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SGIA Expo 2009 Preview

Specialty graphics expo returns to New Orleans.

This year, the Specialty Graphics and Imaging Association Expo (SGIA) is swinging through New Orleans, offering big opportunities in The Big Easy. No matter your print trade, the expo—to be held October 7-9 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center—has you covered.
 

Though New Orleans is often known as a town that can take its toll on the expense report, you don’t have to break the bank to experience the 2009 edition of the expo and have a good time. SGIA (sgia.org) understands the current financial crunch under which most print providers find themselves. Offering free expo passes until September 4 as well as a handful of free educational sessions, SGIA believes attendees should use the event as a source to explore future opportunities.
 

“The SGIA community is on a positive track for future success, but it will be a fast and ever-evolving ride,” says Michael Robertson, SGIA’s president and CEO. “I encourage you to stay informed and hold your position on the leading-edge as new opportunities emerge. You’ll see many new opportunities and the innovative technologies to make them happen at the 2009 SGIA Expo.”
 

Application zones and inspiration SGIA is projecting attendance at 15,000 people. Luckily, like the Crescent City, the SGIA Expo has something for everyone, and has created three special “Expert Advice Zones” for specifi c areas of applications/opportunities that print providers may want to explore:
 

• The Graphics Application Zone, hosted by SGIA’s Professional Decal Application Alliance (PDAA), will showcase in-person demonstrations of graphics by vehiclewrap experts to various objects and surfaces: truck trailers,autos, tables, brick, glass, concrete, walls, and floors. Attendees will also be able to try their hand at various types of install work, utilizing fi lms, pressure-sensitive media, inks, etc.
 

• The latest apparel concepts will be on display in
the Digital Apparel Production Zone, where technologies such as dye-sub, direct-to-garment inkjet, heat transfer, print-and-cut vinyl, drying, and more will be on display. Apparel experts will be on hand to provide info on technology, profits, pricing models, tips and tricks, and more.
 

• There’s also the Digital Textile Finishing Zone, where attendees can meet leading industry suppliers and see digital textile-fi nishing concepts such as sewing, grommeting, seaming, edge-welding, trimming, and dye-sublimation transfer.
 

Looking for other opportunities and/or inspiration that can lead to shop profits? If interiors are your thing, there’s the Interior Design Display, where industry experts will show off how they use their imaging abilities to print custom wallpaper, pillows, and tabletops.
 

Another option is to peruse the various award and competition areas. The Golden Image Gallery will showcase projects of industry-leading excellence in specialty printing. SGIA allows members one free gallery entry for almost any type of imaged product, and with more than 40 categories, the gallery is a great way to observe the vast talents of the specialty imaging industry. Category winners— including the Andre Schellenberg honors—will be named at the Golden Image Awards.
 

In addition, the Product of the Year Competition will honor the industry’s most innovative product; the HowardParmele Award—SGIA’s highest honor—recognizes the ongoing commitment by an industry professional to advance specialty imaging’s products, services, or overall image; the Innovator Award recognizes industry professionals who have made a lasting impact on the industry; and the ASPT Student Awards Competition recognizes screen and digital-imaging projects by secondary or post-secondary school students. Think you have what it takes? The deadline for the Howard Parmele Award is September 1. The Golden Image and Product of the Year awards are accepting entries until September 25. Visit the SGIA website for application forms.
 

Gaining experience
SGIA is offering more than 50 educational sessions during the three-day expo, including three free Expert Panels Wednesday morning on digital graphics, garment decoration, and screen graphics. Here’s a look at just a few of the other educational
highlights:


