From the Editor: 30 Years & Counting
2024 will be my 30th year as editor of In-plant Impressions. I sure didn’t see that coming when I was struggling through my first issue in November 1994, trying to figure out what an in-plant was.
Back then there was no internet. No email. No way to find out what was happening in the in-plant community other than cold calling — and I did a lot of that: randomly ringing up managers to ask them how things were going and whether they had any exciting news — back before phone robots and scammers made us suspicious of every call.
A lot has changed in 30 years. There are fewer in-plants for one thing, and many don’t want to share information anymore. I try to foster a friendly environment where in-plants can communicate their accomplishments with each other, but often their PR departments demand they hold their tongues or censor information about their equipment. It’s not easy these days to get you in-plant news.
I do my cold calling with email now and get many of my story leads that way. But even here, maybe half of my messages go unanswered.
One thing that hasn’t changed much since the ’90s is the networking I do at in-plant conferences. I learn a lot from face-to-face meetings with managers. Even some whose parent companies forbid them from talking to “the press” are happy to tell me about all their upgrades (before stressing that I can’t write about them). Managers are much more open at conferences and eagerly share insights with each other. I’m sometimes just a fly on the wall.
I had a lot of opportunities to network last year, including in November when I drove out to Messiah University for the last of eight in-plant road shows, hosted by the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association (IPMA). It was a great opportunity to hobnob with a few dozen managers from the region.
I dropped by Elizabethtown College Print Services on my drive there, where I had a nice chat with Erica Hobbs about her small in-plant’s plans to expand services by producing promotional products and name badges. Shop visits and conferences like this not only keep me up to date on what’s happening in the in-plant world, they show me that my efforts here at IPI still have some value.
A new slate of in-plant activities awaits in 2024 — opportunities for you to ask your peers for advice and get ideas from them that you can use. In April, the Association of College and University Printers will meet in Rochester, New York; in June, IPMA meets in Des Moines, Iowa; the in-plant forums at September’s PRINTING United Expo in Las Vegas will draw dozens of managers; and peppered throughout the year will be at least six IPMA Road Show events.
While it’s sobering to think I’ve been at this for three decades, I’m certainly glad for the many friends I’ve made in the in-plant world, and I look forward to seeing many of you in the year ahead.
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Impressions since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited more than 170 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, co-sponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.