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BIA University An Educational Experience

June 2002
By Dave Clossey

LAS VEGAS—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 here at the J.W. Marriott Resort April 12-15. This year's conference was dubbed "BIA University," and it provided attendees with numerous opportunities to discuss the changes within the industry as a whole and the association in particular. Of course, it was also a great place to learn a thing or two from an expert panel of speakers, a wide range of vendors and industry peers.

The BIA is a leading association for the postpress and information packaging industries. It functions as a Special Industry group of the Printing Industries of America (PIA), which further enhances the value of BIA membership.

Saturday 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.

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

Michael Evans, NPES consulting economist, 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, delivered 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 third speaker was Cal Poly professor Malcolm Kief, who discussed the 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 meat for attendees to chew on. 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.

In addition to being a forum for discussing the state of the industry as a whole, there was plenty of discussion regarding the BIA itself. Like many other trade associations, the BIA had a challenging 2001 that saw a decline in membership. However, discussions at the conference were decidedly positive. Members embraced many of the avenues the BIA is pursuing to increase the value of association membership.

The BIA's Mid-Management Seminar will be be held October 3-5 in Chicago.


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