Reston, VA – Proving once again its value to the graphic communications industry, PRINT 09 overcame the challenges of a severe global recession to host the year’s international graphic communications exhibition. More than 18,000 print professionals from 94 countries assembled at the expansive McCormick Place in Chicago, September 11 – 16, to examine, compare and purchase the latest graphic communications technologies.
While overall attendance was lower than at the previous PRINT, which took place in 2005, when the economy had been enjoying relatively steady growth from the previous few years, PRINT 09 drew a total 28,678 attendees, which included exhibitors and attendees, and 18,999 actual verified attendee/buyers. Based on it’s commitment to reporting the truest and most accurate attendance numbers, show producer the Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC) defines ‘actual verified attendees’ as registered on-site show goers—counted only once—regardless of their number of days at the show, or times they enter the exhibit hall(s). Show data reports also reveal the event drew high-level attendees from 10,512 unique buyer companies who came to explore the equipment, products, services and applications demonstrated by the 680 exhibiting companies that occupied 566,284 sq. ft. of space across the expansive North and South Halls of McCormick Place. Also, new to the show this year were 126 first time exhibitors, many of whom joined veteran exhibitors in recognizing the high caliber of attendees at this year’s show.
“The quality of attendees was outstanding,” reported Richard Trapilo, executive vice president and general manager of C.P. Bourg, Inc.
According to Don Ohlig, managing director of Fabrication Concepts Corp. OLEC Technologies LLC, “From my point of view, the show was very good. We were manning three booths and had steady traffic most of the time. I know there was not the number of visitors that most wanted, but the attendees were serious and more upbeat than I had seen in a while.”
“PRINT has the caché, and attendees know that,” said Paul Foszcz, marketing manager at manroland Inc. North America. “If you’re looking to buy something in this industry, you’re here at PRINT. That’s one of the reasons we’re here.”
Mark Levin, president of Presstek Americas, observed “Especially in difficult economic times, it can be hard to predict the return on investment from a major trade show such as PRINT 09. Presstek was delighted with our decision to support the show.” Brian Wolfenden, director of marketing communications for Presstek, Inc. shared that “The show proved a strong venue to announce our new products and reinforce our brand image. We took order commitments across our entire product portfolio and captured qualified leads. PRINT 09 also helped us to gain exposure to a larger and more diverse audience.”
Dave Jackson, of EP Graphics in Berne, IN, was one of those who came to PRINT to buy. “PRINT gives you a chance to check out the newest equipment releases and talk with several industry experts in a very short period of time. Fortunately, we were in a position to be doing more than window-shopping,” he explained. “Over the past year we added digital printing to our bag of tricks, so we were shopping for software and finishing equipment to support that venture.”
Andrew Shama, from Proven Direct, Milwaukee, WI stated that his company attended the show because, “We like to put faces to names and to see all the new technology. The show provides a good way to arrange one-to-one meetings with specialists at vendor companies, see new products that are hush-hush, compare products in person and see the equipment running.”
PRINT exhibitors observed that attendees represented not just commercial printers but all segments of the graphic communications industry, including digital printers, book publishers, newspaper publishers, in-plant printers, transactional printers, mailing and distribution professionals, along with print buyers, and among others. Sophia Farina, Quark Inc.’s director of marketing for North America, for example, pointed out that she was able to see not just printers but also graphic designers and students at the show, while Jeffrey Brewer, vice president and general manager for GBR Systems Corp., commented on the number of mailing professionals who attend. “Because PRINT focuses on the entire process, including finishing any number of ways, they deliver all the people we need to put that process together from one to the other. No other show does that,” Brewer said.
Summed up by Ron Pueschel of bielomatik jagenberg, Inc., “PRINT and GRAPH EXPO come the closest of all the North American shows to addressing all the market segments we serve.”
The breadth of segments represented and range of technologies shown at PRINT 09 was an attraction for attendees as well, who were able to take in the newest profit-boosting equipment, products and services from the 680 exhibitors during the show.
“PRINT is a one-stop shop for new technology and new products, and most of the vendors we want to see are here with their new equipment,” said Roger Supalla, operations manager at Card Fulfillment Services in North Mankato, MN. “In this economy, you have to justify spending money on travel. We felt it was very beneficial for us to attend and see the new inkjet technologies and many other technologies.”
According to Howard Harris, president of Eagle:XM in Denver: “Technology is all about creating a big bang, but the real challenge is how you put it together. PRINT offers a great opportunity to look at future applications that would serve our customers and the related technology to create efficient systems to meet their needs.”
As Mike Jeziak, president of Inkslingers USA, an experienced show goer and owner of a chain of tattoo studios, the patent for tattoos on clothing, and a large clothing line, remarked about the scope and breadth of PRINT 09, “We’ve gone to shows at the Rosemont Center and in New York, Las Vegas and Florida for years looking for one that has all the machines, graphics and packaging we need for our unique application, and this is the one I really needed to be at.”
Ultimately, “as trade shows have consolidated, our customers point to this show to find the solution to every application that’s keeping them up at night,” said Michael Aumann, president, Buhrs Americas, Inc. And, due in part to GASC’s efforts to make PRINT 09 a valuable and educational experience for those who were there, exhibitors and attendees alike expressed great satisfaction with the show.
“In spite of the economy, we had good attendance at our booth,” said Karen Gross, executive director of the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership. “We were able to reach a large number of our target audience in a short amount of time with a very concentrated effort by our staff. It’s difficult to reach these numbers in any other available format in such a short amount of time.”
Noted Jackson of EP Graphics, “I’ve been attending PRINT and GRAPH EXPO shows for 20-plus years, and this was the most productive show I’ve attended. All of our show goals were accomplished, and we are looking forward to the future with much optimism.”
Echoing the positive feedback about PRINT 09, Shamez Asaria, senior global trade show & applications manager of Gandinnovations stated, “We’re trying to pull people from different parts of the industry and this is a perfect show for us; Gandinnovations attends 32 shows each year around the world, but we are planning to exhibit a GRAPH EXPO 2010 and anticipating a better economy to showcase new products—PRINT and GRAPH EXPO are good venues for that.”
Next up for the industry is GRAPH EXPO 2010, with the return of PackPrint, set to take place October 3 – 6, 2010, at Chicago’s McCormick Place South. Considered the commercial printing, publishing, package printing, mailing and transactional exposition for the Western Hemisphere, GRAPH EXPO 2010 is expected to welcome more than 550 vendors. Attendees will be able to see the latest graphic communications technologies, ‘live’ running equipment on the show floor, explore the newest applications, and learn about the most in-demand products and profit-making opportunities at six special-interest pavilions planned for the show that will include the debut of the new Newspaper Pavilion.