First NPES Industry Summit Explores Optimistic View of Print’s Prospects
Sustained economic growth and smart adoption of technologies to create new value-added services have helped put the U.S. printing industry in its strongest position in many years, speakers concurred at the first NPES Industry Summit, held recently in Chicago.
The Summit brought together for the first time the long-standing economic forecasting conference PRINT OUTLOOK®, plus the NPES Spring Board of Directors Meeting and a meeting of PRIMIR, the Print Industries Marketing Information and Research Organization.
“These three gatherings gained an impact and value from being held together that greatly exceeded their separate importance, even though each event already enjoyed a high reputation for serving the industry well,” said NPES President Ralph Nappi.
Opening the PRINT OUTLOOK conference, the 26th in the series, NPES Vice President William K. “Kip” Smythe commented on the print industry’s bright prospects for the near future.
“I don’t think I have been this optimistic in at least 15 years,” Smythe said. “The last time we met, we had seen from 2004 that it looked like the industry was starting to come back. Now, it is clear we have had sustained growth.”
Ronnie Davis, chief economist at PIA/GATF, agreed, noting that U.S. printers’ sales reached $171 billion in 2006, a gain of 3.3 percent over the previous year and a major rebound from a low point of about $156 billion in 2002.
Davis said PIA/GATF forecasts increases of about 1.5 percent in 2007 and 2.5 percent in 2008. Significant growth is coming from new digital and “ancillary” services printers are adding to their portfolios, Davis said, adding, “This is still an opportunity industry.”
Keynote speaker Dr. Joseph Webb noted that “all media are experimental today because the relationships between them have changed so dramatically.” He said the challenge for printers was not only to be “modern” today but to “figure out how to be modern 18 months from now. It’s not your competitors you have to worry about, it’s your clients. You have to find a way to stay ahead of them.” Providing an overall context for the industry presentations, NPES Consulting Economist Michael Evans predicted there will be a significant slowdown in the national economy in 2007, but no recession. He said the media coverage of the recent reverses in mortgage lending was over-stated and these developments did not represent a major threat to the total economy.