Mood at Graph Expo Reflects Uncertainty –Michelson

Exhibitors I talked to reported that customers seeking to buy new equipment, for the most part, were not encountering financing issues from their banks or chosen finance companies. Fortunately, printing and finishing equipment maintain a relatively strong residual value. And, despite the uncertainty in the economy going forward, there still was buying activity—especially by the forward-looking printing establishments that realize the necessity of automation, waste reduction and makeready efficiency to bolster throughput and reduce labor costs. Interest was especially brisk from those shops seeking more value-added capabilities, hence the busy booths geared toward digital and wide-format printing, as well as mailing and fulfillment services. Workflow was also an overriding theme, with an emphasis on MIS systems, Web-to-print and JDF capabilities that reduce as many human touch points as possible.

With 2009 being a PRINT show year, it’s too early to predict market conditions for that marquee event, held next September. In the meantime, look for further consolidation on both the printer and vendor sides of the industry. Companies that survive the storm, however, will be leaner, meaner and positioned for success when the economy improves. Resiliency and the ability to reinvent ourselves are true hallmarks of a venerable industry that has endured major technological upheaval, past recessions and an ongoing threat from alternative media. Keep the faith that we’ll once again rise to the challenge.

Mark T. Michelson

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