One of my favorite things to do in my role with WhatTheyThink is to visit places engaged in the business of print, whether vendor or printer.  I've been lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel to some far away places - last year featured a trip to Canon in Japan and China (both firsts for me).  

I especially enjoy finding things industry related that are close to my home in Ohio.  It's always satisfying to know what is happening in your own backyard.  I got another chance to do just that by visiting the xpedx headquarters in Cincinnati (Loveland) Ohio for one of their "Wide Format Summits".

xpedx hosted a few wide format summits last year and the response was so great they expanded in 2013 to 14 total stops with 28 total events - each location scheduling the program for two days.  You may remember our own Richard Romano sharing his visit to a summit in Massachusetts.  Richard is our Wide Format Section Editor and he seemed to be as impressed with the event as I was.  

The content was a good mix of actionable data provided by Tim Greene of InfoTrends and xpedx wide format technology briefings by the xpedx team, including Dennis Killion (Marketing Director) and Rick Burdick (VP of Print Sales).

The InfoTrends data was worth the price of admission, which by the way was a free lunch.  Tim Greene, InfoTrends Director of Wide Format, presented a compelling case for why printers need to be taking advantage of the wide format opportunity.  As Tim pointed out and many of us know, it is one of the few growth segments in an industry that has been consolidating for several years due to pressure from competing digital forms of communication.  Wide format is seeing a 7.9% compound annual growth rate and the projections show  the value of the market for large format digital print in North America reaching $23.6 billion by 2016.  InfoTrends data suggest this growth to be due, in part, to marketers moving to the relatively low CPM of signage, wide and super-wide outdoor advertising, and fleet graphics.

The profitability numbers are better for printers as well - another reason many printers either have entered the wide format market or are planning to do so.

The summit finale included product demonstrations, which was especially good given we were in the same location as the xpedx Digital Print Technology Center!  Richard has some good details on the equipment in his article.

I was able to corner several people at the event with my trusty Canon EOS-M and get some video interviews that we've published on WhatTheyThink:

Rick Burdick of xpedx on their Wide Format Summits

Infotrends' Tim Greene on Wide Format Trends

Rick Autzen of Springdot on Entering the Wide Format Space

John Krehbiel of CJ Krehbiel Company on Exploring Wide Format

Blaine Gabriel of Ohio University at the xpedx Wide Format Print Summit