PRINT 13: Mood: A Breath of Fresh AirOctober 2013 By Erik Cagle, Senior Editor
There was a distinct air of optimism in the halls of McCormick Place South, and Paul Hudson could feel it.
The president and owner of Hudson Printing, a $28 million concern located in Salt Lake City, had attended his first Dscoop event in April of 2012 and even then he could sense a positive transformation was taking place. Hudson's views were validated further when the late summer/early fall of 2013 arrived, and brought with it a PRINT 13 that boasted a vibe and energy severely lacking in the past few Graph Expos.
"To me, there was a palpable difference (in the industry) during Dscoop and PRINT 13," Hudson observes. "There was an energy (in Chicago) like, wow, these people must be making some money. That point of view may have been filtered through my optimistic outlook."
If Hudson is guilty of viewing the show in terms of his own good fortunes, well, he's not alone. While pundits have pointed out in recent years that PRINT/Graph Expo is not a buying show, but an educational event and a networking opportunity, there's an argument to be made that the latest edition of PRINT had a distinct transactional flavor to it. Judging by anecdotal testimony, this was the largest buying show since before the Great Recession.
A 100-year-old company, Hudson Printing has long been known as a heatset offset publication printer. But, in recent years—and with the acquisition of an HP Indigo—the firm has ventured into commercial printing, producing direct mail, promotional materials and compliance work, among other things. When his brother (and former co-owner) retired last year, Paul Hudson wanted to change the company culture and gravitate toward more collaborative executive and management teams. He decided to bring a team to Chicago, rather than go by himself. So, a crew of eight, including managers from the binding, mailing, prepress and pressroom departments, joined Hudson, all attending the show for the first time ever.
"It was fantastic," Hudson says. "I'm trying to help my full management team understand our new collaborative direction, which is a significant change for the company. Industry events we attended (at night) after the show also provided some team-building opportunities. It was great to expose everyone to the full range of vendors inside and outside their specific domains.