Commentary on What Industry Trend the Idealliance, Epicomm Merger May Signify
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — July 1, 2016 — Today marks a new era for two industry associations that had previously announced their intentions to officially merge effective July 1. Well, that day has arrived and the combined Idealliance and Epicomm have adopted the Idealliance name. The new organization, whose merger was approved wholeheartedly earlier this year by their respective memberships, now has more than 3,000 members (about half coming from each organization). They also claimed to have little prior membership overlap, with less than 130 companies with dual memberships. Epicomm itself was the result of the January 2014 merger of the Association of Marketing Service Providers (AMSP), the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL) and the National Association of Quick Printers (NAQP).
On paper, the latest merger makes sense. I've always thought of Epicomm (NAPL) being very strong on the business management side with its well-respected industry economics research and trends department led by Chief Economist Andy Paparozzi and its cadre of consulting services experts. Whenever I hear the name Idealliance, the first thing that comes to mind is its leading educational, training and certification efforts surrounding G7, GRACoL, SWOP and other similar color management and device independence reproduction specifications.
The question, though, becomes: Does this mark the end for consolidation of industry associations, or will more follow? Many industry watchers will recall efforts at various times to combine the then-NAPL with the Printing Industries of America (PIA), but the merger didn't come to fruition for multiple reasons. But, as the GRAPH EXPO and PRINT trade shows become smaller so, too, does the revenue stream that is split by Epicomm, PIA, and NPES The Association for Suppliers of Printing, Publishing and Converting Technologies. The same can be said for the pool of funds available from industry suppliers that are called upon to sponsor multiple events, programs and initiatives from all of the respective entities. We've already seen that in the supplier community's ability and willingness to support multiple industry publications, as illustrated by the ultimate demise of Graphic Arts Monthly, High-Volume Printer and several other magazines.
Some argue, frankly myself included, that our industry might be best served by one, more powerful and cost-effective, association that serves the diverse interests of both printers and industry suppliers. I do believe that industry market dynamics will make that a reality one day somewhere on the horizon. Perhaps this latest merger of two well-known associations is just one more step in that process. What do you think?