Graph Expo Review: Postpress – Leveraging the New Normal

Hank Brandtjen (left), president of Brandtjen & Kluge, explains his equipment to two Graph Expo 2011 attendees.

If you drop a quarter in the gum ball machine and nothing comes out, you might curse, smack the side of it or give the rascal a kick. That’s fine; everyone’s invested money in something at one time or another and has gotten stiffed .

However, if you reach deeper into your pocket, pull out another quarter and drop it into the machine—in the hopes that you’ll get one, if not two, gum balls—you’ve revealed a fatal flaw in your DNA makeup. When the expectation is for a different outcome under the same type of conditions, well, as our pal Al Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.”

OK, so it’s not wise to quote people who are smarter than you, but when it comes to Graph Expo, we have some givens. This is the new normal everyone talks about from an industry standpoint: i.e., the printer attendance level, the exhibitor volume. We’re not returning to 2000 levels or even 2005. Attendees lining up three and four deep around a booth waiting to talk to a salesperson, many with checkbooks in hand, is an outdated snapshot.

Printers and industry vendors, not wanting to become an Einstein statistic, have adjusted well to 2011-era business. Print shops can no longer afford to let a large group of people go enjoy themselves in Chicago for a few days on a scouting expedition. The vendors themselves cannot justify bringing gobs of equipment into booths the size of football fields. But, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Since we’re borrowing old adages, less is truly more. Instead of seeing a gaggle of tire kickers (the least promising of prospects), the printers and trade finishers who perused McCormick Place South from Sept. 11-14 had more sober intentions. There is clearly pent-up demand in the marketplace, particularly for finishing equipment. Just ask David Spiel, president of Spiel Associates.

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