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BIA CONFERENCE RECAP -- Class is in Session

June 2002
BY DAVE CLOSSEY


Though the winds of change continue to blow throughout the graphic arts industry, one constant remains: There is always something to learn. The Binding Industries Association International (BIA) provided a valuable educational forum at its recent international conference, held recently at the J.W. Marriott Resort in Las Vegas.

This year's conference was dubbed BIA University, and it provided attendees with opportunities to discuss the changes within the industry as a whole and the association in particular.

An opening reception gave attendees a chance to rub elbows with industry peers. According to Brent Eckhart, president of Eckhart & Co. and the outgoing BIA president, "There is no better opportunity to network with my peers from around the country—or around the world, for that matter—than this conference."

The first morning opened with two roundtable discussions. These "Early Riser Discussions" were a daily feature of the three business days of the conference, and gave attendees the opportunity to bounce problems and ideas off of industry peers in an informal setting. The opening ceremony followed, and led into the day's slate of guest speakers.

Powerful Future

First up was Niall Power, president and CEO of the Printing Industries of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin (PII and PIW), who opened with a report on association interrelationships and his vision of the future of the BIA.

Next was NPES consulting economist Michael Evans, who delivered a sobering perspective on the economic landscape both now and for the immediate future. A few of his forecasts: There will be a continuing lack of pricing power; increased high- and low-end consumer spending; and an overvalued dollar.

David Perkins, of Amvest Financial Group, was next with a state-of-the-industry report on mergers and acquisitions. Perkins provided an update on several major industry consolidators, and concluded that most haven't performed to the lofty expectations they set during their buying sprees.

The morning's fourth speaker was Cal Poly professor Malcolm Kief, who discussed education and training of the binding industry's future work force. Kief urged the attendees to work with local technical schools, universities and association affiliates as additional educational resources.

The rest of the conference provided plenty of educational opportunities. Each morning featured small roundtable discussions around a specific topic, which ranged from polypropylenes and adhesives to a well-attended session on employee/management relations.

The value of these intimate discussions was not lost on attendees. Many expressed that they were the motivating factor behind their attendance at the conference.
 

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