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GRAPHICS OF THE AMERICAS 2002 -- Shining in Miami

April 2002
BY MARK MICHELSON


With its emphasis on attracting graphic arts professionals from both North and Latin America, the 27th annual Graphics of the Americas (GOA) exhibition, held in early February at the Miami Beach Convention Center, bucked current industry trends of weak buying activity and light trade show traffic.

All told, 22,101 people attended the event, which featured over 500 exhibitors representing approximately 1,500 different companies and occupying nearly 1,400 booths.

The Printing Association of Florida (PAF), the exhibition organizer, points to several key factors to explain the strong showing in light of recent economic turmoil.

"As the first major printing, converting and graphic arts show of the year, many buyers have a brand new budget for purchases and acquisitions," notes Chris Price, vice president and general manager for Graphics of the Americas. With its unique, dual market in reaching North and Latin American buyers, he adds, this diversity means that a strong market in one region can offset economic turmoil in another.

Additionally, in anticipation of shrinking travel budgets, GOA increased its marketing efforts for the 2002 edition to help guarantee strong visitor traffic.

"GOA 2002 has restored my faith in the value of trade shows," praised Mark Pellman, sales director of Baum USA, following his company's participation as an exhibitor. "I've been burning up my cell phone batteries by selling equipment and answering leads that I got from this show."

According to PAF officials, Heidelberg—the world's largest manufacturer of printing presses and equipment—also reported strong show sales and a surprisingly high number of prospective sales garnered from among the attendees. Likewise, Berkshire Westwood sold every piece of equipment in its booth "two-fold," revealed Juan Gomez, digital manager for the distributor.

Some of the exhibitor success can also be attributed to the expanded market areas included within the show.

For example, a record 70+ converting equipment manufacturers displayed their latest innovations, including high-profile companies like Bielomatik, Bobst Group and Mark Andy, among others. "Our exhibitors recognize that more than 40 percent of our attendees are from Latin America, where the traditional printer is also involved in converting to some degree," says Price. "And the large number of manufacturers means attendees benefit from competitive pricing and selection."

Taking a Test Drive

Booths focused on design and prepress technologies also grew exponentially from past shows, with exhibits from Adobe, Quark, Markzware Software and more illustrating the convergence of these two market sectors. GOA also featured a 600-square-foot area of the show floor where visitors could actually test-drive the newest versions of popular design software such as Adobe InDesign 2.0, QuarkXPress 5.0 and Photoshop on computers supplied by show management.

"We spotted this trend early on and aggressively pursued those companies that our attendees want to visit," Price adds.

The same can be said of the merging of digital/variable printing and traditional offset printing technologies. Agfa, Creo, Indigo, Kodak Polychrome Graphics, MAN Roland and Screen, among others, featured equipment designed to help printers compete in both the traditional and digital markets.

"A show like ours allows the traditional printer to see the emerging technologies and determine how they can help him expand his niche by providing add-on services," Price contends.

Other GOA 2002 highlights included:

* The 19th annual Graphic Arts Leaders of the Americas (GALA) awards gala and the separate Salsa Celebration, which are organized by the PAF and co-sponsored by Sun Chemical; CONLATINGRAF, the confederation of Latin American graphic arts industries, Artes Graficas/Conversion magazines; as well as Printing Impressions and its sister title, Package Printing.

Each year two recipients—one from North America and one from Latin America—are selected for this honor. This year's honorees included Hans Peetz-Larsen, CEO of Heidelberg Americas, and José Luis Zamora Contreras, CEO of Procoel S.A. of Mexico.

"These industry leaders were selected for this award in recognition of their lifetime industry achievement and for their significant contributions to the advancement of the graphic arts," states Mike Streibig, PAF president.

Held on the show floor immediately after closing, the Salsa Celebration featured live Latin music and dancing for both attendees and exhibitors.

* A press conference was jointly held by the PAF and PIA/GATF announcing an industry-wide initiative to raise the awareness of printing among the general public and to unite our highly fragmented industry. "Print: The Original Information Technology" has been adopted as the campaign theme and will be featured on a wide variety of materials, including truck decals, posters, billboards, bumper stickers, letterhead, business cards and invoices, yellow pages advertisements and shipping cards, etc.

* The creation and reproduction of 1,500 limited-edition lithographs by Lionel Barnett, a world renowned painter and printer who was on hand to personally sign some of them. Depicting two manatees, the lithograph was chosen for its rich hues and Florida themes. Attendees and exhibitors alike received this valuable print free just for stopping by the PAF booth.

* An encore visit by "Booker T," an American Bald Eagle aptly named after the central Florida city of Booker Town, where he was found as a chick with permanent injuries.

* Aside from the exhibition, there was a full program of more than 50 seminars, presented in both English and Spanish, by internationally recognized industry experts.

Be sure to reserve January 24-26 for Graphics of the Americas 2003 at the Miami Beach Convention Center. With the graphic arts industry and overall world economy facing turbulence and an uncertain forecast, it's comforting to know that with the next Graphics of the Americas, the South Florida sun will be shining brightly, South Beach will be hopping and the waters of the Atlantic will be calm and crystal-clear.
 

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