Live, local event reveals challenges and opportunities for the printing industry

Attendees listened to trends, business opportunities and economic outlook commentary from subject matter experts at PRINTING United Alliance.

The only participants in the first PRINTING United alliance Live and Local event – held in downtown Minneapolis on Sunday, Oct. 3 – that broke its promises was the Minnesota Vikings. They were defeated 14-7 in a fierce defensive battle against the Cleveland Browns, despite strong fan support from the area’s professional printing professionals who watched the game while networking in a luxurious suite at US Bank Stadium for conclude the event of the day.

Sponsored by the Indigo division of HP Inc., the program kicked off that morning at the Elliot Park Hotel with breakfast and a series of fast-paced educational sessions. “The Printing United Alliance event held in Minneapolis was very informative and informative,” noted Kevin Langstraat, HP Indigo L&P Manager, N / NE, who attended the program. “Participants learned about current and future economic trends and how companies are looking for ways to diversify their offerings to stay relevant in the market.

Following a welcome speech from Chris Curran, Group President, NAPCO Media Publications, James Martin, Group President, Associations, described the value proposition for printing companies in all segments of the industry to become members of the PRINTING United Alliance. The largest and most comprehensive printing and graphic arts association in North America, the Alliance includes the former SGIA, Printing Industries of America (PIA) and Idealliance associations, as well as NAPCO Media (publisher of Printing fingerprints and several other industry-related publications and brands, and the organizers of the Inkjet Summit, Digital Packaging Summit and Wide-Format Summit).

Martin described Alliance members’ access to industry-specific subject matter experts and documents related to human resources, legislative affairs, OSHA and other regulatory affairs; discounts on conferences and online learning programs supported by the Alliance; free entry to the 2022 PRINTING United Expo (Oct. 19-21, 2022, at the Las Vegas Convention Center); industry-specific economic research and reports; and more. Participants who were not already members of the Alliance were quite surprised that a corporate (printing) membership only costs $ 400 per year.

Supply chain disruptions and labor shortages impact economic outlook

He was followed by Andy Paparozzi, Alliance Chief Economist, who gave an overview of the soon to be released “State of the Industry Report 2021-22”. The seasoned economist predicted that preliminary sales growth for the printing industry for 2022 would fall to between 5.2% and 6.2%. Industry sales, he noted, will be hampered by cost inflation during the year, due to supply chain disruptions and material and labor shortages. work, which will reduce supply and stimulate inflation throughout the economy.

In fact, 88.2% of ‘State of the Industry’ respondents indicated that equipment and labor shortages, or both, are among their biggest challenges during the year. to come, according to Paparozzi. “As the economy slows, we slow down and our ability to pass inflation through as higher prices fall,” he said.

Unsurprisingly, in part in response to the continuing shortage of skilled labor and customer demands for longer turnaround times, he indicated that respondents indicated the top three capital investments they would like. the most to be done in the coming year to further drive automation and efficiency, including binding / finishing equipment, workflow software and e-commerce solutions, respectively.

Paparozzi called his 2022 industry economic forecast that results will vary significantly from company to company. The difference will not be the size of the company, the configuration of the equipment, the markets served or any conventional method of classifying printing plants, he noted. “The difference will be who best protects against ongoing supply chain disruptions and their consequences, and who is best prepared for the post-COVID-19 world.”

Paparozzi informed the printing executives in attendance that success in the post-pandemic world will require them to maximize virtual / distance selling capabilities, become more data-centric and lead the digital transformation of their businesses. Overcoming the workforce shortage requires increased engagement with your workers and the need to develop an effective value proposition for employees, he advised the public.

Convergence and transfer of analog-digital technology

Nathan Safran, Vice President of Research at PRINTING United Alliance, closed the program with a presentation based on the latest report from NAPCO Research, “Convergence in Print: A Shift to the New Normal”. He discussed some of the factors driving commercial product printing, packaging, graphics / signage and promotional service providers to expand into segments beyond their core segments to meet greater variety. customer needs.

Not only has the percentage of service providers considering segment expansion increased since the initial study was completed in 2018, the number of different segments that printers are considering entering has also increased, with more than half of printers surveyed planning to enter at least three print segments. beyond their main purpose.

The packaging market remains the most active, according to Safran. The label printing market is the most popular segment that service providers are migrating to.

This migration to labels is partly driven by lower barriers to entry compared to other packaging applications. Unlike folding cartons or flexible packaging, which require extensive finishing and converting processes to achieve their final shape, labels are two-dimensional and can often be produced on existing equipment, the study noted. Packaging printers / converters (73%) are also keen to expand into the adjacent segments of labels, folding cartons, flexible and corrugated packaging, in part because they already have an existing customer base that could potentially purchase these additional products. .

Safran also discussed the industry’s growing migration from analog print production to digital print production. Based on the survey results, digital inkjet and toner presses (including B2 format digital presses) will continue to outpace sheetfed offset press purchases from commercial printers. This is driven by customer demands for shorter runs, customization, faster turnaround times, and the number of experienced sheetfed offset press operators who continue to retire as they age out of business. industry.

Safran advised Live and Local event participants to continue to assess options to pursue new opportunities for market expansion and to expand into segments that best match their current equipment capabilities, staff knowledge and customer needs . “Also, find the right technology providers who can become trustworthy [long-term] partners, ”he said.

Positive feedback from participants in the printing industry

Live and local attendees enjoyed the Vikings game from a luxury suite at US Bank Stadium.

Participants at the Minneapolis event were unanimous in saying that attending the Live and Local the event was well worth their time:

The short and to the point presentations were invaluable.

The presentation of economics was very insightful.

I have come to learn more about PRINTING United Alliance and to better understand what the association does.

I enjoyed the industry forecast and learned how to better leverage the benefits of PRINTING United Alliance.

It was a great place and a wonderful time everyone had.

Mark and Kim Miner of MinMor Industries posed for a photo during the Vikings game.

The next PRINTING United Alliance Live and Local events scheduled for Oct. 17 in Detroit, tied with a Detroit Lions football game; October 25-26 in Raleigh / Durham, NC, which includes a golf outing; and October 28 in San Francisco, in conjunction with a Golden State Warriors basketball game.

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