Graph Expo is a mirror; it reflects the printing industry. As such, the 2007 edition of this venerable event shows us in great shape. Use any metric you want — traffic (in the exhibits as well as getting into and out of the place), sales (everyone I ran into bought something; a Boston printer beamed when he said he acquired a Heidelberg 105), or even seminar attendance (the highest ever).
Here is my short list of observations and comments:
Best social event: the NAPL Soderstrom Society at the Art Institute. What was so funny about that picture of me from 35 years ago in the NAPL history? I had hair once.
Best supplier event: Xerox and friends at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Before there was Animal Planet, there was Marlin Perkins and Zoo Parade.
Best association executive: Ralph Nappi has breathed new life into NPES and his first real Graph Expo was a shot out of the park. We need more of the new thinking, new ideas, and new engagements that he brings to bear.
Most interesting MustSeeUm: Bill Lamparter reviewing the list of MustSeeUms.
Most missed MustSeem: The Kodak Print Ambassador program is a fun and innovative way of promoting print. It should be recognized and applauded.
Best way to tell volume of new stuff: This was the lightest year for press kits ever. The press room was mostly empty (and we know that media folks go where the free food is).
Worst attempt to hide the truth: The exhibit hall was said to be sold out. They meant that the South Hall was sold out. There were Graph Expos that did take up more space — but there were more companies and more stuff. I recall the entire North Hall was Electronic Prepress once.
Best presentation: Dr Joe Webb at the WTT event talking about the future. Usually, Dr Joe only works from quarter to quarter.
Worst summit meeting: The so-called Educational Summit was well intentioned but badly set up and organized. There was no agenda, no printed material, and every person or group with an egotistical or financial interest was there but only selected folks got to speak. I went out of respect for Ray Prince, but was sorely disappointed. Nothing generated as a result of that meeting will have any value.
Best person to sit next to when you are feeling blue: Mary Garnett of PIA/GATF just exudes good vibrations. She is a great asset to this industry for many professional reasons as well.
Best press conference: EFI, even though Guy Gecht, Chairman, did not quite get the script. Their fashion show of fabric printed on the VuTek inkjet printed shows the shape of things to come.
Most interesting product preview: QuarkConnects. At a print supplier breakfast they gave a peek into a new product that is like iTunes for printing services.
Most interesting fact gleaned from a show of hands: Most print buyers at one luncheon use InDesign.
Most interesting follow-up fact gleaned from a show of hands: None of them have upgraded to CS3.
Best quote: Don Goldman, my twin brother, said "Printers do not schedule; they expedite."
Most interesting company: HP. They are digital printing at every level, in every form, for anyone.
Greatest printing buying advocate ever: Margie Dana brought over 170 high-level print buyers together for a first ever Graph Expo event.
Best off-site meeting: I was privileged to attend a meeting of one of the many peer groups that are in existence. This one had 10 members, each in the $30 Million range. They share, group purchase, and may someday implement a high-level distribute-and-print approach.
Lastly, most avaricious and stupid act: The Hyatt McCormick Place charged me $4.50 for a bottle of water that I brought TO my room. It had a blue label similar to theirs. The fact that their pricey fluid was still on the shelf was unnoticed.