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Graph Expo Delivers —Michelson

October 2007
HYPE RARELY lives up to reality. But, in the case of Graph Expo in Chicago last month, the trade show met—and, in many cases, surpassed—the expectations of exhibitors and visitors alike. More than 650 exhibitors filling more than 460,000 square feet of exhibit space made Graph Expo 2007 the largest one since 2000, and the second largest ever. It wasn’t just the sheer size of the event that delivered on its advance billing, though. Most impressive was the upbeat mood that permeated the four-day event.

Despite the sub-prime mortgage crisis and an erratic stock market capturing national headlines, Graph Expo hit on all cylinders right from the start of the show. Some credit surely goes to the fresh, albeit experienced, faces at the Graphic Arts Show Co. (GASC) now charged with running the venerable Graph Expo and PRINT shows. GASC senior execs Ralph Nappi and Chris Price have breathed new life and a new attitude into our industry’s most important annual gathering.

Also chalk up many of the 20,285 attendees that converged on McCormick Place to the realization among printers that they need to keep a steady hand on the wheel to automate their offset production, with their other hand using the onboard navigation system to map out new services that can provide added value. As exemplified on the show floor, these services range from digital printing and personalization, to wide-format output, and mailing and fulfillment capabilities. Anything and everything to enable printers to break the commodity mold.

Maybe it’s this sense of urgency that brought a large number of attendees to Graph Expo with clear goals and a readiness to make wise investments. Although there were no blockbuster product introductions that everyone was buzzing about on the show floor, exhibitors did not disappoint. Several trends also persisted, as pointed out in our extensive post-show coverage appearing on the following pages.

For one, the environmental movement has captured the attention of our industry in a big way. Several manufacturers placed a heavy emphasis on their commitments to sustainability and being good corporate citizens. From environmentally friendly inks and recycled paper offerings to those selling heavy iron equipped with waste reduction innovations, a sea change is under way to alter the perception of the printing industry from one that harms the environment to one that is sensitive to best business practices.

It’s not just suppliers. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t receive several press releases from printers, large and small, heralding FSC and/or SFI Chain-of-Custody certifications, VOC reduction initiatives, wind power usage and the like. (PRINTING IMPRESSIONS has also created a new monthly feature called “The Green Scene,” which is being introduced this month on page 96, but will debut as a complete, dedicated department in our November issue.)


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