Archive for October, 2004

  • Clancy . . . overflow . . . the best bits . . . funnies

    There they were introduced to George, a mighty tusker, who is a well-known identity. Accompanied by a rifle-toting guide the intrepid six strolled out to view George in his natural habitat, but obviously caught him on a bad trunk day.
    The story goes that George began flapping his ears in that mightily unpleasant way short-tempered elephants have, rolled back his trunk to show off his tusks and started toward them. Only then did they become aware that their choice of retreat had come down to (a) crossing a hippo-infested river, or (b) scrambling over a rocky escarpment. They went for the rocks while the guide covered their retreat with the large calibre elephant gun.

    They managed to get out all right, but just wait until the next industry function and hear how wild elephant stories can grow.

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    The relaunch of the Heidelberg News is good news for all those who remember the industry standard publication. It is all part of the company’s seeming getting back to basics strategy. The first edition of Heidelberg News appeared in 1930 and according to Bernhard Schreier the company wants the magazine to remain true to its traditional brief of providing readers with “suggestions and advice for progressive printers.”
    If you want to get on the mailing list, email Heidelberg.News@heidelberg.com

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    It’s a sad fact of business life that when one door closes, another usually follows. Agfa is to close a former Lastra plate plant in Jacksonville, Texas, with the cost of 200 jobs. It will consolidate US production at its Branchburg, New Jersey facility. The company says it is going to help the workers find new jobs in Jacksonville.
    Makes sense – can’t see anyone trading Texas for New Jersey.

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    This should be good news for the organisers of next year’s PacPrint – the recent Graph Expo in Chicago has reversed the trend of declining size and attendances at trade shows. According to organisers this month’s show was the largest since Print 01. In exhibit size, this year’s show was 12 percent larger than in 2003. Attendance totalled nearly 40,000, also an increase from 2003.

    If Chicago can do it, so can we in Melbourne.

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    The digital ties that bind. The Xplor conference is on presently in Dallas Texas. This year the organisers presented a founder’s award to Xerox for being . . . well the founder of the Xplor organization 25 years ago. Since then Xplor, a worldwide, not-for-profit association for document professionals has managed to carve out a fairly independent identity for itself. This year its origins are being celebrated, although it’s hard to see the founder’s award becoming an annual event.

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    And finally . . . its’ all Astrid’s fault. She has unleashed the monster without and suddenly everyone has blonde joke. Here’s one from Paul Guilfoyle of the Uni of NSW.

    There are three blondes stranded on an island. Suddenly a fairy appears and offers to grant each one of them one wish.

    The first blonde asks to be intelligent. Instantly, she is turned into a brown-haired woman and she swims off the island.

    The next one asks to be even more intelligent than the previous one, so instantly she is turned into a black-haired woman. The black-haired woman builds a boat and sails off the island.

    The third blonde asks to become even more intelligent than the previous two. The fairy turns her into a man, and he walks across the bridge.

  • Job of the Week, Senior Graphics Prepress Operator, Pacific Publications, Sydney

    Pacific Publications, the second largest magazine publisher in Australia, is currently seeking a Graphics Prepress Operator with a minimum of 5 years experience.

    You are a highly experienced operator who works with Macs an are skilled in Illustrator, Quark, Photoshop and InDesign.

    You will have extensive experience in colour correction and high end retouching.

    Basic working knowledge of digital proofing would be regarded as an advantage, as would a solid working knowledge of ICC based colour management, including workflow integration.

    You must be able to multi task, work under pressure and to a deadline, have great people skills and an ability to build strong relationships, take direction and work alongside a dedicated team.
     
    If you think you have what it takes to succeed in this role, please send your resume and a covering letter to:
     
    Fraser Crozier
    Prepress & Technical Development Manager
    Pacific Publications
    35-51 Mitchell Street, McMahons Point NSW 2060

     
    Please email resumes to
    fraser.crozier@pacpubs.com.au

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    To view more printing and graphic arts career positions click here for JobsOnline21: www.bluelinemedia.com.au/index.cfm?pageid=jobs01

  • Book Club – (PIRA)

    A comprehensive industry reference book for all those who produce, specify and buy printed products, its 500 plus pages are complemented by a complete CD version that contains Pass4Press PDF instructions, British Trade Protocols and SPC Sheet templates.

