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GRAPH EXPO 2006: Binding & Finishing — Binding Agreements

November 2006 BY ERIK CAGLE, Senior Editor
ULTIMATELY, THE common goal among the manufacturers and suppliers of finishing and bindery equipment at Graph Expo (and any trade show, for that matter) is to place their equipment in as many shops as possible. But, as a commerce vehicle, companies displaying their wares approach the annual Chicago event with different goals in mind.

Every year there’s a degree of spin doctoring that takes place in the trade press. A show’s attendance can drop 20 percent as tumbleweeds bounce off stitchers and binders, but some writers will rave about how many of the leads were high quality. Frankly, it’s generally 50/50 or slightly in favor of a strong showing.

The 2006 edition of Graph Expo and Converting Expo proved ridiculously successful across the board. Out of about 30 postpress manufacturers and suppliers polled, only one major company groused about not enjoying a banner performance.

Yes, finishing the deal at McCormick Place and ringing the proverbial sales bell looks good on post-show press releases, but Chicago is not always an end to the means. A Graph Expo booth serves many purposes and, at show’s end, signed contracts may not be an accurate measure of a successful exhibition.

Sometimes we tend to view the printing industry as a big community, where major printers, manufacturers and suppliers are all household names. But sometimes a prospect comes along who just isn’t cognizant of all the players in a particular segment of the industry. And that’s when reputation takes a back seat to sales savvy.

“We took the opportunity to get our presence to people out there who don’t know about us,” noted Susan Corwin, marketing manager for Rollem USA. “One Northeastern company stopped by that had never heard of us before. And now they’re preparing to buy a machine.”

Headed for Texas

Crowds were lined up around a demonstration of the PB-15 drill at Rollem’s booth, with a sign indicating that this particular model had been sold to Seidl’s Bindery in Houston. Its showcase item was the unveiling of the new JetStream business card cutter with a rated speed of 5,000 sph.

“For us, the trade show is the number one way of generating leads,” Corwin added. “It’s been great here.”

Graph Expo has always proven to be an excellent source of lead generation for Technifold USA, according to company President Andre Palko. And, as the company grows its customer base, Palko relishes the opportunity to meet end users face to face.

“We’ve got fanatical customer loyalty, and it’s always good to see what they’re doing,” he said. “We set high standards for the show, not just the number of leads, but getting high quality ones.”

Palko noted that creasing equipment was generating the most attention at Technifold’s booth, with multiple solutions that can address a number of applications. Being able to do that, he says, is what allows a customer to enjoy a more profitable bindery.

Going forward, Palko points to the PIA/GATF projection that 30 percent of all jobs will be turned around in one day by the year 2010. “With that in mind, our tools let printers reach that market,” he points out.

What struck manufacturers and suppliers was the high volume of foot traffic on Sunday (opening day), a day that’s traditionally viewed as hosting much lower volumes than Monday or Tuesday. Videojet was among the companies pleasantly surprised to be stealing customers away from their TV sets during football season.

“The number one goal is to obtain new customers and lead generation,” remarked Theresa DiCanio, marketing communications specialist. “It’s a nice way to increase awareness with existing customers. There’s a lot of quality competition out there, so we try to reinforce the Videojet brand.”

Videojet promoted its BX6000 series of binary array ink-jet printers, holding an additional booth in the Mailing & Fulfillment Center. DiCanio also stressed the importance of forging partnerships with other manufacturers to create more rounded solutions. With the increasing complexity in the addressing and printing arena, Videojet “wants to show we have the partners to get the job done,” DiCanio said.

Time for Introductions

For some companies, the show augments existing relationships. Ward Walsh, president of IMC America, revealed that his primary mission was to introduce IMC’s existing customer base to new technologies, including a de-palletizing system that “gets away from the metal approach.

“It’s important to the bindery manager, but cost considerations made (the de-palletizing system) cost prohibitive,” Walsh says. “We have a Beta site that’s testing well.”

Standard Finishing Systems relishes the opportunity to build upon its existing relationships at Graph Expo. When it comes to charting new waters, notes Mark Hunt, marketing manager, a mapped out strategy is the most effective. Quality, not quantity, dictates how well the company might fare.

“We try to pre-arrange appointments with key individuals to make sure we spend focused time with them at the show,” Hunt noted. “Our goal is to have meaningful discussions with the 500 or so customers we really need to see. This is a more important measure of success for us than whether 30,000 or 40,000 people attended the show.”

Among the items showcased by Standard Finishing Systems and Horizon International: The SB-07 seven-clamp perfect binder; the SPF/FC-200A fully automated saddlestitcher; and the ColorWorks 5000 bookletmaker for in-line operation with Xerox DocuColor 5000 digital presses.

A company that is as overwhelmingly large as Heidelberg USA cannot focus on any one area—Ralph Pasquariello, vice president of postpress, said it would’ve taken 100,000 square feet of show floor space just to support Heidelberg’s back end platform. Interestingly, though, a company with Heidelberg’s pedigree is making inroads into new product territory with its diecutters, which attracted a lot of attention from the package printing set.

One trend Pasquariello saw was a willingness of potential customers to forsake their projected Chicago spending in favor of automation. “Buyers see something with a lot of automation on it, costing twice as much as they were looking to buy, but they’ll still walk out of here with it,” he said. “People now see the value and the ROI they can get. It’s mainly because postpress has taken a quantum leap to full-blown automation.”

Among the new bindery products, Heidelberg unveiled its Stitchmaster ST 450 saddlestitcher. The new machine offers speeds up to 14,000 cph and can increase net production by up to 20 percent.

Existing customers will also take advantage of the opportunity to pick their supplier’s brain on a number of topics, and not always directly related to a product the client purchased. John Ritchie, service technician for Longford International, pointed out that clients will drop by to ask for advice, see what new equipment is available, or just talk about various problems they’re having.

