Chicago Welcomes “Qualified” Traffic Jam!

By Mark Vruno


So, how has GRAPH EXPO performed so far? “We rate our interactions on a scale of one to five, with five being the highest, and we’ve had a record number of fives at this show,” praises Tawnya Starr, president of web-to-print provider PrinterPresence (Booth 4459), which has been exhibiting at GRAPH EXPO for 10 years. “We’ve also run out of marketing materials,” Starr reported on Tuesday, “and we brought the same amount as for last year’s PRINT 09, which was a seven-day show.”

Starr says her team knew coming in that the people at this show were going to be serious. “There’s a higher level of attendee here,” she adds, “and more business owners. I wish these decision-makers would come to every tradeshow.”

Other exhibitors have similarly positive reactions. “We’ve seen better attendance than what we anticipated,” says Vince Lapinski, manroland CEO. “The market has been tough and business has been tough, but people are still investing. I think the strong printers are certainly investing.” In booth 858, attendees are particularly interested in learning about the press manufacturer’s DirectDrive technology and fast makeready multitasking machine, in addition to “talking about where the web market is going in terms of the future and really understanding what our digital plans are,” Lapinski adds.

“Our traffic has been unbelievable,” exclaims Eric Gutwillig, Marketing VP at Prisco (Printers’ Service) in Booth 417. His firm already has sold six systems off the show floor. “We haven’t been able to sit, and 90 percent of our booth visitors have been interested in our digital offerings,” Gutwillig notes, adding that Priscso is the exclusive distributor for high-end HP/Scitex wide- and superwide format printers.

Attendees and industry observers seem impressed, too. The EFI exhibit was crowded Tuesday morning; nine prospects sat at three workstations for in-depth, 30-minute demos on Pace MIS business management software. Steve Yelk and Terry Wood were there looking at workflow tools for their in-plant shop at Schneider National, the trucking company. “We need to track all our jobs and costs,” says Yelk, adding that his shop installed a Kodak DigiMaster monochrome printer just last week.


No reruns here

“I’m surprised,” admits prepress consultant Hal Hinderliter, “because I really expected IPEX reruns. But there’s a lot of new technology here.” Technology Watch newsletter editor Henry Freedman is high on Kodak’s PROSPER 5000XL inkjet web press, encouraging people to go look at the printed samples if they haven’t done so yet. “It runs at 3,600 digital ppm —all variable. That’s 7 billion droplets per second,” Freedman explains. “The physics is amazing. You can’t do that with drop-on-demand [DOD] inkjet. You’d have to have many, many heads.”

Freedman also likes Screen’s fast, new technology. “We’re seeing a tremendous amount of interest around our new Truepress Jet520ZZ,” reports Bill Brunone, VP of Targeted Inkjet Systems at Screen USA. “People are impressed with its simplicity and overall ease of use, along with its low power draw—and it’s speed.”

“It has been an exceptional show for us,” says Joe Manos, Executive VP & Alliances of MindFireInc., a cross-media marketing software provider. “But we have an advantage: as a cross-media marketing solution for the industry, we sent text messages and mobile marketing messages to our prospects and current customers ahead of time, to tell them to stop by and meet with us at GRAPH EXPO. We practice what we preach, and it paid off. We will have generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in new revenue from the show, which for a software company is really good.”

Manos’s message to printers and suppliers: “Good marketing doesn’t cost more, it costs less because you actually achieve your revenue results.”


Crowd-pleasing solutions

At the Xerox booth, Tracy Yelencsics is “very pleased with the level of traffic we’ve seen,” says the VP of Segment and Program Marketing. “People have been four to five deep to see our iGen4 EXP and color 1000 presses in action. We’re very encouraged,” she adds.

Presstek’s Brian Wolfenden concurs. “Traffic was very solid for the first two days,” notes Wolfenden, Director of Marketing Communications. “Our new 75DI model has generated great interest from printers of all sizes – even those we didn’t necessarily expect to see, like packaging printers. Having a prime [booth] location up front helps.”

Scott Ginnett, Ricoh Manager of Field & Segment Marketing, was too busy making money on Tuesday to speak with Show Daily reporters on short notice, but Pitney Bowes chimed in.“We’ve had solid interest from printers looking for new revenue streams in the mailing space,” says Tim Troast, Director of Core Product Marketing for PB’s U.S. Mailing Division. “Our conversations have been in-depth: 15 to 20 minutes in length.”

“Traffic was really good on Monday,” adds Jack Ross, PB’s Tradeshow Manager, who said the firm’s Document Messaging Technologies business reported several on-site sales to large, enterprise transactional printers; details are forthcoming.

“Personally, I think tradeshows are a good thing,” says Presstek’s Wolfenden. “They’re a lot of work and expense, yes, but if attendees come they’re a great opportunity.” Lapinski of manroland stresses, “You have to stay current with technology if you want to survive this business.”

Mark your calendars now for GRAPH EXPO 2011, September 11-14, and watch online next month for the GRAPH EXPO 2010: Post-Show Virtual Wrap on Nov., 10 at


Karen Hall, Michelle EauClaire and Joann Whitcher contributed to
this report.