A Trade Show for M&As? In a Way, Yes
Readers of this blog probably won’t need to be reminded that GRAPH EXPO 2014 kicks off in Chicago on Sunday, Sept. 28. We think of the GRAPH EXPO and PRINT shows mostly as extravaganzas for the equipment vendors, but they’re also essential events for printing and packaging firms that want to improve their prospects in the mergers and acquisitions marketplace.
Today, a company’s perceived value in that marketplace depends strongly upon the extent to which it’s seen as a provider of contemporary products and services. Because businesses that embrace new technologies look attractive to buyers, they can make deals on favorable terms. On the other hand, companies still relying on machines and processes from the 1990s tend to look sleepy, uninformed, and weak as candidates for acquisition. A firm in this position shouldn’t expect to be sold as a going concern—good reasons to keep it operating in its anachronistic fashion doesn’t exist.
GRAPH EXPO is where printers gather the information they need to make the right decisions about their technical capabilities and the images they will present to potential acquirers. At McCormick Place, owners will find exhibits, educational sessions, and nonstop networking opportunities—resources that can help them determine where their companies stand on the scale of desirability and what they must do to boost their marketability by raising their technological profiles.
Companies that achieve new capabilities by educating and re-equipping themselves at trade shows shouldn’t keep their progress a secret. Whether your aim is to be attractive as a seller or credible as a buyer, you’ll want your company to be known as one that’s able to deliver whatever its customers want to buy, especially when those products fall outside the definition of traditional print manufacturing.
Take a cue from the exhibitors at GRAPH EXPO—don’t be shy about showing off your new wares. Did you recently purchase a digital press or a wide-format printing system? Hold an open house and invite all of your customers. Word will get around about your technical leadership. Promote your expanded services through social media. If you aren’t already taking part in your regional branch of Printing Industries of America, think about getting more actively involved. Your peers—owners of companies that you may one day want to acquire or that you may want to be acquired by—will get to know you better.