Graphics of the Americas 2004: Reports Indicate North America's First Graphic Arts and Converting Venue Is in Good Shape

CHICAGO, IL, USA—What makes you feel better this time of year (a question directed toward those of us relegated to the more-artic hinterlands of the world right now)? A jaunt to sun-soaked Miami Beach? How about the signing of a big new contract?

Well, if you checked out the year’s first printing and converting venue in North America, Graphics of the Americas (GOA), it’s likely you were provided a Miami Beach-style cure in the form the sun and funds.

With combined attendance of more than 20,000 and close to 1,400 exhibits, GOA organizer, the Printing Association of Florida (PAF, pafgraf.org), reports both the trade show and the inaugural TrendVision Conference were successful. “Our multi-national niche, timing, location, and most of all, high-quality vendor and speaker offerings has allowed us to sustain levels of attendance that have become an anomaly for trade shows. Exhibitors are telling us attendees were executive decision-makers and came to do business,” reports GOA VP and GM Chris Price.

Price also attributes much of this year’s success to a potential economic and investment uptick, pre-DRUPA excitement, and PAF and GOA’s work to structure the exhibits and conferences based on attendee and exhibitor surveys.

The Beginning of a Trend
Among GOA’s offerings that attendees (and trade journalists) could take advantage of was the very first TrendVision Conference, the brainchild of printing industry guru and Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) academic Frank Romano. Held the Thursday before the show opened and Friday, the opening day of GOA, the two-day “strategic-directions” conference covered an array of topics currently affecting —as well as those that inevitably will continue to change —the printing industry, in addition to a few topics that specifically related to package printing.

Among the most impacting issues facing commercial printers—covered in sessions like, “Convergence”; “Publishing Trends”; “Sociological Trends”; and “Corporate Communication Trends”—is convergence. Romano and presenters like Jack Powers (IN3.org) discussed society’s utilization of media, pointing out that information consumers—in these days of email, the Internet, and PDAs—are not limited to reading a piece of printed paper for “what they need to know.”

After a time of documented industry contraction, overall, the TrendVision conference provided a concentrated venue for commercial printers to learn about ways to, essentially, stay in business, be more profitable, and offer customers value-added benefits.

Though the package-printing sector seems to be under less of the threat of continued-market contraction than the commercial printing segment, it might be wise for package-printing and converting companies to tune into sessions like John Zarwan’s “Is Packaging a Growth Market?” to stay aware of further and future competition.

According to Zarwan (johnzarwan.com), packaging’s importance will continue to grow, thus making it a targeted market-expansion opportunity for commercial printers, especially those already into manufacturing labels for commercial retail use. Zarwan also pointed out converters, like commercial printers, face such similar challenges and concerns as economic conditions, technological changes, employee training, profitability from efficient utilization of existing technologies, etc; hence his package-printing TrendVision presentation—geared more for commercial printers—didn’t paint a picture of roses without the thorns.

Exhibitor Highlights
Several converting-industry oriented manufacturers and companies were on hand at GOA, showing their wares in the Miami Beach Convention Center’s general expo area as well as in a part of the hall designated the “Package Printing Pavilion.” OEMs that supply the converting industry, like Mark Andy (markandy.com), demonstrated their products' benefits for attendees, which PAF reports is comprised of 60% North American visitors and 40% Latin American visitors.

In fact, Mark Andy reports GOA this year resulted in at least two press sales for the OEM—a Scout was sold at the show to Impresos Etimisa S.A. de C.V., based in El Salvador. And Mark Andy says an 830 model also was sold to a customer that attended the show. "They both look forward to receiving their new presses in a few weeks and are gearing up for production," states Mark Andy.

Also exhibiting products and materials were manufacturers and converter-supplying companies like Chesnut Engineering (chesnuteng.com), J&J Converting Machinery (jjconvertingmachinery.com) Cerutti/Flexotecnica (cerutti.it), Megtec (megtec.com), Körber Paperlink (kpl.net), Intelicoat Technologies (intelicoat.com), Transilwrap (transilwrap.com), MacDermid (macdermidga.com), Creo (creo.com), Sun Chemical (sunchemical.com), Flint Ink (flintink.com), and Yupo (yupo.com).

Flint Ink used the venue to promote news of the relocation of its Latin American headquarters from Miami to Santiago, Chile. According to the ink supplier, the decision comes after a corporate initiative to provided tailored customer service support to address the specific regional needs of graphic communications, packaging, and converting professionals in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. More information about Flint Ink is available at flintink.com.

Yupo. Corp. of America also utilized GOA to reveal its latest news that will further enhance its customer service. According to the synthetic paper manufacturer, it recently completed a major expansion of its “state-of-the-art” manufacturing facility in Chesapeake, VA, USA. Yupo says the substantial investment in its warehousing operations underscores the company’s ongoing commitment to ensuring “best-in-class” deliveries to its technical and commercial paper customers; the projected result of the project is an additional 10,500 sq ft of warehouse space. Learn more about Yupo at yupo.com.

The Dreaded(?) Front-End Examination
Though many converters may not be ready to get into the more front-end digital technology for packaging (and its design) available these days, a couple of companies’ wares worth checking out include StaffingTools.com and Enfocus. Both “manufacture” products that tend to be oriented toward prepress operations, but the acronym PDF already is part of most printers’ vernacular (be they commercial or industrial) and both these companies’ can provide added-value functionality, so further investigation may be warranted as part of your company’s profit-growth quest.

StaffingTools.com is a provider of personalized, affordable (stressing the affordable part), and comprehensive online testing and training for graphic arts. The Bloomington, IN-based online-training provider offers education on such important package-package printing related topics and technology as: Adobe Photoshop; QuarkXPress; Adobe InDesign; Creo Preps; Pantone color management; Markzware FlightCheck preflighting software; PDF workflow-related technologies, such as Adobe’s Acrobat and Enfocus’s Pitstop products; and Mac OSX. For information about this innovative, efficient, and affordable way to increase your operation’s prepress know how, call 800/355-6429, or visit StaffingTools.com.

Enfocus, a well-known developer of PDF technology on the commercial side, says it offers designers and printers the tools they need to create and exchange PDFs with total confidence. “…Enfocus’s technology and products pick up where…other products leave off, with features and capabilities that bridge every critical gap in professional PDF workflows. Beyond preflight, Enfocus products allow for automatic error correction, and its Certified PDF technology guarantees reliable PDF creation and file exchange,” states Enfocus. “In addition, the unique editing capabilities of both Pitstop Professional and Pitstop Server are indispensable to any print and prepress production environment.” Learn more from Enfocus at enfocus.com.

More information about PDF workflows is covered in PFFC’s sister publication, American Printer (serving the commercial printing industry) in its January 2004 article PDF 101 at americanprinter.com/ar/printing_pdf/index.htm.

Though those of us that are GOA snowbirds may be back in the snow, a trip to Graphics of the Americas 2004 (which, by the way was held January 23 –25, 2004) provided show and TrendVision conference attendees with at least some semblance of summer sun until June. And for those that made business deals and signed profitable contracts, GOA will be there again next year to provide the funds.



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