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The 14th Annual VUE/Point Conference Shows Positive Signs

June 2003
WASHINGTON, DC—The 14th annual VUE/Point Conference, held here recently, posted almost a 10 percent year-to-year attendance increase. The event organizers also noted that there was a big jump in the percentage of first-time attendees drawn from printing firms.

Though historically known for concentrating on prepress and digital technology, this year's conference marks a continuation of the effort to make it a broader graphic communications event. Apart from technical sessions on screening, proofing and CTP technology, much of the 2003 conference focused on management topics such as how printers should be differentiating themselves and avoiding the hazard of selling solely based on price.

The title given the opening session—"Prospering in Tough Times"—reflected this change. The panelists recounted their recent successes and shared insights they've gained.

Metzgers Printing, in Holland, OH, enjoyed an eight percent growth in sales last year, reports Joe Metzger, president. He attributes the gain to a management directive that put the marketing emphasis on adding new customers. "Eight of our top 15 customers today were not on the company's radar screen a year ago," Metzger notes.

The company has also been focusing on expanding its mailing and fulfillment services. Metzger says a key step in the process was hiring reps with experience selling these services, so the focus is not on selling printing first. An unexpected offshoot of this effort was a request to handle fulfillment of mail orders for a local pickle making company, he notes.

Geography is a factor in the growth market uncovered by Burbank, CA-based LAgraphico, but President Al Shapiro chalks the gains up to timing. "We had a bump in sales at the end of the year (2002), so we achieved a 10 percent growth increase and our profitability was up. Entertainment spending tends to grow when things go bad," Shapiro notes.

The DVD segment is really booming, with the rapid growth in the installed base of players, he says. That's leading to a lot of repackaging of old titles, which need to be supported with sales and collateral materials, according to the company president.

In a related move, LAgraphico is expanding its business in what Shapiro calls "production art" (or premedia ) services. He describes the department as an extension of its clients' creative resources, which saves them money by handling the execution and iterations (alternative formats) of design concepts. "The sale starts with upper management, but we also work with the creative department," the company exec notes.
 

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