Thought Leadership Video Series
Kodak Listens to its Users at GUA
Published on March 6, 2012
GUA President Tom Clifford shares the 17 year history of the GUA with Richard Romano and explores their partnership with Kodak over the years.
Richard Romano: Hi. This is Richard Romano from WhatTheyThink.com and we’re here in New Orleans, Louisiana, for the annual GUA Annual Conference. And we’re talking with Tom Clifford who is the President of the Kodak Graphic Users Association. Thank you for talking with us.
Tom Clifford: Thank you, Richard, for having me.
Richard Romano: Now the GUA has been around for about 17 years, is that correct?
Tom Clifford: Yes. We’re in our 17th year of the Conference.
Richard Romano: Now tell us a little bit about the history of the GUA. How did it start? How did it get involved with Kodak?
Tom Clifford: Well, the GUA started back in the days when it was Creo Users Association in Vancouver, British Columbia. At the time, Amos Michelson, the President of Creo, wanted to listen to what the users had to say and helped form that group. Now I’ve been involved since a year after that started, so I’ve been involved in it 16 of the 17 years.
Richard Romano: So now what are the services and value that GUA provides for its members?
Tom Clifford: I think the biggest value is exposure, the ability to come to a venue regardless if you’re, you know, the couriers, the Donleys, the competitors. You get to come, put kind of your swords away, and you get to learn and grow from your peers. You get access to Kodak’s best and brightest. You also get access to Kodak’s executives where they’ll listen to your triumphs and your troubles and try to help.
Richard Romano: And they are attentive and they listen?
Tom Clifford: Extremely attentive. Kodak gets it. Kodak brought—I mean we have almost 45 Kodak employees here to listen, to show, and to make their tools better.
Richard Romano: Now what about Kodak? They’ve had some organizational changes in terms of the graphical communications industry. How has that affected the GUA in its mission and its relationship with Kodak?
Tom Clifford: To be honest with you, it’s made it stronger. Right now the GUA is a strong organization; it’s always been strong. You know, the industry—most industries have had ups and have downs. Right now Kodak is in a down area but they need the strength of the GUA to support them. We have a unified group of people who love these products, who want to give feedback, and who want to make them better. You know, Kodak’s programmers and developers have done some amazing stuff with their tools and they continue to listen to make them better.
Richard Romano: Now what are some of the topics that this Conference will address?
Tom Clifford: Some of the topics that we’re going to be hearing, you know, we’re moving into marketing services so we’ll be talking about that. We get to see Prinergy 6. We’re going to get to see a new version of InSight. We have some—the valued partners are going to be here showing off their tools, a lot of new features that we’re going to get to see first before Drupa.
Richard Romano: Now in one of the Key Notes this morning, Chris Payne from Kodak was talking about some of the new areas that Kodak was going to be into, primarily digital and specifically, packaging. How has that been affecting the GUA membership?
Tom Clifford: Well actually, it’s affected GUA membership positively. We have a brand new board member who works for a packaging printer, Eddie Kopaczynski. We are trying to make sure that our ears are to the railroad track so that we know what is going to be coming down the road. It’s our job to kind of tell our users what they should be listening for. So I think that the packaging market, you know, certainly the digital print, some of the tools that you can add to your web offset press that has a digital component, these are like awesome technologies. And we need to be a part of it and to help our membership grow in that regard.
I’m really excited to be here in New Orleans this year and I’m thankful for the opportunity that we get to meet. Not many companies will invite all their users and have the users pay for their way so that they can listen. Kodak is very unique in that regard. And I think that the strength of the GUA sets us apart from other users groups. Now this isn’t a sales circus. This isn’t a, you know, we do have some valued partner but we’re coming together to make our digital infrastructure, our workflow for tools better. And I love the spirit that’s here, the collaborative networking spirit. Not that oh my gosh, there’s our competitors spirit. We don’t need any of that here. We just need to learn and to grow, and to know hey, you can solve my problems.
Richard Romano: Great. Thank you very much.
Tom Clifford: Thank you for having me.
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