October 10, 2003 -- The long awaited rebound in sales, profits and investment in the graphic communications industry is finally underway, judging from the performance of the recently concluded GRAPH EXPO and CONVERTING EXPO 2003.
The show, the largest of its kind in the Americas, took place in Chicago on September 28-October 1. More than 38,000 industry professionals took part in the event, and 580 companies exhibited their latest products and services in 375,000 square feet of display space.
“This show has been spectacular,” reported Mark Hunt, Vice President, Marketing at Standard Finishing Systems. “We’ve been wandering in the desert for several years, and now this is no mirage, we’ve found water. We’ve been rocking and rolling all day in our booth. We’ve had occasions throughout the day when we didn’t have enough people or enough equipment to do all the demos we needed to do. It’s been like being in the heat of battle.”
Similar impressions, along with reports of completed transactions large and small, came from all over the huge show floor.
“The quality of the people coming through has been high. We’ve had people making immediate purchases and others who are gathering information for a purchase,” said Barry Gray, technical sales specialist at Gerber Innovations. Sales Manager Mark S. Bibo agreed, adding: “This is one of the best shows in years.”
Hank A. Brandtjen III, president of Brandtjen & Kluge, Inc., said “this show has been brilliant for us. We’ve gotten nearly 200 good, qualified leads, and you can’t duplicate that. If I wanted to drive to see 200 prospects, it would cost me a fortune. This is a great show.”
Web Printing Controls Company doesn’t usually expect to close sales on the show floor, but closed several transactions at GRAPH EXPO and CONVERTING EXPO, said owner Dean Fetherling. “All indications are this will be a great success,” he said. “The right guys are showing up. Their needs have built up over the last few years and now they’re ready to move.”
Eric Frank, vice president/Marketing at KBA North America, observed “we’ve seen increased enthusiasm. Every demo has been full. We’ve gotten not only a bigger crowd but a more optimistic crowd.”
A similar experience prevailed at VUTEk Digital Printing Systems. “When things first started to pick up, nobody was sure if it was real,” said James Gill, territory manager. “Recently, it’s as if somebody pressed a button and things got started. Monday and Tuesday went fast. They were very busy days.”
At GBC’s Industrial and Print Finishing Group, Business Development Director Mitchell Noble also felt that “we’ve gotten people who have been sitting on the sidelines, and now they want to get back into the game. We’ve had very good traffic.”
Durst U.S. took part in the Wide Format Pavilion at GRAPH EXPO and CONVERTING EXPO, and Brand Manager Christopher Howard explained the company’s goal was modest. “We came here thinking it would be interesting just to talk to people” about applications of Durst’s high-end digital output systems.
Instead, Howard went on, “it’s been phenomenal. We haven’t just had nice conversations, but people who want actual demos. We’ve received a number of real sales leads.”
Kazem Samandari, vice president/Global Marketing and Product Management at Scitex Digital Printing, also reported that “we’ve closed sales in our booth, which we ordinarily don’t expect to do. We’ve been very busy and had a lot of interest. The show has been a great success for us.”
Jeff Marr, vice president/Sales at Colter & Peterson, described a simple way to measure a show’s success: “When the days just disappear, that’s a good show.” At GRAPH EXPO and CONVERTING EXPO, he added, “the show opened at 10:00 and the next thing I knew it was closing. People here aren’t just looking; they’re working with budgets and they’re looking to buy.”
For Kiersten Law, marketing specialist at ENCAD, Inc., one measure of the show’s success was the kind of conversations she was having in the company’s booth in the Wide Format Pavilion. “We’re getting a lot of solid business questions, about costs, pricing, and so on. We’ve definitely seen people coming here looking to buy.”
In addition to its exhibits GRAPH EXPO and CONVERTING EXPO offered a program of more than 60 educational seminars, which drew almost 1,500 registrants. A variety of free general sessions, brunch presentations, free vendor presentations, and mini-seminars staged on the show floor also drew steady crowds throughout the show.
GASC staged a special new Mailing & Fulfillment Center, complete with a seminar theater which drew capacity attendance for most sessions throughout the show, and a pavilion devoted to new binding technology, co-sponsored by the Binding Industries of America, along with its Wide Format Pavilion and Innovation Gallery.
“As a multi-dimensional industry rallying point, GRAPH EXPO and CONVERTING EXPO has always been number one,” noted Regis J. Delmontagne, president of the show’s managing company, the Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC). “With the added excitement of a distinct economic resurgence, this year’s show clearly became the most successful and encouraging event in several years.”
With several industry observers projecting sales growth for 2004 as well, next year’s show promises to continue the positive trends established in Chicago in October. GRAPH EXPO and CONVERTING EXPO 2004 will be held at McCormick Place South on October 10-13.
GASC is owned by the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL), NPES The Association for Suppliers of Printing, Publishing and Converting Technologies (NPES), and the Printing Industries of America (PIA). GASC is located at 1899 Preston White Drive, Reston, VA 20191-4367 USA, telephone: 703/264-7200, fax: 703/620-9187, E-Mail: [email protected]