wide-Format Impressions.