In-plants at Expo to Learn and Prepare
Larry Mills sums it up best.
“When you’re researching equipment, YouTube videos are nice, but it can’t compare to actually seeing a piece of equipment run in person on the floor,” says the manager of Monument Health Printing Services, in Rapid City, SD.
Seeing equipment is just one of many reasons in-plants are attending PRINTING United Expo. Technology has advanced in the three years since the last Expo; it’s vital for managers to stay up to date and make new connections.
“We’ve all been isolated for the last two years,” says Mills. “Things have changed so much. You need to go out there and just … talk to people and talk to new vendors.”
Abbas Badani agrees. The senior director of Integrated Graphics Services at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, a stone’s throw from the convention center, says the Expo is a perfect opportunity for managers to educate themselves on the latest innovations. He wants to learn all he can about up-and-coming technology so he can tell customers about it.
“I want to be the resource for the customer, and to be the resource I’ve got to know more than my customer,” he says. He does not want customers informing him about new technology.
“That would not be a good place to be,” he says.
Staying up to date is crucial for another reason, Badani adds.
“The competitors are going to be there. If my competitors are there looking at things, I better be looking at those things too,” he says. “It’s kind of critical.”
“You can’t miss [the Expo] because if you don’t know what the industry’s doing, you’re going to fall behind,” emphasizes Tami Reese, operations manager at Intermountain Healthcare, in Salt Lake City.
While she is at the Expo to research cut-sheet inkjet presses and finishing equipment, she also looks forward to getting inspiration from browsing the show floor.
“Sometimes I get ideas for new offerings that I want to give our customers,” she notes.
Badani is also eager to discover smaller equipment solutions that solve specific problems in his shop.
“There’s always stuff that you [see] and say, ‘wow, this is cool,’” he notes.
In addition to checking out inkjet and finishing equipment, Badani plans to research substrates — especially for wide-format — and learn about new options to help his shop through supply chain shortages. He’s also excited to look at the garment printing equipment and promotional products displays, since he orders promo products for his university.
Mills has a more specific goal.
“This year I’m looking into a label printer,” he says. “I don’t like how my wide-formats are tied up doing print-and-cut sticker jobs. It ties them up for days. We give out a lot of stickers at events and health screenings.”
Beyond inspecting equipment and learning about technology changes, these managers are also excited just to see other in-plant managers. They will have many opportunities, including at the three in-plant breakfast and lunch forums hosted by In-plant Impressions and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association.
“Being an in-plant manager in western South Dakota, we’re so separated from everything else,” laments Mills. He looks forward to chatting with his peers about common problems and getting new ideas.
Unlike talking to vendors, adds Reese, networking with managers gives her the unvarnished truth.
“I love networking,” she says. “I trust my colleagues more than I do the salespeople. I want to know the real story.”
“I haven’t been with my peers for four or five years,” says Badani. He can’t wait to see old friends and make new ones, all while examining the latest technologies.
“This is a way to bring it all together again,” he says.
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.