Offset and Beyond Conference, Day 2
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Las Vegas -- Following is a special report from Day 2 of the 2009 Offset and Beyond Conference. Printing Industries of America's Executive Team is reporting from Caesars Palace, where the Conference continues today.
Day 2: Offset and Beyond Highlights: Focusing on Your Strengths for Profit and the Future
What do you do? If your answer is "I am just a printer", you are not likely to be in business much longer in these turbulent times. Tuesday's general session opened with Making the Transformation from Printer to Marketing Communications Provider. Bruce Biegel, managing director of the Winterberry Group, opened the session with an overview of the advertising market, noting that advertising spending in different markets segments was down up to 8%. Chief marketing officers are now under extreme pressure in these difficult economic times and are being measured by their effectiveness. Biegel stated, "To be a marketing communications provider you need to know 'where the money' is when meeting with your potential customers."
Biegel then interviewed two printers -- Matthew Graham, chief strategy officer of Direct Group (DG), and Bret Olszewski, vice president of marketing for K/P Corporation -- who energized the audience with info on how they transformed their companies from being "just printers" to being able to meet the evolving needs of their customers by providing a wide range of communications methods. Biegel asked, "Why did your company change from product-centric to marketing services?" Olszewski replied, "It was grow or die ... and change was necessary to provide more value to our customers." Graham explained how his company grew via acquisition by adding fulfillment, response management, analytics, and data services. Both discussed how their clients now required them to do multichannel marketing with system integration using the clients' data. (Printing Industries of America members can read more about cross media in The Magazine, May issue.) An important element of their companies' respective changes was the transformation of the sales force from selling products and services to a consultative, solution-selling approach.
Next was a fast, furious, and fun point-counterpoint face-off: brand manager vs. procurement manager, between Jonathan Bailey, operations business manager, and Daniel Sanchez, senior procurement manager, at Heinz North America. Their lively banter, with occasional bickering and back-and-forth volleys, enlightened the audience on the differences between selling to the brand marketing manager and the procurement manager, and their very different approaches to dealing with potential suppliers. Bailey emphasized, "I look for a compelling idea ... and your passion for that idea." While Sanchez stated, "I look to establish strategic suppliers for a long working relationship."
One of the "Beyond" presentations is The Zappos Story. What does an online shoe, handbag, couture, and clothing store have to do with offset printing? Well, the Zappos company culture has been cultivated to support and maintain customer service that ensures their customers remember their brand. More in tomorrow's highlights, after the tour of Zappos.
Early Morning Short Stack Series
The early morning Short Stack Series drilled down to more specific areas for improvement and new opportunities. International printing standards and specifications for printing process control, such as ISO and G7™, have reached new levels of importance. "With all the recent hype on G7, this session marked the first time users actually discussed their successes and concerns with the process. The discussion on implementation has progressed from why but, more specifically, to how," said Larry Warter of Warter Colors.
Beyond printing, there are additional revenue opportunities in postpress and in-line finishing. Profitable ideas were everywhere following the intriguing presentations by Ronen Cohen, vice president of marketing, Kodak Ink Jet Printing Systems Division; John Gaspari, vice president, manufacturing, SPC (Specialty Print Communications); and Adam LeFebvre, president, SCP. Gaspari and LeFebvre offered a point-counterpoint discussion on the factors you need to consider when determining if you should do your finishing inline or offline. With inline you have a one-stop process, skilled labor, long runs, complete control, and one-time on press. With offline your labor cost is higher, you have shorter runs, more uptime, and lower cost to modify or expand the project. LeFebvre stated, "Offline is the wave of the future because it is more flexible, modular, and some products just do not belong inline." Gaspari emphasized that the deciding factors in deciding whether to use inline or offline were "labor cost, quality required, speed of finishing required, waste, and machine loading."
The benefits of today's management information systems (MIS) can not be understated. "Selecting the right MIS system can save you time and money. In other words-drive costs out of your operations," stated Dr. Mark Bohan, vice president, technology and research. This session educated the attendees on Making MIS Work for Production. Automated job submission, automated scheduling, plus collecting production information for analysis, will make a printer more efficient and profitable.
