IPMA 2022 Recap: Roundtables Bring Out Concerns
In June nearly 140 in-plant managers and other attendees got together for the first time in three years for the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association (IPMA) conference. For four and a half days, in-plant managers reconnected and updated each other about what’s been happening at their shops during the pandemic.
The conference included numerous roundtable discussions where managers asked questions and shared ideas in an informal setting. At a government in-plant roundtable, managers talked about the complexity of getting budget money for equipment and working with government accountants who don’t understand print production or budgeted hourly rates. They discussed the challenge of retaining staff when outside printers pay higher salaries. One state printer adjusted its salaries last year to better compete, though sometimes this means new hires make more than existing employees. They talked about the disappointment of getting operators factory trained on new equipment, only to have them leave within a year.
At a roundtable for in-plants in education, copier fleet management was a hot topic. Managers talked about software that would redirect large jobs to the print shop when someone tries to print them on a walk-up copier or alert the person to the cost savings of sending work to the in-plant. They also discussed the value of selling promotional products. The procurement of paper stocks and other materials generated a lot of conversation. Managers noted that most mills and paper companies are on allocation, so it is very difficult to find new vendors. Some suggested purchasing parent sheets and cutting them down for digital equipment.
Labor shortages were a big topic at a roundtable for mail managers; two of them had employees walk out mid-shift. They talked about recruiting from trade schools, creating work/study positions and internships, and luring USPS and UPS employees who are interested in working at a university to get discounted tuition. Envelopes are also in short supply these days, a fact brought up by several participants. They talked about boosting revenue by charging more for FedEx packages and for shipping large-scale items. There was also some concern voiced that universities have cut down on printing and turned to digital alternatives. Most of the mail that participants are seeing is now marketing mail.
Related story: IPMA 2022: A Welcome Reunion
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.