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A Scramble for the Remains --Waldman

December 2002

And I have heard the all too familiar reaction before. "What! Talk to companies like Xerox or HP; they're corporate copy center people or ink-jet printer manufacturers." I hear this from many commercial printers and it tells me that they're not paying attention. Not only do these companies represent what's happening, but they have a wealth of information and solutions to share with you. Commercial printers have to open their minds and start listening.

I participated in an 11-city tour recently, which was produced by Xerox. The one-day seminars featured a wealth of information delivered by industry experts, leading-edge printers, participating partner companies like Adobe, as well as Xerox personnel. Incidentally, one of the key people behind the tour was John Hamm, a Xerox vice president, who for 20 years was a commercial printer—so much for companies like Xerox not having print savvy personnel.

The tour drew good crowds, but few commercial printers—a group that really needed to be there. What was interesting was that the few commercial printers that did come seemed to get the most benefit and were among the most active in post-seminar questions and follow-up requests.

Xerox also did a shortened version of the seminars at Graph Expo, in which I also participated. My talk was about Adobe PDF Transit and the important role this product plays in making customer Web submission a reality, leading to a true automated Adobe PDF workflow complete with job ticket information. Adobe PDF Transit is a key component of Xerox's Web submission software solution. And as I stated above, this is a must in meeting the challenges the printing industry faces.

One of the highlights of the Xerox seminars during Graph Expo was Frank Romano's talk. Frank is held in such high regard that he has achieved a position of celebrity status and is always highly entertaining, as well as enlightening. He didn't let us down with his valuable insights into digital printing and one-to-one marketing.

But, with all this vital information, too many commercial printers at Graph Expo—unable to break out of their comfort zone—dwelled in the familiar booths with the big iron. What a shame! What a waste of a valuable learning opportunity.

High-Profile Reader

Incidentally, I had a real surprise at the show. While in the Xerox booth I went into a back area where they had coffee for Xerox personnel. As I poured my coffee I saw Anne Mulcahy, Xerox's CEO, standing next to me. Back in March I wrote a column stating that the future is with the ladies—Anne and Carly (HP's head). I started to mention it to her and she immediately knew what I was talking about. She had read it. At first, I was flattered that a CEO of a major corporation would read my prose.

But seeing her energy as she walked around many of the booths at Graph Expo, absorbing everything she could, convinced me that she was dead serious about her commitment to this business. The next morning, before the show opened, she gathered her personnel at the booth and gave a speech that Notre Dame's football coach would envy. She then made herself available to her people.

What does all this mean to the commercial printer? It means you should be paying attention to large, innovative companies with solutions for a dynamically changing industry—firms that may not be in the "good ol' boys network." Others are, and the future might find lions prowling your territory that aren't from the ranks of established commercial printers, reducing you to a scavenger fighting for the remains.

Headed Down South

The next big show is Graphics of the Americas in Miami Beach at the end of January (not a bad place to be at that time of year). It promises to be a good one. Be sure to stop by the Printing Impressions booth at the show to pick up your latest issue.

In fact, the exhibition is important enough to feature a live radio broadcast right from the show floor. "Into Tomorrow," with Dave Graveline, will be talking about printing technologies with some of our industries finest. Included will be Mark Michelson, editor-in-chief of Printing Impressions, our industry's leading publication. "Into Tomorrow" is on every Sunday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. (eastern time) on affiliated stations around the country, worldwide on the Armed Forces Network and on the Web at www.graveline.com. Stay tuned.

—Harry Waldman

About the Author

Harry Waldman is a consultant and has been in the printing industry for 30 years. As a former company owner, he was well-known for implementing cutting-edge technologies. He has been on many advisory boards and received several honors for his industry contributions. Waldman is also an author. His book, Computer Color Graphics, published by GATF Press, enables readers to learn today's graphic software quickly by teaching the essential concepts. He can be reached by e-mail at harry@harrywaldman.com.
 

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