After the exciting morning general session, the concurrent sessions for Leadership, Operations, and Production resumed with an extensive array of insightful topics. Helping You Find an Up Side in a Down Economy was Bob Cronin, partner at The Open Approach LLC. In these tough times it is vital to regain and retain your value, expand your growth opportunities, preserve your credit lines, and protect your investments. Cronin emphasized, "It is how you lead that will determine your company's future. All issues are important. Each customer is key to your future. Your people need you and you need them as you work together to build a future. It begins with attitude and belief, followed closely by a great strategy and hard work."
Is Intelligent Mail Barcoding Really Intelligent? This new technology is supposed to give mailers the opportunity to access USPS for a variety of services to increase operational efficiencies. Presenters Robert Galaher, manager, business mail acceptance, USPS; and Susan Pinter, director, postal systems, Arandell Corporation debated this topic.
Tradionalists. Boomers. Gen-Xers, Gen-Yers/Milleniums. These generation groups have vastly different work attitudes, needs, and priorities. Creel Printing brought a press crew who discussed their similarities-and differences-in Mixing and Managing Four Generations in the Pressroom. Steve Rogers, Vice President at Southwest Offset Printing, opened the session by describing the traits of the various generations, their personality quirks, reasons for working, priorities, and needs. As the Q&A of the press crew moved along, each pressman shared their thoughts on working with different generations. It became apparent that, while they were very different individuals, it was the respect they developed for each other that makes them a team that learns from each other and recognizes each other's strengths. Rogers concluded the session by stating, "A multi-generational workforce can give you a competitive advantage as long as you embrace and develop the positive attributes of each generation."
Paper is 40-60% of a printer's consumables cost, and the past year's price fluctuations and erratic inventory availability has created "Paper: The Perfect Storm." John Maine, vice president, printing and writing papers at RISI (Resource Information Systems), shared RISI's research on how the paper industry is reacting to the collapse in print media and print demand. He also provided insights on how exchange rates will impact paper prices and supply and the increasing world competition for paper supplies. The green and sustainable movement is also impacting paper supply. Jesse Williamson, COO of Williamson Printing, and Don Wallace, vice president, commercial print sales at AbitibiBowater, Inc., shared their views on the paper supply issue and noted that some print products will decline. Wallace suggested that when printers are facing a competitive situation they invite their paper supplier to join them on their sales call to help with presenting innovative print solutions.
While lean and sustainability are in the forefront of many companies' "to do" lists, comparatively few companies have made the full cultural shift and fully embraced lean concepts such as 5S, Six Sigma, and others. However, Japs-Olson and Lithographix have fully embraced lean processes, and detailed how they plan to sustain what they have put in place.
Managing Color in the Pressroom is basic and printers must continually be vigilant and maintain best practices in both prepress and the pressroom. Joe Suffoletto, consultant, and Don Goodenow, Flint Group, provided an outstanding review of how to get press sheets to match the proof by employing best practices.
Some of the liveliest sessions of the conference, in a room filled to the brim, was Pressroom Concepts of the Future, facilitated by Jim Workman, vice president, training at Printing Industries; and a blue-ribbon panel of both printers and vendors. As a basis for Workman's question to the panel were some predictions-both reasonable and interesting-from Frank Romano, industry guru. The concepts and potential technologies that were discussed were limitless. Ray Hartman, vice president of manufacturing at Cenveo, started by referring to pages of notes and described ValPak as what the future will be, saying, "The ValPak plant proves what you can do with an open checkbook, a vision, commitment, a greenfields approach, plus using a computer-integrated manufacturing approach." Panelists and attendees talked about vision technology, the next step after JDF/MIS, press maintenance, skills required of future "pressmen," digital technologies vs. offset, whether there will be plates on presses, how proofing will be accomplished, will there be onsite press checks, and much more. The ideas and discussion left everyone in the room energized and many discussions continued after the session concluded.
The popular UV Web Offset session-returning for the fourth year-sees the concept of UV printing becoming an emerging, rapidly growing segment of both heatset and coldest printers as the quality continues to improve while also reducing emissions, eliminating operating cost and waste. Attendees at the session discussed what materials work best, technical aspects of implementation, how to sell UV to their customers, and what they would do differently if they had to do it all over again.
What do you do with legacy equipment? This was the topic of the Tuesday Peer Exchange focusing on Increasing Productivity with Existing Equipment facilitated by Jerry Clark, director corporate accounts at Graphic Microsystems. Printers around the table shared various methodologies and procedures they used to improve their operations.