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KBA web offset users group continues its annual meeting

Press release from the issuing company

KBA North America, a global press manufacturer based in Dallas, Texas, continued its popular traditional annual meeting of its KBA Web Offset Users Group by utilizing a new webinar format. More than 40 KBA web offset user members at 14 different print sites participated in the two-day event over a three-hour time period each day in this first-of-its-kind meeting. The KBA Web Offset Users Group is a formally-chartered organization with bylaws, a board of directors, and its own website.
"Our annual users group meeting is an integral interaction between KBA web offset press users and KBA management," says Gary Hall, president of the group and director of production and operations at the Milwaukee Sentinel. "This is an important forum for our members to share information critical to their plant's operational optimization. However, in light of the economy and the high cost of travel, we decided to offer for the first time an interactive audio and video presentation over the web rather than meet in person in Rockford, Ill., which had been the original host site."
Tom Letto, treasurer of the user group and production director of the Louisville Courier Journal, noted that the goal of the annual meeting is to maintain communication between members and KBA management, look at efficiencies, share opportunities, and provide feedback to sustain member operations. "The main focus, however, is our relationship with KBA," says Letto. "By purchasing a KBA web press, we've undertaken an important partnership with them. We want to fully preserve that two-way conversation."
Turning to the new webinar approach after meeting in person at different sites over the years proved to be an effective alternative. The technology to broadcast the event was in place at KBA's new corporate headquarters in Dallas but the user group board of directors needed to promote the two-day event so that members cleared their calendars to participate.
"In the end, our members agreed that the webinar was a very viable alternative but they look forward to face-to-face programs next year," says Letto. "Because it was interactive, they were able to maintain a dialogue between each other, the user group board, and KBA management. This new format even drew more members from each company, sometimes as many as five different representatives."
The KBA Web Offset Users Group membership is distinct due to its deep passion for their business, says Mark Jeffries, vice president of the user group and a representative from the Kansas City Star, and its partnership with KBA. "We understand that we need to take a pro-active approach with KBA and keep our dialogue open," says Jeffries. "KBA can only be more responsive to our needs if they know what those needs are."
After spending one day with only the membership involved in the users group meeting and a second day where KBA made their own presentation to the members, the webinar also devoted time to topics such as the economy, the changing trends in the newspaper industry, and the future of the market.
"We actively support our web offset users group and continue to look for ways to enhance the efficiency and value of their KBA presses," says Ulrich Wicke, vice president of web sales and service for KBA North America. "We appreciate continual communication with our users in order to provide the best possible customer service especially in difficult times. This is very important and makes a difference for a long term relationship."
The KBA Users Group has been actively meeting for the past seven years. Its members-users of KBA single-width and double-width web presses, including the Commander and Cortina-are large and small newspapers, publication, and magazine printers located throughout the United States.