Our 14th day of critical information to help you prepare your shop for the year ahead.
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: Any parting observations on the market or industry as our readers are set to wrap up 2013 and make plans for 2014?
Tim Greene: It’s the heart of the NFL season, so I will apply an observation I just heard somebody make about an NFL team: “You’re either getting better or getting worse. Nobody is always the same.” This business is similar to that. We see companies constantly evolving in two directions: Investing in their business to become more operationally effective, or investing in their business to become more innovative. The constant is the need to invest in their business.
Lori Anderson: As we look ahead to 2014, I would encourage readers to build relationships with other printers and sign companies in their areas and with the broader business community. I’d also encourage them to explore opportunities to diversify in ways that make sense.
Marco Boer: Print is alive and well. Non-consumer and non-office printing equipment and supplies manufacturers revenues are stable, growing, and in many cases back up to 2007 levels. This is the best empirical indicator we have on the health of the industry, and of course there are lots of successful anecdotes to be found of print providers doing well again. It’s amazing to think that even after 20-years in this business it remains interesting and vibrant; there is still cause to learn something new every day and that’s what motivates many of us.
Peter Mayhew: Service providers have, in general terms, been making their existing hardware last a few years longer than might have been usual. There is a temptation for service providers to be in “replacement” mode when visiting tradeshows and to be persuaded by faster, better, cheaper claims by hardware OEMs who have had a very difficult time. We believe that there are sufficient new business opportunities in the wide-format market, over the next 12 months to justify a careful review of the business plan and, to grow into a new market or application with the right capital investment delivering a great ROI. However, that may not mean buying a wide-format product today.
Dan Marx: I’d urge the readers to stay informed. Read industry publications, and read up on the industries your company serves directly. Attend tradeshows, talk to other imaging professionals. Learn about the forces both inside and outside our industry that can affect your business. Look for new ways to do things, and commit yourself to efficiency.
Did you miss Day 12 of our Industry Roundtable? Click here for our experts’ take on Making Room for Sustainable Products and Practices.