At one time, in very recent memory, attending Graph Expo in Chicago was a must for anyone who was serious about being a printer. You were able to talk to equipment vendors, who were ready to close deals. You attended workshops to help you better understand the intricacies of the business and the trade which was printing. For those of us who lived in Texas, it was welcome relief from a long summer. A trip to Chicago and McCormick Place was something to anticipate.
I did not make the trip last year, but decided it was important to make the trip this year to our industry’s annual “overcapacity fest,” as the late Dick Gorelick liked to call it. Needless to say, it wasn’t the same. Gone was the heavy iron – Heidelberg did not have a single square foot at the show. Rather than seeing the familiar blue/white logo when entering, you saw the Xerox and HP booths. Then Kodak, EFI, Ricoh, Canon, and Konica Minolta. You eventually got to KBA, ManRoland, and Goss – but there weren’t any presses in those booths. As one of the attendees said to me, “The clicks you hear are not coming from sheets running through presses.
Yet, the same energy and networking and sharing of ideas was still evident. The overall mood was upbeat and many of the exhibitors I spoke with were very positive about the show. There was a heavy presence of mailing and ink jet equipment along with various finishing devices. I did not see as many stand-alone MIS and workflow providers as in the past, and the amount of square footage utilized was much less than two years ago.
When you walked the floor, it was very apparent that change was everywhere, and that’s not a bad thing. Overall the show was a very positive event, and in my mind, it’s just another message that print continues to be a viable medium – we’re just going to produce it differently.