Don’t Let Graph Expo Opportunity Pass By —Michelson
NO QUESTION about it. The U.S. economy continues to sputter, and so do the overall business conditions facing most commercial printers. But, even if capital equipment expenditures and software upgrades aren’t on your radar screen for the remainder of 2008, next month’s Graph Expo exhibition in Chicago is well worth attending. It will provide a unique vantage point for show-goers to grasp industry technology directions for years to come, especially since Graph Expo will be the first chance for most Americans to see products firsthand that debuted at the trend-setting Drupa exhibition in Germany earlier this year. Several of them are also highlighted in our extensive Graph Expo new product preview section that starts on page 54 in this issue.
With more than 600 exhibitors filling 450,000 square feet of exhibit space, no other venue in the Western hemisphere in 2008 will enable attendees to make side-by-side comparisons on such a plethora of new equipment, ranging from sheetfed offset presses, to digital output devices, to automated finishing systems. Don’t forget, too, incentives within the recent economic stimulus package passed by Congress that includes provisions for bonus depreciation on capex acquisitions, which are purchased and installed by December 31.
But walking the aisles of Graph Expo is more than just the ability to compare various manufacturers’ offerings. Even those not in the market for new gear can well-justify their trip to McCormick Place South by going home armed with money-saving and workflow efficiency tips gleaned from talking to exhibitors, networking with fellow printers and choosing from the more than 70 concurrent educational sessions. As industry suppliers increasingly take a more holistic, consultative sales approach, they can help show ways to grow sales, provide cost-cutting ideas and talk about applications that you can effectively sell to customers.
Graph Expo is also evolving with the industry it serves. The Wide-Format Pavilion has been expanded for 2008, reflecting wide-format printing’s shift from being a specialty segment to a vital and growing element within the graphic communications industry. As validation, turn to page 44 for just-completed InfoTrends survey results ascertaining wide-format’s adoption among commercial shops. Other show highlights will include exhibits featuring the latest trends in digital ink-jet printing; promotional product sales opportunities; the Mailing and Fulfillment Center; XPS Land; a JDF-based, multi-vendor, working print shop; as well as a new “Future Print” booth focused on the long-range viability of RFID and printed electronics for our marketplace.
Even if expanding from lithography into digital printing, creating Web-based customer interfaces, diversifying into non-print services and the like aren’t on the near-term horizon for your shop, the benefits alone from learning more about these value-added offerings will help crystallize your business planning for if and when the time might be right.
With industry suppliers still reeling from the huge R&D, setup and booth costs that come every four years from participating in Drupa—coupled with skyrocketing raw material costs, currency fluctuations and a stagnant economy—if there was ever a time in recent memory where vendors needed printers to support their efforts by showing up, it is now.
Mark T. Michelson