In recent months, WhatTheyThink.com has been greatly exposed to The Printing Association of Florida (PAF) while we have collaborated to promote the 2003 Graphics of the Americas trade show. Working with their staff has been a very positive and energetic experience, a reminder of the value of Associations within our industry.
PAF is 65 years old and represents an industry that is the largest manufacturing employer in Florida with 85,000 employees. Their headquarters is in Orlando with an office in Miami. PAF offers over 60 programs and services including legislative and regulatory advocacy, an employee referral program, credit reporting, business referrals, networking, education and training and much more.
The PIA/GATF affiliate federation model uses local resources, including those provided by PIA and GATF, to bring solutions to members at the local level. Says Mike Streibig, “I believe this is the strongest organizational model currently existing in the association field and we are fortunate to be able to offer this level of service to PAF members.”
Mike Streibig is the President and CEO of PAF. We think you will understand the title, Florida printers should be proud, after reading the interview. And if you are a printer in Florida, you should be more than proud, you should be aPAF member.....
- Keeping membership dues down
- Graphics of the Americas trade show
- Trade show trends
- Government issues in Florida
- “Print: The Original Information Technology”
- Membership, an essential tool for printers
WTT: Many association leaders we speak with are challenged to retain membership during these tough economic times. We understand that your Board has looked at additional ways to bring value as a selling point and PAF has avoided lowering or raising membership dues. Can you comment on that?
Mike Streibig: PAF has a unique approach to membership recruitment and retention. When PAF combined three Florida graphics arts associations in 1992, we knew we had a challenge facing us. Florida is a large state and we wanted to increase the level of service to our members. We decided to structure ourselves with a central location and three membership people in the field making face to face calls on members and prospects – promoting programs and services that will help them improve their profitability.
The field staff, a formidable team, is supported by our member services staff at the Orlando headquarters. They provide timely and consistent feedback to the Board and myself by identifying member needs and concerns, providing us with the information necessary to adapt or change our programs and seminars, and keep us abreast of the constantly changing marketplace.
Since we are dealing with businesses, the Board feels that PAF should also operate as a business. While our dues structure has been the same for ten years, we don’t expect our members to pay dues just to support the Printing Association of Florida. We challenge ourselves to justify our dues by showing our members that they are able to increase their revenues and reduce or control expenses by taking advantage of our programs and services.
As far as dues are concerned, they have been at the same level for the past ten years. The success of our industry trade show, Graphics of the Americas, has allowed us that luxury.
WTT: Tell us about the Graphics of the Americas (GOA) show. How many printers (buyers, excluding vendors) will attend this year and what can they expect in terms of the exhibits and seminars?
Mike Streibig: We are really excited about our show this year. The theme is "GOA: The Crossroads of the Americas" and it truly is. GOA is no longer just a Florida exposition. We have exhibitors and attendees from throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, Mexico and Canada, Europe, and the rest of the United States. We have more than 500 companies exhibiting in over 1500 booths in the 502,000 square foot exhibition hall. And, based on our pre-registration numbers, we expect nearly 20,000 attendees.
The seminar program offers in-depth coverage of Direct-to-Plate technology, Pre-Press, Future Trends, Sales and Marketing, Management, Pressroom, and Bindery Operations. The program is divided into tracks, so that attendees can choose the seminars that fit their needs.
The exhibitors will be featuring everything from heavy equipment to the latest in design software. While our show has traditionally been a heavy metal show, and as designers become more involved in the print buying process, they are attending in record numbers.
We’ve reached out to companies like Adobe and Wacom who target designers. The result is Design City, an area specifically designated to those exhibitors. Free mini-seminars focusing on design products and issues will be presented throughout the day right on the show floor in Design City.
WTT: It is well reported that many trade shows have struggled during this tough economy. How has GOA fared in recent years and what evolution if any is occurring in the trade show business?
Mike Streibig: Graphics of the Americas has grown from a small table-top show in a Holiday Inn in Miami 28 years ago to the second largest graphics art show in the U.S. today. This year we occupy all four halls at the Miami Beach Convention Center. We’ve been fortunate to have a broad base of exhibitors and attendees involved in every sector of the industry. In a slower economy smaller shows tend to have a difficult time. Attendees, with limited travel budgets, attend larger shows, where they can do "one-stop-shopping," so to speak. While other shows have found it difficult, we’ve been able to stay the course and hold our own.
WTT: Many associate the industry’s pure graphic arts trade shows with GASC, which is owned by PIA, NAPL and NPES. But GOA is wholly owned by PAF. Tell us about this structure, your relationship with GASC and the reason GOA has stayed independent.
Mike Streibig: Although the PAF Board is the controlling governing body of The Printing Association of Florida and Graphics of the Americas, we realized some years ago that we needed a leaner management structure. In 1997, after several strategic planning sessions, the Board authorized the creation of the GOA Trade Show Council. We realized that the trade show was a business and the economic engine for PAF and we needed to manage it like a business.
As for our relationship with GASC, we have a mutual goal: we both want graphics industry trade shows to do well. Under the leadership of Regis Delmontagne, GASC has been a major force and contributed a great deal to the growth and strength of our industry over the years.
GOA has chosen to remain independent because it is our identity, and an integral component of the Printing Association of Florida. We have relationships with Conlatingraf and its member countries in Latin America that have given GOA the unique niche of the leading "Regional International" graphics show in the world. We believe the GOA provides PAF and our members with a resource that positions us to take advantage of the evolving "new global economy".
WTT: Competitively speaking, GOA appears to have a great spot on the calendar. It’s the first major show of the year and the weather is quite pleasing in Miami during January. How important are these features and how does GOA compare to other industry shows?