• 2009 State of the Industry: Katy Sauër Lellelid, business information associate with SGIA, will analyze the latest industry stats.
• Flatbed Economics – What Flatbed Press is Right for You?: Explores the fi nancial model to determine the appropriate time to add a fl atbed or upgrade, and evaluates how the purchase decision impacts a shop’s bottom line. Led by Fujifilm Sericol’s Jeffrey Nelson.
• Sourcing Sustainable Products: Why Is It So Difficult?: Laura Maybaum, graphics market segment manager for Nazdar, will highlight the lack of green products and information facing print providers and provide basic guidance.
• High Volume Digital Print Production and Workflow Automation: Will focus on current trends in high-volume inkjet printing systems for the wide-format market, including how technology enables higher-volume digital printing; workflow characteristics that are making the implementation of these systems successful; and types of applications that are being produced by users of the equipment. Durst’s Christopher Howard and Michael Lackner will lead the session.
• From Cottage to Mass to Micro: Micro Manufacturing for the New Economy: I.T. Strategies’ Patti Williams will give tips on niche markets and sustainable business models.
• Pricing of Digital Graphics: A full print overview, including speeds, costs, inks, media, laminates, substrates, and finishing, led by David King of MarketKing; the session will also examine sales and marketing side to help print shops land more clients.

• The Challenge of a Complete Digital Workflow: Inca
Digital’s Heather Kendle will provide an overview of the system components a print provider should consider when installing digital-graphic capabilities.
• Introduction to Color Management: Je Burton, digital print analyst for SGIA, will discuss color-management systems and software use, color profi ling basics, color space/ gamut, RGB versus CMYK, color-behavior management, color matching, and common color lingo.
• Recycling 101: Brett Thompson with Laird Plastics and Theresa Vanna of Pace Industries will discuss successfully implementing a recycling program.
• Neutral Gray Color Control for Screen and Digital Printers: A look at the effectiveness and speed neutral gray print density brings to digital printing and screenprinting, led by Nazdar’s Mike Ruff.
 

Also, the keynote breakfast will be held on Thursday, October 8, from 8:30-10 a.m. in the convention center’s La Nouvelle Orleans Ballroom. Keynote speaker Marc Miller, CEO of Sogostics and author of Selling is Dead and A Seat at the Table, will present “Driving Revenue with New Selling Strategies,” which examines the skills, strategies, mindset, and steps required for successful sales.

Exploring and networking
From 2007 through 2008, manufacturers/suppliers, print shops, and installers “adopted” New Orleans’ Canal Street and worked with SGIA to beautify the corridor from the Convention Center to the French Quarter. Whileyou’re in town for the expo, you can see the results of this volunteer project, designed to heighten the street’s visual impact by providing and installing large-format graphics featuring scenes of the city.
 

SGIA reports that print-provider participants included: Alabama Graphics (Birmingham, Alabama), Gillespie Graphics (Wilsonville, Oregon), Markley Enterprise (Elkhart, Indiana), Miller-Zell (Atlanta), New Vista Image (Golden, Colorado), Pixus Digital Printing (Lafayette, Louisiana), Selecto-Flash (West Orange, New Jersey), Stella Color (Seattle), and Vista Color Imaging (Cleveland). Vendor participants included: 3M Graphics Market Center, Alcan Composites, FlexCon, Gerber Scientific Products, MacDermid ColorSpan and Nur America (both now part of HP), and Ultrafl ex Systems.
 

There are plenty of networking opportunities at the expo as well. You can kick off the expo on Tuesday, October 6, with some golf on the Gulf. The Stonebridge Golf Club will host the John M. Crawford Golf Tournament at 8 a.m., including a caddy shack party at the conclusion of the round. Cost: $140 for SGIA members, $160 for non-members.
 

And what’s New Orleans without some partying? Thursday, October 8, from 6:30-10 p.m., is the Crescent City Cocktails and Connections soiree. A $35 ticket gets you into the Napoleon/Versailles Ballroom in the Hilton New Orleans Riverside for drinks and dinner, not to mention a night of networking.
 

Shaking off the doldrums
Still debating whether you want to make the trip? Consider
these comments by SGIA’s Michael Robertson, which
should serve as incentive:
“It’s time to shake off those recession doldrums and focus on the growing business opportunities in the imaging marketplace. The specialty-graphics community has more going for it than any other printer sector. Margins are certainly tighter since the recession hit, but specialty-graphics producers have avoided the commoditization trap mainly because of emerging technology.
 

“The continual fl ow of new and exciting capabilities has helped [print providers] increase their value to customers instead of needing to compete on price alone. And while the recession has slowed equipment sales, manufacturers have not slowed down R&D efforts. We’ll see lots of new technology at the 2009 SGIA Expo.”

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