    Lavishly illustrated throughout with an excellent glossary of industry terms, the 9th edition has new sections on digital prepress and digital print technologies, plus practical tables to help you choose the right process for a particular job.
    Now covering all commercial print applications, including packaging, transactional, brochures and publishing it will rapidly become your most referred to work. Written in clear no-jargon terms by Dr Sean Smyth, PIRA International’s senior print consultant The Print and Production Manual – 9th edition is the definitive reference work for the industry.

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    To buy The Print and Production Manual – 9th edition and to browse the Print21Online Graphic Arts Library click here:www.bluelinemedia.com.au/index.cfm?pageid=shop&productType=1

  • IBM puts hardware and software vendors together in open colour initiative

    Hardware vendors Kodak, Lexmark, and Océ, and software application developers, COPI, DocuCorp International, Elixir Technologies, Exstream Software, GMC Software Technology, MPI, ISIS Papyrus, Printsoft and Metavante have all signed on to the initiative, which seeks to present itself as the premier variable data digital colour platform.

    The open initiative will define the colour management architecture needed to enable businesses to develop comprehensive, device-dependent, colour applications, resources, and workflows that can be printed initially with high-quality gray scales and, eventually, with colour. The organization will address the full spectrum of technical specifications associated with printing in colour, taking the industry to a higher level in high volume variable data and transition printing.

    “Success for a client doesn’t rest with the printer itself, but with the client’s ability to address a business need,” said Jeff Paterra, vice president of development and professional services, IBM Printing Systems. “The AFP Colour Consortium brings together both AFP application providers and major AFP printer manufacturers to make AFP the premier presentation platform for variable data colour production print. IBM Printing Systems’ open approach to defining this architecture in AFP will enable customers to evolve to a mixed environment of colour and monochrome printing under a single architecture and data stream.”

    Colour management capabilities are critical in delivering and managing effective colour implementations that process full colour, as well as printing to grayscale on monochrome printers. The AFP Colour Consortium is taking steps to extend the AFP architecture to guarantee a smooth convergence of production monochrome printing to production colour. As a part of this effort, three key objectives will be addressed:

    • Enable colour AFP application and resource development independent of print engine
    • Develop an architecture that allows applications to exploit the maximum printer capabilities
    • Finalize a formal extension to the AFP architecture from which all application providers and printer manufacturers can benefit.

    AFP is both a software architecture – implemented in the device-independent AFP data stream and a hardware architecture – implemented in the device-dependent IPDS data stream. It is designed for system-managed printing – managing all print processes so that every spooled file prints completely and accurately, every time. It’s implemented in software and hardware products – from IBM and other vendors – that take advantage of its benefits.

  • Sappi Awards to judge ‘like against like’ in revamped worldwide print competition

    The final sole Sappi International Printer of the Year, was awarded last weekend at a spectacular ceremony in Cape Town, to US firm, Anderson Lithograph. It closes a chapter in the history of the prestigious international competition and opens a new era that will see Australian and New Zealand printers able to compete in their own areas of specialisation – annual reports; books; brochures; calendars; catalogues; general print; magazines; packaging and labels;’ and printer’ own promotion.

    “It’s the type of competition where we might have won in our magazine category,“ said Michael Kinnemont of Offset Alpine, the only local printer to make it through to the world titles, (pictured centre with Jonathan Leslie, CEO Sappi, on left, and High Martin, managing director, Sappi Trading). “It only makes sense to compare apples with apples.” Offset Alpine was represented with its magazine production of Australian Geographic.

    This viewpoint was reinforced by Greg Grace, LIA Fellow and Sappi Award judge who was termed the “driving force for change.” He said he was delighted to see the awards broaden their appeal. “The Sappi Printer of the Year Awards are truly the best of the best and it is important that entrants are judged in their appropriate category. To win a Sappi trophy you have to be the best in the world,” he said.