Longford President Edward Patterson was also thrilled with the opening-day turnout, and he managed to garner one sale that seemed unlikely. “I sold one machine off the floor. The person had come to buy from one of our competitors, but ended up purchasing from us. That happens to everybody now and then; I’m sure we’ve also been on the losing end of that scenario.”

Busy at the Booth

Garnering most attention at the Longford booth was the variable thickness feeding system equipped with a VTF 700 feeder and autoloading system.

Bill Knotts, vice president of sales and marketing for Spartanics, sees Graph Expo as both a viable vehicle for sniffing out new accounts, as well as a golden opportunity to have existing customers and prospects drop in and see the company’s equipment in action. Knotts was amazed at the flow on opening day (Sunday), which began a few minutes after the doors opened at 10 a.m. and carried into the 5 p.m. closing.

“Customers like to be able to drop in, see the diecutter and the laser cutter, and have a technical discussion without having to come visit our office,” he said.

The laser cutting system was the centerpiece of Spartanics’ booth, but the company has also completed a white paper on the subject of diecutting. It is available at

Lead generation and integrated marketing efforts were the main thrusts at Graph Expo for GBC’s Jamie Stoerp, product manager for binding systems. Stoerp spent a good deal of time in the booths of GBC’s partners, meeting and discussing opportunities with them.

For example, GBC’s cornerstone offering was the launch of its new StreamPunch III online punching system that is compatible with the e-STUDIO line (901, 1101 and 1351) of monochrome digital imaging systems from Toshiba America Business Solutions (TABS). The new ProClick Pronto automatic binding solution also integrates into the e-STUDIO/StreamPunch III configuration.

“This furthers our business model of (offering) anything that’s attached to the printer,” Stoerp noted.

A good base of loyal users and strong repeat sales positioned Duplo USA for a strong showing in Chicago, according to Si Nguyen, product marketing manager. “It’s been an excellent show; we’ve been on our feet constantly,” he said. “Graph Expo is good for lead generation—15 out of 100 leads here result in orders. At other shows, it’s 5 percent or less.”

Graph Expo was the North American coming out party for Duplo’s DuBinder perfect binder. Nguyen stressed that the offering continues its trend of focusing on the digital printing realm with a fully automated setup that accommodates print-on-demand applications for one to 10,000 books.

And, for some companies, Graph Expo is an opportunity for a company to make its presence felt. The main thrust for Hohner Stitching Products was to be visible to customers, noted Hohner’s Becky Wenninghoff.

“This is a good show for us,” added Hohner’s Brooke Rahner. “A lot of (stitching) machines out there feature Hohner heads. They speak for themselves.”

Market Development

Peter Weiss, president and CEO of MBO America, views his company as a leader in both the finishing and folding business, which has enabled it to develop solid brand awareness among printers and binders. “The focus at Graph Expo was to inform the printing community of the innovative solutions MBO America is providing to help the industry’s members—both existing and new customers—maintain their competitive edge in an increasingly globalized marketplace,” Weiss said. “A show is a great place to inform; relationships are maintained at other occasions.”

Among other introductions, MBO America turned some heads with the new B26 efficiency folder, now available with Vacu-Infeed Vacu Alignment System (VIVAS). The B26 offers short makeready times, smoother sheet transfer into the alignment table and improved sheet control.

Colter & Peterson showcased the Baumann BASA automatic jogging system. According to Bruce Peterson, president of Colter & Peterson, the show met expectations on a number of levels.

“We met with a lot of new people, and a significant number of customers came in and inquired about our machines,” Peterson revealed. “Last year was our best show, but this year is as good, if not better.”

The flow of customers and would-be customers is a two-way street. Hank Brandtjen, president of Brandtjen & Kluge, notes that it’s important for the company to stay on top of existing customers, given the availability of competitive wares, while at the same time taking advantage of the opportunity to lure prospects away from their current vendors. Then there are those visitors for whom Graph Expo is a fact-finding expedition, and it’s important for Brandtjen’s company to inform the masses.

“Postpress finishing equipment is an area many printers are turning to for several reasons,” he said. “In addition to gaining control of the finished product, they recognize that it is a revenue source that can add to their bottom line. As a manufacturer and supplier, we want to make sure they know what their options are.”

Brandtjen & Kluge introduced its EHG series half-sheet press. Designed to accommodate a sheet size of up to 20x30? at speeds of 3,000+ iph, the EHG will initially serve as an automatic diecutter, with foil stamping and embossing models to follow.

Among the other bindery highlights at Graph Expo:

A common theme for finishing trends is the ability to provide integrated solutions, proving that finishing manufacturers and suppliers are not an island unto themselves.

“Automated machinery, and the ability of that machinery to be integrated with complementing technologies to perform several tasks cost-effectively, are two of the most important keys to success in today’s changing market,” noted Werner Naegeli, president and CEO of Muller Martini.

Muller Martini showcased the Pantera perfect binder, which runs at up to 4,000 cph. In addition to conventional hotmelt binding, the Pantera can also process PUR adhesive, configured with up to 28 feeder stations, and equipped with a drum cover feeder and an optional crash feeder station for hard cover book production. It features an interactive Set-up Assistant Companion and touchscreen monitor.

Elsewhere, Vijuk Equipment trumpeted its Vijuk–G&K V-14/V-18 miniature/commercial folders, available with computerized auto fold-plate setting, which saves on setup and production time. With a single control panel, users pre- program all the folding plates for standard folding jobs, using eight preset folding patterns, or specifically pre-program the plates for customized jobs. PI

For more information on Graph Expo products, go to and click on the Graph Expo roundup link.


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