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Steinhardt--A New Image

September 1998
BY JERRY JANDA


"Sometimes you find yourself needing new challenges," David J. Steinhardt observes, "and you must re-energize."

Steinhardt has chosen to re-energize at PrintImage International, formerly the National Association of Quick Printers (NAQP). He'll charge his batteries as the trade association's executive director.

While the fresh opportunities of the new position excite Steinhardt, his decision to join PrintImage did not come easily. Accepting the job meant leaving NAGASA, the Washington trade association where he served as president and CEO.

When NAGASA was born five years ago from the merger of two dealer organizations, Steinhardt was there to guide the fledgling association. He watched as the young organization grew older, stronger. From an initial budget of $150,000, NAGASA matured into an $800,000 staple of the graphic arts industry.

"We really put NAGASA on the map," Steinhardt says. "People have been approaching us for collaborative and joint efforts, seeking us out for our opinions and positions."

Even so, Steinhardt felt the need to expand his horizons. With an annual budget of $2.5 million, Print-Image has placed Steinhardt at the helm of an association significantly larger than NAGASA. Furthermore, the Chicago-based organization brings the Wisconsin native back to his Midwestern roots.

"I've been in Washington for close to 20 years," Steinhardt notes, "and now that I'm approaching the ripe old age of 43, it's time to make a change."

PrintImage also felt the need to make a change. That's why it sought out Steinhardt. "My reputation in the industry is one of a mover and a shaker," he says.

At this point, the association needs a mover and a shaker. During the past year-and-a-half, Print-Image has experienced the departure of two permanent and two interim executive directors. Is Steinhardt certain he can succeed where his predecessors have failed?

"Absolutely," he says without hesitation. "Without question."

What makes Steinhardt so confident? Experience. He has invested the past 15 years in association management, including eight years at the PIA and GCA.

In Steinhardt's opinion, the challenges that PrintImage members must overcome are the same challenges that he helped PIA and NAGASA members overcome. Just like larger printers and graphic arts vendors, the 3,000 quick and small commercial printers that belong to PrintImage must apply more sophisticated equipment while competing in an industry rife with mergers and acquisitions.

Only an executive director with a background in the graphic arts—an executive director like Steinhardt—can appreciate the issues that PrintImage members face. He brings both industry knowledge and proven leadership to the role.

As executive director, Steinhardt doesn't see himself as a manager who simply responds to the board of directors. He describes himself as a visionary who leads the directors, pushing issues through the board.

When Steinhardt arrived at PrintImage International at the beginning of the month, he brought a list of issues with him. Topping the "To Do" list is PrintImage's switch to self-management—a process that began three years ago. It won't be the first time he's overseen this type of transformation.

"Six years ago, two predecessor groups of NAGASA were managed by outside management firms," Steinhardt says. "We quickly went to self-management."

Smith Bucklin, an association management firm, is responsible for some of PrintImage's services. That will change by the end of October, when PrintImage takes control of all its own services.

PrintImage's services include statistical reports, a trade show, special industry groups, meetings and newsletters. Steinhardt plans to expand those offerings. He also plans to expand the number of Print-Image chapters, while working with existing chapters to develop and distribute products.

"We want to broaden our portfolio of products significantly over the next year, particularly in the area of market research and statistical reports," Steinhardt says.

These new products are meant to point members toward untapped potential in niche markets. Since PrintImage serves entrepreneurs who do business in an increasingly competitive market, these expanded services could give printers an essential edge.

"There is a great deal of change happening in the industry—the two ends of the printing spectrum are beginning to converge in the middle," Steinhardt says. " 'Quick' printers are moving into the commercial market, and commercial printers are moving into the quick printing market."

Likewise, there is a great deal of overlap among trade associations. The NAPL and the PIA/GATF merger threaten to infringe upon PrintImage's territory. By delivering a greater variety of services, PrintImage hopes to prove itself as the quintessential association for the industry's small entrepreneurs.

"No other printing association addresses the needs of the 'quick'/ small commercial printer," Steinhardt says.
 

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