Mike Streibig: To be perfectly candid with you, the weather in Miami in January sure doesn’t hurt. You just don’t get better weather anywhere! The biggest benefit we get from the timing is our position as the first show of the year. GOA exhibitors know that many of the print equipment buyers at our show have newly replenished budgets for equipment purchases. Attendees know they can come to our show, buy the newest equipment, learn about the latest advances and attend cutting-edge seminars, all in three days.
WTT: We were surprised with the International flavor of GOA with over 40% in past years of attendance coming from outside the U.S. Tell us how PAF and GOA foster interest from outside the U.S.
Mike Streibig: It’s all about building relationships. We have long and enduring friendships with the leaders of the South American and Caribbean print communities. We work closely with Conlatingraf, the association of Latin American printing associations, and we partner with all the major Latin American printing publications to ensure that their readers have all the latest information regarding GOA. We are now recognized as the official North American Conlatingraf show.
Through these friendships we’ve learned, for example, that many Latin American printers are also involved in converting, much more than their North American counterparts. Knowing this, we brought in converting equipment manufacturers, like Mark Andy-Comco, and the results have been spectacular. We now have the Converting Pavilion, set aside for converting equipment manufacturers. It has proven a strong growth area for the show.
From 1983 through 1991, we honored a different Latin American Graphic Arts leader each year. In 1994, we broadened the event to include a North American leader symbolizing the linking of the Americas. This year’s elegant Graphic Arts Leaders of Americas (GALA) reception and banquet will be held on Friday, January 24th at the Alexander Hotel on Miami Beach. The evening, hosted both in English and in Spanish, will honor Anselmo Morvillo, President and founder of Anselmo L. Morvillo S.A. and Ray Roper, President of the Printing Industries of America.
WTT: Back to PAF: In a recent WTT report ("Trade Associations, What Printers Think") printers expressed that one of the primary benefits of association membership was Government representation. What are some of the leading issues in Florida that your members are concerned about?
Mike Streibig: The Government Affairs Committee is working now to develop the major issues to be addressed in 2003.
I feel certain that our number one priority will be retaining the sales tax exemptions we fought so hard to obtain. Governor Bush has already indicated that revenue growth is expected to be a problem and the costs of running the state continues to rise so it looks like Florida is going to have a difficult time balancing the budget which could lead to a move to review and overhaul current exemptions.
Additional major concerns to Florida printers and all businesses are the skyrocketing costs of health insurance and workers compensation benefits. We will be forming coalitions with the Chamber, NFIB, Associated Industries, and other business advocacy groups to address these issues and others.
WTT: In the same report, printers indicated a desire for a strong branding of the industry much like the Beef and Milk industries. Some praised the campaign "Print: The Original Information Technology" which was led by PAF and adopted by PIA national. Tell us briefly how the idea got started? Is the industry catching on and do you think trade magazines and other visible industry spots will begin to help promote this effort?
Mike Streibig: For years the Printing Industry has struggled to develop a cohesive identity. This effort has been fragmented and disjointed as some industry groups added imaging or communications to their names. It is no wonder that the purchasing community and general public are confused.
After 9/11/01, the PAF Board met to look at options to assist members because we knew businesses were going to be severely impacted by the tragedy and we were looking for ways to help. Shortly before, Ray Roper of PIA National and I talked about a major public opinion study by the British Printing Industries Federation ---the BPIF. The study revealed that print media was not as well perceived in Great Britain as other media. The public relations firm conducting the survey recommended that the BPIF initiate a campaign to position print as part of the IT sector.
Ray developed a logo around the theme, "PRINT, THE ORIGINAL INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY," and described his vision for a multi-faceted campaign involving most of the companies and every national, regional and local organization associated with print media.
The objective is national awareness and positioning print as part of the information technology or "IT" sector of the U.S. economy. It will also target audiences who are important to our industry - such as our lawmakers. The PAF Board backed the campaign unanimously, and launched the campaign in Florida with funding for, and development of, five ads introducing the PRINT IT theme.
PAF also developed a special eight-page insert for the December 13th edition of the Florida Business Journal, which reaches 49,000 businesses and professional leaders in Florida. We are promoting PRINT as the base media – consistent, credible and reliable - directly to buyers as a service to our members.
PAF looks at this campaign as a marathon not a sprint. By creating a consistent logo with a modern message, the PIA took the first step. The Board of Directors of the PAF has taken the second step. We have additional inserts planned as well and a number of Florida publishers have agreed to run our ads in their publications as an industry service.
Our challenge is to get all of the industry stakeholders behind this campaign to achieve success.
WTT: Finally, everyone knows that most printers have struggled with pricing pressure and a rough economy thereby straining cash flow. Tell us the primary reason that being involved in an association like PAF is an essential line item for their budget.
Mike Streibig: Believe it or not, this is an easy question to answer. We can show a real return on investment for PAF dues!
In 1998, we were able to get legislation passed that exempted Florida printers from sales taxes on capital equipment acquisitions. In 1999, we got additional legislation passed exempting them from taxes on film and plates. We were also successful in getting sales tax exemptions on electricity and equipment repair – covering parts and labor.
Our typical member has 8 employees and based on the average annual expenditures for the items listed, the yearly sales tax savings would be $5,452. PAF’s annual dues, on the other hand, for this eight-employee company are only $650. Where can you find a return on investment like this?
One of our larger members purchased $20 million in equipment one year and saved $1.2 million in sales taxes. His savings paid for his membership for the next 300 years!
And that doesn’t even take into consideration the 60 other services we offer, such as business referrals and employee referrals that keep adding to the return on investment. We’re quite proud of our track record in delivering tangible results and terrific returns.