IPMA 2022: A Welcome Reunion
Rarely has there been a more welcome reunion than the recent In-plant Printing and Mailing Association (IPMA) conference. In June nearly 140 in-plant managers and other attendees got together for the first time in three years. The excitement level was off the charts.
The conference included keynote speakers, who focused on improving communication and leadership skills, as well as industry experts, who offered a broader view of changes impacting in-plants and pointed out opportunities within their reach.
The sessions were so packed with information that we split them into separate articles plus a video overview. Here are links to all of our coverage:
- From the Editor: An In-plant Celebration
- New Video: IPMA Conference Brings In-plants Together at Last
- Enhance Your Sales Strategy
- Roundtables Bring Out Concerns
- The Benefits of Automation
- The Benefits of G7
- Implementing Web-to-Print
- IPI Congratulates Best of Show Winners
- In-Print Best of Show Winners Revealed – For the Past Three Years
IPI Editor Bob Neubauer led off the conference by unveiling data from a new IPI industry report (Trends and Services in the In-plant Industry). He discussed how COVID has changed the in-plant industry, which print applications became more popular during the pandemic, and what services represent the best opportunities going forward. Later that day Consultant Howie Fenton discussed lessons learned from the pandemic and best practices for managers. Sylvamo’s Jeff Monroe offered a detailed update on the paper industry, highlighting the issues that brought on the current paper shortage along with the future outlook, which includes an expected supply/demand equilibrium over the next 12-24 months.
Also looking to the future was Analyst Greg Cholmondeley of Keypoint Intelligence, who focused on how the fourth industrial age of cloud computing, autonomous multifunctional robotics, and artificial intelligence (A.I.) will impact printers. A.I. thrives on data, he said, so it’s important to start capturing production analytics so you can make use of A.I. in your shop. Automation will become even more prevalent in print shops, so start automating now, he urged, or your in-plant will be left behind.
Tracy Stock, the first keynote speaker, stressed that the No. 1 thing employees want is for their employer to care about them. She noted that 69% of employees would work harder if they felt more appreciated. She encouraged managers to improve their work culture by adding more appreciation, celebration, and fun into the workday.
Mark Fallon (The Berkshire Co.) and Lois Ritarossi (High Rock Strategies) had attendees take a test that sorted them into one of four types of communicators (director, analyzer, supporter, promoter), then encouraged them to modify how they communicate with those who use different communication styles (i.e., an analyzer needs more details, where a director craves a summary; a promoter may need human interest stories to better understand the issue). Most work conflicts, they said, stem from people using different communication styles.
A panel of wide-format users (Forrest McGuire of Des Moines Public Schools; Judy Bankson of Oregon State University; and Kelli Embry of Shelter Insurance) talked about the wide-format products they are producing and took audience questions. All handle graphics installations, though sometimes with help from the facilities department. All have, or plan to get, a flatbed printer. There was a lot of interest in how much to charge for wide-format printing and cutting. Bankson noted that having previously outsourced this work, she knew what vendors were charging and adjusted her shop’s prices to be lower than that. Shelter’s in-plant experiments with new applications and shows Marketing what it can do.
Another free-form panel discussion featured four seasoned managers who tackled topics like getting approval to hire more employees. They suggested going beyond just sending a memo; write a proposal that includes data and lists ways the new hire will benefit the parent organization.
A highlight of the conference was the awards banquet, during which the winners of the In-Print 2020, 2021, and 2022 contests were honored. At the reception, attendees got to view all the winning pieces in the 2022 contest and vote for the attendee choice award (which went to University of Utah). The Best of Show winners for those years were also finally revealed. IPMA honored its 2022 IPMA Awards winners as well. They were:
- Organizational Impact Award: CHRISTUS Health;
- Print Center Award: Bloomberg Ink;
- Mail Center Award: University of Texas at Austin;
- Innovation Award: State of Tennessee.
Though attendance was technically below that of IPMA’s 2019 conference, it did not seem that way at all. General sessions were packed, and booths at the vendor fair had a steady flow of visitors. This strong turnout was a positive shot in the arm for the association, which gets the bulk of its revenue from its events. Without those events the past two years, IPMA took a financial hit, but this year’s conference, combined with the upcoming road show events, will put it back on track. As IPMA President Kelly Hogg concluded at the state of the association meeting, “We’re in good shape.”
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.