Reston, VA (November 23, 2008) Despite bleak worldwide economic news that had dominated the media in the preceding weeks, GRAPH EXPO 2008 exceeded expectations and enjoyed brisk business. While overall attendance was down 12.5 percent over the record-setting GRAPH EXPO 2007 show, interested qualified buyers from 8,800 individual companies-marking a slight increase in the number of unique companies over last year's show-flocked to McCormick Place, October 26 - 29, to see the hottest new technology demonstrated by more than 600 exhibitors across the expansive 450,000 sq. ft. show floor.
Interestingly enough, "The quality of attendees is higher [this year]," observed Michael Ring, chief marketing officer and VP of sales at digital printing system provider Xeikon, Punch Graphix Digital Printing Solutions, during the show. "We can more easily identify who to talk to."
Sharon McKenney, marketing manager at folding equipment manufacturer MBO America, also noted during GRAPH EXPO that the traffic was "excellent" and wasn't limited to only local attendees. "Attendees are coming from around the country," she said. "And [they] aren't window-shopping. They're looking for. solutions."
Indeed, many attendees were reportedly intent on buying at the show. "We've been coming to GRAPH EXPO every year for the last 15 years to buy equipment at the show," said attendee Betty Maul, president of Front End Graphics, a Cherry Hill, NJ, print production company that she operates with her husband. "We come with a budget, and we spend it all, every year."
Similarly, Michael Bressler, working partner at Accent Mail & Print/Affiliated Graphics, in Duluth, GA, said, "In the last year and a half, I merged our company and bought a second and now a third. So I'm looking at the voids that we have and how to fill them. There's no better place to accomplish my goals than here [at GRAPH EXPO]."
Media stories prior to the start of GRAPH EXPO had warned of a near-complete halt in spending and credit worldwide, but show producer Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC) counterattacked this unsettling economic news by researching the lending potential of exhibiting banks and third-party lenders. Attendees discovered on-site that there was plenty of money to lend-more than usual, in fact-just not through the typical large banks that were involved in the sub-prime and credit card debacle. Moreover, the business economic stimulus plan that GASC's partner organization NPES The Association for Suppliers of Printing, Publishing and Converting Technologies had promoted all year created an additional incentive for those ready to buy this year. These two factors-money to lend and bonus depreciation advantage-created an urgency to purchase at, and after, GRAPH EXPO 2008.
"GRAPH EXPO was a good show for us," reported Susan Baines, director of marketing at offset press vendor Komori America. "We've had quite a bit of momentum since the show that will carry us through the balance of the year."
Ultimately, more than 26,000 individuals attended GRAPH EXPO 2008. "Given the situation in the economy, we weren't sure what to expect at the show," acknowledged Sheryl Pattek, vice president, marketing services, production printing systems, at Océ North America. "However. the traffic [was] very steady. Sunday was the busiest Sunday I can remember in the last five years, and Monday was even busier."
Exhibiting companies reported great satisfaction with their sales at GRAPH EXPO, but several added that the customer service on the part of the show company made their experience all the more worthwhile.
"The GRAPH EXPO staff and show management bend over backwards to take care of their exhibitors and attendees," said Frank Millis, president of ExactBind, a vendor of professional binding systems. "They have demonstrated to us time and time again that they're interested; they're partners in helping us make sales."
Pattek of Océ North America summed up, "As the industry continues to converge, GRAPH EXPO is emerging as the premier show in the print industry to go to look at the latest technology."
GRAPH EXPO, which takes place annually, this year featured multiple special show-floor pavilions and more than 70 educational sessions. GRAPH EXPO is replaced every fourth year by the global PRINT show. The next PRINT event, themed "myPRINT" takes place from September 11 - 16, 2009 in Chicago's McCormick Place. For more information about PRINT 09, visit: www.print09.com.