This year’s SGIA Expo is being held in Las Vegas, October 22 to 24, but one day prior to the show, on the 21st, Roland DGA is hosting its ImagiNATION 2014 End User Conference, an inaugural one-day event co-located with the SGIA Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

A Roland user group conference has been in the works for several years. “It’s been a long-term vision of mine—and a lot of people [at Roland]—to put something like this together,” said Andrew Oransky, Senior Director of Marketing & Product Management at Roland DGA. “We would like our attendees to go away revitalized about their businesses, with new ideas about how to make money on their Roland devices, new finished products that they can sell to their customers, new markets that they can pursue.”

To those ends, the event, open to registered owners and operators of Roland equipment, will focus on not only practical production and business issues—pricing, color management, etc.—but also new applications and products. The event will offer educational workshop sessions organized into four tracks: Productivity and Business Management, New Applications, Software and Design, and Color Management. Attendees can of course “cut and paste” sessions to create their own custom track.

A sampling of session titles includes “Pricing Your Products Profitably and Making Prices Stick…Without Getting Stuck,” “Sustainability 101,” “Succeeding in the Business of Vehicle Wraps,” “Expanding into Apparel Decoration,” “Designing for Wide Format,” and “How Color Control Can Boost Your Sales.” There is even a session devoted to dynamic digital signage: “Going from Print to Pixels—Integrating Digital Signage Into Your Print Business.”

The event is about sharing information inside and outside specific sessions, and there is ample time throughout the day for networking where “our users can trade ideas with people from across the country who they might not normally come into contact with,” said Oransky. “We’d love it if the sign guys were talking to the garment decorators, and the garment decorators were talking to the ad specialty people and they were all bouncing ideas off each other.”

Session speakers include Roland’s product, business development and creative executives, but also outside experts, such as SGIA’s Marci Kinter to talk about sustainability; Ken Bach, Business Development Director for Aberdeen Fabrics to discuss textile printing; X-Rite’s Bruce Wright to discuss color management; and more.

The day will kick off with a special keynote address by Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing, a 15-time championship NASCAR team. Although NASCAR was famously one of the earliest adopters of vehicle graphics, that’s not the reason he was chosen to keynote this event.

“He’s a guy who started with an idea, a dream and one race car,” said Oransky. “Thirty years and countless wins and championships later, he not only owns what is considered one of the top-tier NASCAR teams, he owns a winery, he’s done incredible philanthropic things with pediatric cancer research and supporting local medical institutions. He’s a classic American success story. He always had a vision of what he wanted to do next, he was always thinking toward the future. We want the small business owners—our customers—to realize that if you have some vision, some creativity, and the drive to build something, you can do that.”

While the event is designed to add value to Roland users, “adding value” goes both ways. “For Roland, it’s an opportunity to get closer to our end users, it’s an opportunity for us to talk to people and get ideas from them,” said Oransky. “Some of the most incredible things we’ve ever seen come off our machines came to us not because someone [at Roland HQ] said ‘Here’s something we could do,’ it’s because someone called us or came up to us at a trade show and said, ‘I’m doing this really cool thing with a Roland that I want to tell you about.’ Eighty, ninety percent of the time, I look at the person and say ‘That is something never would have thought to do with one of my devices.’”

Throughout the industry, these kinds of user group conferences are becoming more common—and more popular. “In a macro sense, I think these kinds of events are the future of how not only Roland but all the OEMS are going to be talking to their customers,” said Oransky.

Information about Roland ImagiNATION 2014 can be found here.