By Thayer Long

I’ve been sequestered at home with my family. I’ve been making the most of my time out of the office, as has the entire staff at APTech. When I asked the APTech team what they missed most about being at the office, number one was the chocolate jar in Ken’s office, which was also an analogy for the impromptu conversations that happen when you drop-in on a colleague in their office. We’ve had our fair share of video conference calls, but it just isn’t the same.

Living with the backdrop of uncertainty, economic destruction, shortages of certain goods, displacement of human interaction, and death is nothing but numbing. Listening to the brightest minds in the world argue, each with a distinct set of facts, reminds me of the expression, “If you torture data enough it will confess to anything.” 

That said, there has been a lot of positivity that has come out of humanity being in this together. There are so many amazing stories of how printing industry members have contributed. And equally important but more difficult stories on how printers have resolved to weather the storm and unfortunately have had to make some very tough decisions. But I also know that many businesses will be born during this time.

APTech is both of those—a legacy business with a plan to renew itself. 2020 was the year APTech was going to be reborn—in fact we planned for it. Timing is great, right folks? Well, in some ways, the timing couldn’t have been better. It might take a crisis  like this to defeat the old business model, once and for all. And maybe this is also the moment where the old printing business model, which is still so prevalent, is  finally defeated.

We serve those who print, and cash flow is probably crap right now, and your pipeline is off anywhere between 20–60%. Suppliers are also in the same boat. So, most everything we do is not to just serve members, but the industry. So, the first thing that happened is our pricing model has gone out the window for a while. All of it.

So far, APTech has been leading out in the print industry by transitioning our in-person for pay events to online for free. We have also just launched a new website. So, we think that improving our online user experience and the way we deliver content couldn’t come at a better time. We’re also launching a new executive development program with George Mason University this June.

At APTech, we’re spending this time in quarantine thinking about the future and working to deliver better, more robust, user friendly content. We hope that what we’re doing will help OEMs and PSPs get closer to their customers to deliver better—not necessarily more. By the end of 2020, we will have developed three new platforms to reach the end user (brand) market around different market segments. And we will be adding more in 2021.

If you haven’t already, adjust your mindset on how to create more value for your clients.  And think not about those businesses and industries which will be going away, think about those businesses which are being created.

To learn more about our new programs,  access our research and get up-to-date  information on industry standards visit

Thayer Long is president of the Association for Print Technologies (APTech) and serves as president of the Graphic Arts Education and Research Foundation (GAERF).