    It is this reputation that has fuelled the intense competition over the past four years since the Sappi Print of the Year awards went truly international. Past winners relate the impact such recognition gives to their business and even the regional gold award winners – from Sappi Trading (which includes those regions where the company has no paper mills i.e. Australia and New Zealand, Asia, Central America, and South America), North America, Europe and Africa – get potentially lucrative publicity, valuable connections, and high industry profile.

    However there was always the difficulty of trying to compare such diverse examples of printing as cigar boxes and labels with glossy magazines, promotional pieces with high-end catalogues. While the competition is always intense it is inevitable that the more stylish products are likely to be the favourites. This year’s Sappi Printer of the Year award went to a stunning brochure for a Cadillac XLR, beating out the other regional winners; an art book ’88 Husains in Oils from Pragati Offset India; another brochure, All the world’s a stage from last year’s winner, Fontegraphica of Italy; and a calendar The Big 5 from South African printer, Ultra Litho.

    The new format was launched by André Oberholzer, corporate affairs, who also announced that next year’s glittering award ceremony will be held in Shanghai. “In addition to growing the competition to become the only global one of its kind in the industry, we continually assess the way in which print excellence is appreciated, especially in regards to the expectations of the final end users of our products,” he said.

    According to Tim Schafer, managing director, Sappi Trading Australia, the new format is certain to increase participation on a local level.

    “It makes it a level playing field where people are competing against those they should be measured against. “ he said. He is encouraging printers to contact their paper merchants for details of how to enter. The only stipulation is that the entry must be printed on Sappi stock.

    The Sappi Printer of the Year Awards is always a swell affair and this year’s event at Cape Town was no exception. Enjoying the country’s and the company’s hospitality are (left to right) Ken and Christine Doggett; Michael and Kym Kinnimont; and Bev and Tim Shafer.

  • National Print Awards call for action – ‘get your entries in!’

    “Don’t leave it until the Christmas rush when you may not have time to put that little extra effort into making sure your entry represents the best your company is capable of producing,” said Carrigan. “Make your selection process carefully – and make it before you get tied up with the rush in your business.”

    All gold-medal and sponsored awards winners in the 31 Award categories will be announced at a gala presentation ceremony to be held in Melbourne on May 25 – during PacPrint.

    Sponsored awards will include The Australian Paper Award, presented for print excellence achieved by a 3rd or 4th year printing machinist apprentice; the Agfa-Gevaert Award for the most innovative use of imaging in printing, and the Heidelberg Australia Award for excellence in craft. Representatives from Agfa and Heidelberg will make their selections from all appropriate entries.

    In an industry first, the presentation will take place at the Palladium Room at the Crown Casino on May 25, during PacPrint week – May 24-29.

    All medallists will be displayed at the PacPrint ’05 venue – the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre by the Yarra -– for the duration of the exhibition, so that winners can draw an optimum audience to their work at Australasia’s most prestigious printing and graphic arts show.

    As well as that, all medal winners will be featured in the Awards Book, a premium-quality record of each year’s winners – and on the National Print Awards website at www.nationalprintawards.com.au

    Entries are invited from any person or company associated with the creation, buying, production, reproduction, supply of materials or the actual printing in Australia of any item specified in the listed categories. A PDF version of entry forms can be downloaded.

    Globally recognised and endorsed by the Printing Industries Association of Australia, the National Print Awards will now have the opportunity to make an even bigger impact on the industry.

    After negotiations between the boards of PacPrint and the National Print Awards earlier this year, the Awards, though they remain a separate enterprise in their own right, will now be a highlight of PacPrint week.

    Bouyed by the positive response

    Alf Carrigan says he was buoyed by the industry’s early and positive embrace of the idea of staging the Awards during PacPrint and by indications of a significant rise in attendance for the Awards dinner.

    “What the industry will see is a convergence of the two biggest red-letter events on the Australasian printing industry’s calendar,” he said, whose stewardship of the National Print Awards has transformed the event over the past three years.

