PRINT 01 WRAP-UP -- Lasting ImpressionsOctober 2001
The show must go on. The spirit behind that old saying resonated through the halls of McCormick Place during the later days of PRINT 01. The show remained open for its entire scheduled run, even though the level of activity did drop significantly after Tuesday morning. The mood and topics of conversation though, understandably, turned away from graphic arts industry issues to the horror of the terrorist attacks.
"Prior to September 11th, in spite of the weak economy, PRINT 01 was attracting good attendance, and exhibitors reported steady and serious buying activity across all product types and sizes," reported Regis J. Delmontagne, president of the Graphic Arts Show Co., organizers of the event.
The exhibition actually got off to a bit of a slow start, but headline-making acquisitions still created a buzz on the show floor in the first days. Technically, Fuji Photo Film U.S.A. announced its acquisitions prior to the show, but it set the tone for there being a "Big Deal of the Day" for every day of the event. (See the sidebar below for more on the business news from PRINT 01.) For the rest of the show, there was rampant speculation about what deals may yet be to come. It all remains just speculation, so far.
The consensus seemed to be that Fuji's move to gain direct control over its dealer channel would have major implications beyond its own operations. In conversations at the show, representatives from a number of vendors indicated that the move marked a "sea change" in the use of dealers by prepress equipment/supplies manufacturers.
A commonly expressed sentiment was that as the print process becomes more digital, industry manufacturers need more control over the distribution of their products and closer relationships with customers. Cost savings also were seen as a contributing factor in this highly competitive marketplace.
Search for New Revenues
In addition, the move to digital processes means there are fewer lines of consumables for dealers to sell. Film (imagesetter, dupe, etc.), analog proofing materials, processors and chemistry, deletion pens, tape and even razor blades are just some of the products to see a drop in demand.
In the press arena, Komori America announced the acquisition of HRB Inc. in Cincinnati, a Komori distributor, and J.E. Doyle has been named the North American distributor for PrintConcept GmbH's line of UV curing systems designed for web presses.
As for getting closer to customers, CreoScitex announced it was following the lead of Agfa and Heidelberg USA in offering consulting as a distinct service and separate from the product selling process. In recent years, there has been talk of the need for dealers to do more educating of customers about digital processes, but it now appears that the equipment manufacturers are finding they must fill the void.