Future Vision: See It Here and Now…

D.J. Burgess, Chair-man of the Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC) and NPES, the Association for Suppliers of Printing, Publishing and Converting Technologies, attended his first GRAPH EXPO show in 1979. That was three years before NPES joined with the NAPL and Printing Industries of America to form the Graphic Arts Show Company to manage and run the show, literally. Burgess also is President/CEO of Burgess Industries, Inc., serving the print communications market worldwide in innovative hardware and software automation management and handling technology. Digital CTP Imaging and high-speed sheet-fed and web press technology inspired Burgess to pioneer patented, award-winning, plate management and handling automation for “lights-out” fully integrated manufacturing. For more than three decades, he has guided his company through multiple markets impacted by the analog-to-digital technology revolution.

Show Daily: Here in Chicago 31 years ago, did you ever envision a highly automated, lights-out printing plant like the one your organazation helped Cox/Valpak build down in Florida a few years ago?

D.J. Burgess: Yes, to the extent that innovation through process automation, has been our driving force behind Burgess’ success. Even then, change was becoming the only constant in the business world. My father started the company manufacturing his patented Microfilm imaging device, which enhanced image register while eliminating the need for vacuum contact during imaging. Eventually, digital storage replaced film – much like the filmless CtP [computer-to-plate] revolution in printing. But it has always been about creating technology for automating a process and helping customers to work smarter and faster – and in managing content; that hasn’t changed.

Show Daily: What have the past 11 months been like at the helm of GASC, and NPES leading its 400-plus member companies on the path toward the future?

D.J. Burgess: Challenging, exciting; truly an honor to serve these two outstanding organizations and the industry during these times of change! I’ve had mixed emotions this past year, during the most historic time economically in the print communications business. It’s tough to watch the struggles and challenges brought on – and the companies which have been hit hard. On the other hand, as printing evolves with higher forms of communication, there’s tremendous opportunity and evolving technologies that allow our member companies and their customers to better compete globally and transform their businesses to respond to the new opportunities of integrated multimedia manufacturing, higher levels of automation, content management and the need for creative fullfilment services. 

Show Daily: Changing can be difficult. What is your advice to firms in the midst of this ‘communication evolution,’ as you’ve called it?

D.J. Burgess: This show is a great opportunity for people to walk the floor and imagine a path to the future. With some 500 exhibitors, the features and benefits of today’s innovations and evolving technologies are right before your eyes, with demonstrations of proven and real ROI—process integration, software, workflow solutions, automation and digital technologies.  I advise show-goers to not only focus on their immediate needs, but also to step back and see the path of evolution and revolution, in some cases, of what future technology will look like. Two years ago, digital web presses were the ‘buzz,’ and people came to see ‘what-if’ they could do.  Now, there are installations and you can meet peer printers face to face and talk to them about what they’re doing with the technology, and how they’re applying it.  More importantly, how they are evolving into a multimedia manufacturing business.  This is one of the primary reasons why all businesses in our industry needs trade shows like GRAPH EXPO, to stay connected during these times of great change.

Show Daily: So, look into your crystal ball for us D.J., what do you see?

D.J. Burgess: I see choices with tremendous opportunity!  The Printing Industry has led the world in pioneering, cutting edge technology for people and business to communicate, touch and feel something that inspires progress and change for the better.  Going forward, in the short term, I see the Internet playing an ever-expanding role as newer technology, such as social media, fits into the mix of changing communication and content delivery.  At GASC and NPES, we’re committed to helping the industry see what the future will bring. We’ve established a strategic planning process with the intent to project the printing industry five to seven years out.  And we’re consulting with an outside third party to guide us and help to build that profile.