On December 3, 2012 the National Print Owners Association (NPOA) was officially formed as a corporation in the state of Florida. John Stewart, owner of Paragon Printing in Melbourne, FL, and former Quick Printing columnist was listed as the corporation president.
In just about six weeks, the fledgling association has done some rapid growing up. Jace Prejean, owner of Bayou Printing & Graphics in Houma, LA, is now NPOA president and Stewart has been named executive director. The groups first board of directors also includes Barry Martin of Copyquik in Hagerstown, MD, as vice president; Dennis Trump of Trump Direct in Decatur, IL, as secretary; John Henry of Mitchell's Printing & Mailing in Oswego, NY, as treasurer; and Brian O'Day of ePrint in Portland, OR, as communications director.
What started out as an informal group of business colleagues who frequented the popular PrintOwners listserv, grew quickly once the formal association was established. In less than a month, there were 120 paid members. Current membership reportedly numbers approximately 140 company owners.
“NPOA offers a viable alternative to those printers who are currently members of other trade associations, but are dissatisfied with the return on their investment,” says Stewart. “This new association also seeks to attract many other printers who have chosen not to join any association because none have appeared, so far, to satisfy their needs.”
The association’s website tells us that NPOA “is dedicated to delivering products and services that enhance the growth and profitability of its members through advocacy, educational programs, publications, research, and the sharing of technical information.”
Its ability to deliver on that promise will be put to its first test April 18-21 when the group holds its inaugural conference in New Orleans. The keynote speaker will be FASTSIGNS International CEO Catherine Monson. Fresh from her popular appearance on CBS's "Undercover Boss", Monson will present the case for adding wide-format capablilties to a company's repertoire. In addition to explaining the benefits and challenges to be considered, Monson will, no doubt, also introduce association members to her company's new program that makes it possible for independent print owners to add a FASTSIGNS franchise to their existing business.
Other speakers and the educational slate for the conference will be announced as they are confirmed. For now, the website tells visitors: "Financial Benchmarking, effectively using social media tools, the latest in digital copying technology, as well as how to increase profits and sales by adding mailing services, sign making and large-format are just a few of the topics that are on the drawing board."
I asked a variety of industry leaders for their reactions to the formation of NPOA. The responses below include industry pundits, franchise heads, printers, and leaders of competing associations. I will let them speak for themselves. Some of these quotes can also be found on the NPOA website.
Kevin Keane, former NAQP board member and former franchise president
There seems to be some hand-wringing that we have too many associations in the graphic arts, and maybe we do. But in my legal pursuits I see quite the opposite in other industries—one of my business opportunities involves insurance—the number of associations serving independent insurance agents is mind numbing.
My legal passion is estate planning, wills, and trusts to help families face the inevitable. That passion is a niche market and there are niche groups—some are associations and many are not—that do a fabulous job for me and my specialized interest.
That may be key to the NPOA. I was in a booth at Graph Expo chatting with two women leaders of the PIA. I commented that most smaller printers couldn’t care less about the lobbying efforts for postal reform, as an example. Que sera sera, is their sensibility. My talented conversation partners demurred and said the printer in Minnesota may not care, but the closer you get to Washington, DC, the printers care a lot. Point taken, but it also shows the gulf of difference in needs and wants.