    In a joint statement, Carrigan and PacPrint chairman Ron Patterson said: “We are collectively very excited about the inclusion of this important event for the industry in the PacPrint calendar.”

    Held at Sydney’s Exhibition and Convention Centre at Darling Harbour last year, the Awards’ return to Melbourne for 2005 will give visitors to PacPrint a chance to see the industry’s finest work, even as they spend the week viewing the latest technology used to produce that work.

    In a further sign of industry unity, the National Print Awards committee this year includes an unprecedented level of representation from the Printing Industries Association of Australia.

    The National Print Awards committee comprises Alf Carrigan (chairman), Scott Telfer (deputy chairman/Printing Industries NSW president and NSW national councillor), Peter Barker (secretary/Printing Industries Victorian national councillor), Graham Luke (treasurer), Chris Segaert (national president, Printing Industries/NSW national councillor), Adam Todd (Printing Industries NSW), Mark Barrot (Printing Industries Victoria) and Ray Gillies (Printing Industries Victoria).

  • New accounting rules make masthead valuation “a nonsense.”

    Under the new standards mastheads of publications created inside the company are noted in the balance sheet to be worth nothing, while those bought from outside must remain on the books at original cost. In a wide-ranging address to shareholders, Fairfax said Rural Press had its titles valued two years ago by independent valuers who agreed with the then current values in the financial statements.

    “The new international standards say it is not possible to reliably value assets such as newspaper mastheads and that we must reverse the revaluations we have adopted. Our balance sheet will have to report that a masthead such as The Land [the largest selling agricultural newspaper] has no value. A nonsense in my view,” he said.

    He emphasized the notation was a quirk arising from the new accounting standards and does not represent any underlying decline in the value of the company’s assets. “We say our mastheads are today worth a lot more than we paid for them. The write down will be a book entry only and we are not anticipating any impact on the company’s future profits, cash flows or dividends as a result.”

    Rural Press posted a 27.3 per cent lift in net profit after tax to a record $87.1 million, driven by the company’s core Australian publishing and printing operations. A buoyant real estate market, healthy local and classified advertising and increased circulation in a majority of Rural’s paid publications underscored the increase revenues.

    Fairfax identified the company’s ability to offer full colour to advertisers and readers as a key element in the success and vowed to continue the extensive programme of press upgrades. “The ongoing expansion of our press facilities is vital to our continuing success. During the year, a number of press projects were completed, including the new printing plant at Wendouree, Ballarat, and we implemented press capacity upgrades at Ormiston, Queensland, and Dubbo, New South Wales. Computer to plate technology at Wendouree enhanced our production efficiencies.

    “The pace of press investment is proceeding unabated in the current year with further press upgrade commitments for Ballarat, only a year after the original press was commissioned. Press upgrades are also taking place here at North Richmond, in Canberra and Port Macquarie, New South Wales.

    “We are establishing a greenfield printing site at Mandurah in Western Australia. Our anticipated capital investment of $60 million this year includes $50 million for those printing projects together with approximately $10 million on technology maintenance in the group. This ongoing investment in technology is vital to satisfy effectively the needs of our internal and external publishing customers.”

    The company’s New Zealand agricultural publications maintained previous profit levels in a more cautious agricultural market, impacted by the increased value of the New Zealand dollar.

    Fairfax reported that the integration of Harris and Company in Tasmania, publisher of The Advocate, Burnie and several smaller circulating free publications in North West Tasmania and scene of a bitter takeover battle in which Rural gained 85.3 per cent of the company, was going according to plan. The purchase included a modern MAN Uniset Printing press, an automated publishing room and computer to plate technology, as well as a sheet fed printing business.

    “Since January 2004, with new management focus, we have recorded improved advertising revenues and have expanded circulation of The Advocate. We anticipate that in 2004/2005 Harris & Co. will post a solid contribution in its first full year within the Rural Press stable,” he said.

