Messiah University Hosts Final IPMA Road Show
The last of eight regional in-plant conferences presented by the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association (IPMA) this year wrapped up yesterday near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, inside the facility of Messiah University Press and Postal Services.
More than 50 people attended the Road Show event, including about 20 In-plant managers from organizations like the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Bucknell University, York College, Geico, the Dauphin County Library System, Elizabethtown College, and Penn State Health. Paul Bethel, from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Louisiana even flew in from Baton Rouge to attend.
Sponsoring vendors set up tables in the in-plant’s pressroom and mail center, and attendees visited with them during breaks in the program. Messiah Press Manager Dwayne Magee planned a full schedule of educational sessions – nine total – covering everything from paper and digital printing to professional burnout and the power of partnerships. In-plant Impressions Editor Bob Neubauer also recapped the recent PRINTING United Expo, showing photos and video from the event and describing the various in-plant activities.
The Road Show started out strong with Jay Depner of Lindenmeyr Munroe offering an in-depth look at the state of the paper industry as it recovers from the pandemic years. During COVID, coated and uncoated freesheet inventory shot up dramatically as people stopped buying paper, then plummeted when businesses reopened. The paper industry is currently in “correction” mode, he said, with inventory slowly building back up, although the number of paper machines in operation has gone down from 261 to just 65. The two largest producers of coated freesheet, he said, have announced they will each redirect one machine to produce packaging materials.
Next, Bob Barbera of Canon USA talked about how in-plants must diversify to drive business growth. He cited In-plant Impressions’ data showing that 63% of in-plants are expanding their services. By investing in the latest generation of equipment, he added, in-plants can further expand their applications to provide signage, stickers, embellishments and even packaging. New digital presses will not only increase productivity, they can print on specialty media and offer more automation, such as one-touch color calibration and closed-loop color control.
Courtney Vitez of Xerox discussed the value of leveraging digital transformation and encouraged in-plants to add workflow automation tools. She said in-plants produced only 7% of their jobs using automation workflow in 2021, and 53% of them rely on fully or mostly manual processes. By adding automation, she said, “you will be amazed at what your operation can accomplish.” Web-to-print is a good starting point, she added, since customers have come to rely on ecommerce for their purchases.
A similar message was presented by Ricoh’s Ken Tucker (who has attended seven of IPMA’s eight Road Shows this year). He encouraged in-plants to transition into Integrated Resource Centers, using fully integrated Web-to-print and management information systems, workflow automation, omnichannel communications, customer communications management and more.
Tucker stressed the importance of having a vision of where you want your in-plant to be in five years to help you focus and make changes. Tucker was joined by Justin Ianuzo who touted the importance of print for marketing, noting that 81% of businesses use print advertisements, and that 73% of U.S. consumers prefer direct mail for brand communication.
“Marketing is the voice of the organization, but print is still the microphone,” he said.
After an ample lunch and lots of networking between in-plant attendees and sponsors, the afternoon program began with Neubauer’s reflection on PRINTING United Expo. Then Kimberly Duetsch, an assistant professor in Messiah University’s Master of Occupational Therapy Program, gave an enthusiastic presentation in which she offered strategies to prevent professional burnout. Younger employees, she said, are more likely to experience high levels of stress due to factors like lack of feedback and limited resources.
The first step is to increase awareness that burnout is happening and that it’s OK to discuss it. Some ideas to prevent it include performing random acts of kindness toward team members; mentor/mentee relationships; allowing employee voices to be shared and heard consistently; and peer support groups. But also, she added, just practice self-compassion: being kind to yourself. She suggested resources such as the Maslach Burnout Inventory assessment and Mayo Clinic’s Well-Being Index.
To wrap up the Road Show, Dr. Rob Pepper of Messiah University (yes, Dr. Pepper) talked about the power of partnerships (illustrated comically by his showing of a 1980s commercial for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups) and the need to work toward collaboration, where partners identify a common problem and work together to create a solution. He was followed by a talk on promotional product sales, and then a fast-paced session featuring Steve King who talked about teamwork and collaboration. He provided tools to help teams focus on priorities, stay positive and gain traction as they work toward their goals.
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.