Q&A With Ford Bowers, Dave Leskusky Discusses Why SGIA Acquired NAPCO Media
The Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA), a non-profit trade group for digital and screen printing professionals, announced Aug. 6 that it has acquired NAPCO Media, Printing Impressions' parent company and the publisher of multiple brands serving the printing, promotional products, retail, non-profit, media, and marketing industries.
Per the acquisition terms, NAPCO Media will become an LLC and continue to operate independently out of its Philadelphia office; SGIA remains headquartered in Fairfax, Va. Financial details of the acquisition are not being disclosed.
While it’s status quo for media companies to buy other media companies, there is little precedent for a trade association buying a media company – a recent exception being the 2014 acquisition of Summit Media Group by the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies (PMMI).
In the following interview, we ask SGIA President & CEO Ford Bowers and NAPCO Media President Dave Leskusky to answer key questions about the acquisition and what it means for their organizations:
Why would a trade association buy a media company?
SGIA and NAPCO partnered in 2017 to bring the upcoming PRINTING United event to life to better serve the industry. It became clear to both organizations while working on PRINTING United that we share a similar vision and mission; joining forces presented a unique opportunity to help the industry grow while also strengthening both organizations. This acquisition amplifies the strengths of each organization while extending our reach as a combined organization across all the audiences we serve. So, whether it's events, research, education or publications, we have the ability to go deeper and broader as a combined organization. Another key indicator that this partnership will be successful is the fact that PRINTING United, taking place in Dallas on October 23-25, is already over 99% sold out in its first year.
How do the goals of SGIA and NAPCO Media align?
The vision and goals at SGIA and NAPCO are very similar. NAPCO’s mission is to build community between its audience and its clients and deliver value that generates measurable results. SGIA is a community that strives to be the foremost resource for information and education for the printing industry. NAPCO Media brings complementary audiences and services to SGIA and vice versa; there are very few redundancies. Until we signed the PRINTING United partnership, SGIA had minimal reach into the commercial, in-plant, packaging, or promotional products space. They had limited ability to touch brands downstream like NAPCO does in the retail, non-profit, publishing, or marketing verticals. On the flip side, NAPCO had sparse reach into the apparel, graphics & wide format, and industrial markets. PRINTING United represents one large community to which we are committed, and it makes sense that as an organization we also need to reflect that goal, while continuing to serve the distinct segments in the industry.
In what ways will this acquisition impact NAPCO Media brands? How about SGIA?
Given that NAPCO Media becomes an LLC under this acquisition, it is and will continue to operate independently from an editorial perspective. This is an exciting partnership that is more of a vertical merger designed to capitalize on both companies’ unique strengths and lay the foundation for organic growth that was set into motion when working together on bringing PRINTING United to life. SGIA is not buying NAPCO Media to make massive changes, but to build and extend content across the full range of printing. Our goal is to unlock the value of the combined organization as we methodically and strategically work through the integration process to provide greater value to the communities we serve.
What strategic goals drove this acquisition?
NAPCO and SGIA are complementary in nature. This is an excellent opportunity for two companies producing separate and distinct services to strategically combine resources to provide the industry with unprecedented events, relevant research, education, training, government affairs, and imaginative media.
The immediate buzz and success of PRINTING United reinforced our assertions that the industry was clamoring for more collaboration between printing segments. While we are ecstatic about the immediate success of PRINTING United, we realized that we needed to provide that same kind of value to our communities year-round. At a micro level we’ve seen printers in all communities begin to diversify and add new services. We’ve seen hundreds of examples of traditional commercial printers getting into labels and folding carton, label and screen printers adding wide-format, and commercial printers getting into garment decoration. At a macro level, the industry is converging, historically separate segments are blending together and converging into a unified marketplace, and we wanted to be the primary resource where printers go for their education and information in their efforts to diversify their offerings.
It’s important to note that our strategic goals extend well beyond the printing industry. For example, NAPCO owns brands in other vertical markets which we will continue to invest in for future growth. Brands like Women in Retail, which has seen explosive growth on the event side, can now tap into the resources, expertise, and technology that SGIA brings as an association, to help achieve a vision of being a membership-based organization. NAPCO’s reach into brands through Target Marketing, Total Retail, Non-Profit Pro, and Publishing Executive provides distribution into audiences where SGIA had no footprint. Printing is in SGIA’s DNA, but that's not going to deter us from continuing to support other vital brands in the NAPCO portfolio.