GRAPH EXPO 2010: Something for Everyone

Like the the swallows returning to Capistrano or the L.A. Lakers reaching the NBA finals, Chuck Stempler can be counted on to make his annual pilgrimage. Come fall, the president and CEO of AlphaGraphics Seattle can be found in the Mecca of U.S. printing trade shows: Chicago’s McCormick Place for GRAPH EXPO.

Stempler tracks the industry quite closely, following its politics and economy with an eye toward the impact it may have on his bottom line. As a member of the 
AlphaGraphics network, he avails himself of any and every educational opportunity that comes down the pike, and the organization provides ample training and informational seminars/classes.

Yet the beauty of GRAPH EXPO, for Stempler, lies in the unknown. Here’s a well-read executive of a $10 million printing operation who prepares a comprehensive needs and wish list, yet allows himself to wander the floors of McCormick Place South for two days, completely without preparation, and completely open to what he might stumble on in the next aisle.

“I try to allocate two days to walk, without a specific plan, through as much of the show as possible,” Stempler says. “It’s what I don’t know that I really need to know.”

Herein lies the beauty of Chicago in the fall—the joy of discovery.

Suffice to say, 2010 has been an eventful year for Ralph Nappi, president of the Graphic Arts Show Co. (GASC), which stages GRAPH EXPO. The news has been both positive and challenging for Nappi and GASC. The 500-pound gorilla for Nappi is the fact that two of the industry’s biggest exhibitor names, Heidelberg and 
Komori, opted not to take booths at this year’s show, but have signed on for future GRAPH EXPO events.

The offset press manufacturers have their reasons for not attending and Nappi is as sympathetic, and empathetic, as anyone in the industry. That the companies didn’t opt for a scaled-back presence in Chicago stood as a bit of a disappointment for him.

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