The reasons for all the time and energy put into redeveloping the focus of the conference are fairly clear. Due to cost concerns, there has been a decline in attendance at practically all industry functions, and NPIRI has not been immune to these decreases. There has been a legitimate concern that attendees need to receive value from these conferences, or they simply will stay home.
With that in mind, NPIRI and NAPIM have come up with a variety of important changes during the past few years. First, NPIRI worked to filter out the heavily commercialized presentations of the past. In 1998, NPIRI added the poster board sessions, which allowed companies to exhibit works in progress. In 1999, NPIRI began inviting NAPIM’s Ault Award winner to offer insights at the awards dinner. In 2000, the short courses prior to the opening session began, which allowed attendees to spend a morning focusing on critical issues. In 2001, the closing session featured press, prepress and proofing company representatives who provided insights into the changing world of printing, and major consumer print buyers were on hand to discuss what they look for from their printers.
This year, NPIRI’s Technical Conference was held in Marco Island, FL, and in many ways, it benefited from these changes. Even in a sluggish economy, attendance was up for the first time in a few years, which may indicate that the changes have taken hold.
The short courses on Six Sigma and energy curing equipment and consumables were well attended and informative. The opening session featured a keynote talk – a new feature for this year – by Dr. Ronnie Davis, chief economist of the Printing Industries of America (PIA), who discussed the present and future of the printing industry. The concurrent sessions on paste and liquid inks were of interest. The poster board session was the highlight for many; the research that was done was excellent, and much of the information that was offered was, quite honestly, thought-provoking. Ault Award winner Cal Sutphin’s talk about caring was also a highlight.
There is still work to be done. Still, the improvements are evident. Conference chair Robert Peters of Kohl & Madden and co-chair Diane Parisi of Flint Ink, along with NAPIM, the moderators and NPIRI committee members, put together an excellent conference, and they deserve congratulations for their efforts.