Toronto, Canada, the beautiful city on Lake Ontario, was the third stop on the DocuWorld Print and Publishing seminar tour. Over 180 printing and publishing professionals gathered and listened attentively to the whys and wherefores involved with digital publishing and the value added services that support the new dynamic. True to our mission, WhatTheyThink spoke with some of our Northern friends to determine “what they think” in Toronto.

Many printers in attendance related how slow the printing industry is in Canada, which is not much different than in the U.S. While early summer was excruciatingly slow, July and August saw a slight upturn with good volume starting to develop for the fall. One printer commented, "Our estimating staff is so busy they are putting in overtime to get all the RFQ’s completed.” He says that when his estimating team is busy, the plant will pick up in due course.

One of the more fascinating conversations I had was with a sales representative from a very progressive Canadian printer. This sales representative works for one of the few companies in the world that has both a NexPress 2100 and a DocuColor 2060. While I promised not to reveal her name, I believe she wouldn’t mind my sharing that the company she works for is putting a great deal of time, energy and money into developing an effective digital business model. This strategy will encompass many of the value added services highlighted at the seminar. She strongly believes that their future lies in the new age of digital communications. She said that they don’t know who will be the most successful manufacturer, but they are experimenting with many different suppliers related to output devices and front-end software. She feels that putting the blood, sweat and tears in now will position them as one of North America’s premier communication companies.

Another traditional prepress company shared his thoughts. His work is quickly disappearing and he needs to come up with a new game plan fast or go out of business. He wants to start up a digital print operation and feed it with orders taken over the Internet. He has contacted a company in Portland, Oregon, and wants to follow their model in Canada. “There is a niche for commodity printing purchased over the Internet at very attractive prices.”

A more typical conversation was with a reprographics company that was encountering problems with their traditional business lines. The VP of Operations came to this program to learn about new opportunities and he wasn’t disappointed. His firm just purchased a DocuColor 2045 and now he has a flood of new ideas to propel him forward.

Yet another printer reluctantly admitted that they are still confused about all the talk of variable data printing. "How does a company approach existing customers? Where does one acquire all this database knowledge?" These were big questions in his mind. But, they were only the beginning of a series of doubts this printer shared with me. He still was not convinced that his future was in offering fulfillment services.

Finally, I spoke with a printing sales rep whose company is just getting started in researching digital technologies and she was here to get a head start in what knowledge she would need to sell effectively. I commended her on her forward thinking. She said, "It is obvious this is the trend. Any rep who doesn’t take the time to learn will lose their business, and I hope it will be to me.”

The nest stop for the Printing and Publishing Seminar is Chicago. See you there or the city nearest you!