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Industry Roundtable Day 1: Analyzing the Market - 2014

14 days of critical information to prepare your shop for the year ahead.

Big Picture

Which technologies are on the upswing – and which are on the downswing? What markets and applications look to be hot next year? How much of a role will sustainability play in your company? Which profit centers should you invest in?

Get answers to these questions and many more, from six of the wide-format marketplace’s most informed analysts and consultants. Over the next couple of weeks, The Big Picture will post critical questions with invaluable answers from our panel – all designed to help you ensure that your company charts its best course for a prosperous year ahead.

Each day leading up to the SGIA Expo in Orlando, we’ll feature a round of questions and answers from our panel participants. For this year’s edition of our annual Industry Roundtable, our participants include:

• Lori Anderson, president and CEO, International Sign Association (ISA, www.signs.org);
• Marco Boer, vice president, I.T. Strategies (www.it-strategies.com);
• Tim Greene, director, wide format consulting service, InfoTrends (www.infotrends.com);
• Dan Marx, vice president, markets & technologies, Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA, www.sgia.org);
• Peter Mayhew, director, LightWords Ltd. (www.lightwords.co.uk); and
• John Zarwan, managing partner, J Zarwan Partners (www.johnzarwan.com).

Q: What does the next year look like for print providers? Are you optimistic or pessimistic about 2014 for wide-format shops? And, perhaps on a lighter note, are there any film, book, or song titles that come to mind as you think about the year ahead?

Tim Greene, InfoTrends: I’m optimistic overall because our research with print buyers indicates that, by more than a 5:1 ratio, they expect their spending on wide-format signage and graphics to increase over the next year. But how much that helps print providers in general will depend on their ability to meet the needs of new and demanding customers.

Dan Marx, SGIA: I see 2014 as filled with opportunity. Industry confidence is quite strong, and confidence in the US economy has been ticking steadily upward. The “cautiously optimistic” we’ve seen in the past couple of years is less cautious – people are spending again.

Marco Boer, IT Strategies: Looking at the sell-through rate of wide-format printer equipment and supplies, we’re optimistic for wide-format print service providers’ business in 2014. For many PSPs, even sub-$25,000 investments are major commitments, one they wouldn’t be making unless they were feeling positive about the future.

Peter Mayhew, LightWords: It’s looking good for print service providers in 2014. We’ve reached the point where wide format has a role to play within the communications mix of most businesses, within many industry sectors. The ways in which wide format can be used are becoming widely understood by marketers – its effectiveness is persuasive, in many cases measurable, and customers are coming back for more.

John Zarwan, JZarwan Consulting: Very optimistic. The market continues to grow, fed by the creativity and innovation of print providers and their customers. Similarly, improving equipment, ink, and substrates are offering greater flexibility, productivity, and potential for increased profits.

Lori Anderson, ISA: I choose to look at the coming year with optimism and there’s good reason. We have weathered the worst of the economic downturn and signs are the economy is improving. In addition, the economy has forced many in our industry to strengthen their skills and explore ways to diversify their businesses while streamlining operations. That has set the industry up to come out strong as the economy continues to rebound.

Boer: And as far as a song goes, in reference to the new, innovative applications I just mentioned: Queen’s “We Will Rock You.”

Mayhew: I’m going to pick a film title, and it has to be Rush, the new film about the rivalry between two Formula One motor racing drivers in the 1970s. It reminds me of today’s wide-format market.

Marx: “Respect” by Aretha Franklin. I say this because our technology, and what we do with it, has gained the respect of the broader graphic-communications industry. We’ve become a force to be reckoned with!

Anderson: I’ll go with “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive.” There are so many things going right in our industry these days. If we focus on the aspects that are going right – the growing understanding of the importance of signage; technological changes that are improving our business workflow; and the new opportunities that present themselves – we’ll see that 2014 is a year of possibility.

Greene: This is a competitive business, and I believe it will be increasingly so. How about Cheap Trick’s song, “I Want You to Want Me?” 

Tomorrow, on Day 2 of our Industry Roundtable 2014: What are the top critical industry issues facing print shops right now?

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