In a conference call with a select group of media yesterday, NPES unveiled  what it characterizes as a “bold new direction” with its 2020 Strategic Plan. Under new leadership for a year, since Thayer Long took over the reins in April 2016, the organization has been evaluating its performance and considering where it wants to be as an organization by 2020 – and what value it can and will bring to the printing industry.

The biggest news out of the call was the fact that effective immediately, NPES has assumed full ownership of the PRINT and GRAPH EXPO tradeshows. This modification, according to Long, will enable the industry to reimagine these events within the context of a new strategic vision to best support and drive print industry growth. As our readers will remember, the Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC) was a three-way partnership between NPES, the Printing Industries of America, and NAPL (now part of Idealliance). PIA and Idealliance will continue to be involved with the show, according to Long, but he did not specify what their role would be and declined to discuss financial arrangements, saying in an email following the call, “While the financial disclosures are not going to be made public, as sole owner NPES will be better suited to make significant investments into the event to increase the value.”

Long acknowledged the 35 years of collaboration among the three partners who historically made up the Graphic Arts Show Company, but stated, “We felt that in order to transform the event in a way that aligns with NPES priorities, we needed to obtain full ownership. It wasn’t anything our partners did or didn’t do, and that’s an important message.  But we wanted to make the show about the success of industry, and we felt it was best if we did it as sole owner.”

While specific plans for the show, which moves back to Chicago in September after being held in Orlando FL last year, were not revealed, Long was emphatic that the focus would be on creating value for attendees. When asked how this would be different from what has been done in the past, Long said, “Don’t underestimate the power of perspective. Our perspective will be a focus on the attendee, measuring success not by square footage on the exhibit floor, how successful we are in helping the community of attendees solve their business problems.”

Long sees the value chain being served by the show as OEMs, the printer community, marketing agencies and brand owners. Today, NPES membership consists primarily of equipment manufacturers. Does this new vision mean NPES will be actively recruiting other members of the value chain as members? Long says no. But he did say we could expect to see education play a more prominent role in the association’s events moving forward, adding, “The community needs to see the technology, and they want to see the technology, and that is important. But helping them grow their businesses is also a huge component and education is an important part of that.” The vision views Graph Expo/Print as the “home” of the printing community, a home they will want to return to each year because they are able to take away actionable ideas they can immediately implement to help grow and improve their businesses.

The NPES 2020 Strategic Vision encompasses two priorities:

  • PRIORITY FOCUS ONE: Convene, Lead, and Drive the Global Printing & Imaging Value Chain toward Operational Excellence.
  • PRIORITY FOCUS TWO: Position and Engage the Global Printing & Imaging Industry for Growth throughout the Value Chain.

It encompasses six pillars:  Research, Facilitate, Advocate, Brand, Expand and Train. Advisory groups are working through the details of each of these pillars, including considering rebranding of the organization.

Long commented, “Through our strategic planning process, we are choosing to be a leader. We know we can’t do it all on our own, and we are actively working to look at new partnerships and to strengthen existing partnerships. There are lots of organizations that touch the industry out there that can be part of this community.”

WhatTheyThink will continue to follow developments as they are unveiled to keep our readers up to date as to what to expect from NPES, as well as Print 17 and beyond. We will also be reaching out to Printing Industries of America and Idealliance to gain insight from them as to their thoughts about the show and the future of their partnership with NPES.