    “Our emphasis on localism has ensured that The Advocate now strives even further to serve the community by producing quality information and entertainment, as does every other individual newspaper in the Rural Press group. The spare print capacity on the Harris and Company press is being utilised by transferring to it a number of external client contracts, thereby releasing capacity in other Rural Press plants on the mainland.”

  • Landmark Australian study to scope printing industry

    Printing Industries Association of Australia (Printing Industries) has commissioned consulting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu (Deloitte) to undertake the project to examine the paper and printing industry by sector (commercial printing, security printing, instant printing, etc.), by major product category (book printing, magazine printing, newspaper printing, label printing, general printing, etc.) and by process (web printing, sheetfed printing, screen printing, digital printing).

    The study is being sponsored by Swanbank Paper, the fine paper mill on the drawing board for Queensland.

    Printing Industries CEO, Gary Donnison, (pictured) said the study was the first to profile the entire paper and printing industry value chain. The Print21 Action Agenda had identified the need for a comprehensive industry study as a major industry priority.

    “It will examine products produced, print processes, emerging trends and major industry issues as well as making projections for the future,” he said. “This project will provide the information necessary for companies to make critical business development decisions. The findings will act as a key sustainability driver for the industry.

    “We are very grateful for the support of Swanbank Paper to help us to undertake this study on behalf of the industry,” he said. “The information will provide new market intelligence for the industry and be a very important tool for Printing Industries to fulfill its lobbying and industry development objectives.

    Swanbank Paper CEO, Joe Foster, said the company was pleased to sponsor the industry study of paper and printing in Australia.

    “The industry has long needed a comprehensive survey and we are confident that this study will be valuable to industry participants and other interested parties,” he said.

    The study will examine industry growth for the past five years and projected growth for the next five, focusing on turnover, gross product, employment and numbers of establishments.

    It will identify market segmentation and size in products including books (uncoated and coated), magazines, catalogues and inserts, newspapers, labels and pressure sensitive adhesives, greeting cards, calendars and diaries, stationery, directories and copy paper (office versus digital).

    Process demographics such as web printing (both narrow web and wide web), sheet-fed printing, screen printing and digital printing will be documented.

    Technology impacts on the industry will be assessed for industry sectors and projections made on anticipated impacts.

    Current and future profit and capital expenditure trends will be examined. Trends in paper consumption by types of paper, grade, and grammage and production process will be surveyed as well as ink consumption.

    The study will also look at import and export trends, the impact of digital and electronic media and the Internet and current and future environmental pressures. The paper supply chain will be analysed and future trends identified.

    The research project is expected to take about two-three months to complete. Researchers will be contacting companies immediately to schedule face-to-face interviews beginning in early November. The research findings are scheduled to be released early in 2005.

  • Queensland Minister Tony McGrady launches IPG Digital

    The first in a series of high profile HP Indigo press launches scheduled throughout the country over the next month will give Queensland’s latest digital printer a head start over the competition. According to Rod McCall, IPG Print managing director, (pictured on left with Tony McGrady, Minister for State Development) the opening of the new IPG Digital premises across the road from head office in Kedron, represents a significant investment and is an ongoing part of the manufacturing strategy of the group.

    “IPG Print has used state-of-the-art equipment for some time. Our design, prepress and press departments are fully integrated and digitally networked using the latest in PDF workflow, computer-to-plate and CIP3 technologies. Adding to this technology, digital print offers capabilities that were either not affordable, or not possible in traditional press environments such as variable data customised printing, offset quality colour in affordable short run lengths, zero wastage, and full electronic management of data,” says McCall.

    Queensland Minister Tony McGrady launched the new division on Tuesday. IPG Print has been the recipient of a State Development grant to upgrade its e-commerce and online print management System. McCall maintains the move is in response to changing market conditions.

    “Industry research indicates that print runs in general are falling,” McCall says. “High quality, full colour, shorter print runs with the ability to vary data are becoming more sought after. Organisations are seeking to maximise their marketing dollar with targeted direct mail campaigns and minimise their print spend with short run up-to-date materials printed on demand. This print management approach eliminates the need for bulk storage costs and wastage when material becomes outdated,” he said.

    Formed in 1997 as Interforms Printing Group, IPG Print is recognised as a Queensland leader in providing print solutions – from concept to production.

    According to Phillip Rennell, manager Colour Images, the Currie Group’s digital printing arm, (pictured) the decision of IPG Print to opt for the HP Indigo solution is typical of experienced print producers making the shift to digital. “Over the next few weeks we have presses going in to some of the largest and highest profile printing companies in the country. When industry professionals who really know their print compare digital printing presses, they invariably choose the HP Indigo,” he said.

    “For them it comes down to image quality, and the ability to print on the widest range of substrates. In the areas that matter nothing touches the HP Indigo. Ask any printer.”

  • The Kiwis are coming – news commentary by Andy McCourt

    BlueStar buys Merritt Madden – Pacific Print Group buys Graphic World. New Zealand trains its big guns on the Australian printing industry and suggests there is plenty of ammunition still to fire.

    Graphic World, the high profile Sydney-based company, was the first to fall when Pacific Print Group of Auckland acquired it, and its $25 million turnover, in a raid that took the local industry by surprise. Graphic World is a plum prize, a well-managed magazine printer with an impressive client list that includes Reed Business Publishing and the Ad industry’s weekly bible B&T.

    Pacific Print Group (PPG) is New Zealand’s second largest printing group after Blue Star and is majority owned by Geoff Wilding, (pictured).
    He told Print21online: “The purchase of Graphic World marks the start of our planned expansion into Australia. Although there are some risks associated with moving offshore, we have bought just about everything of size in New Zealand that meets our criteria of excellent financial performance – and is available at a fair price – and we were faced with a fundamental decision: do we lower our standards and keep growing in New Zealand? Or keep our standards up and look overseas for opportunities? Clearly we have chosen the latter and believe this is the right thing for our shareholders and existing businesses.”

    PPG’s other major shareholder is ANZ Private Equity.

    Pacific Print Group operates as a pure investment holding company with each subsidiary independently managed and financed. This is good news for Graphic World’s management and staff. The business acumen and access to capital that PPG brings is the killer ingredient that many single-site printers lack.

    According to Wilding, although there is some purchasing leverage with raw materials in a larger group, the main reason for PPG’s excellent performance is “almost entirely the result of the skill and passion of our management team.”

    Merritt Madden also falls to the Kiwis.

    The other major Australian printing acquisition by a New Zealand company is the Blue Star takeover of Merritt Madden Printing of Alexandria, Sydney. This one even hit the mainstream media as the NSW Labor Premier’s wife, Helena Carr is managing director and major stakeholder.

    The Sun Herald, NSW weekend newspaper, noted a sweet irony in that Merritt Madden’s client list includes the Liberal Party. Mrs Carr, formerly with Leigh Mardon, will assist with merging Merritt Madden into the Blue Star Group but is expected to move on amidst speculation that Bob Carr is considering quitting as NSW Premier and taking up a senior posting elsewhere. The couple recently bought a holiday home in New Zealand.

    Blue Star’s Australian assets already include Sydney’s Link Printing and Melbourne’s Craftsman Press, as well as Rapid Labels, Webstar, Kings Mailing Services PMC and Premedia concern Techniche, ad agency Dunham Bremmer and logistics firm Prolgix.

    Managing Director of Blue Star’s Australian operations, Noel Rogers told Print21online: “We recognised Merritt Madden’s suitability and fit into the Blue Star Group. The intellectual values, type and quality of work made it an ideal acquisition. There is much more potential in the printing industry and, although Blue Star is not aggressively pursuing further acquisitions, we will continue to consider quality opportunities if they arise.”

    Merritt Madden adds a very high quality and environmentally-sound printer to the stable. It also boosts Blue Star’s turnover from Australian sheetfed operations, which is already 20 per cent higher than New Zealand sheetfed sales. However, in its 2004 report, Blue Star’s revenue was $174.7 million in New Zealand and $163.9 million in Australia for a combined $338.6 mil. This includes Webstar, which alters the balance somewhat.

    On industry conditions generally, Rogers noted: “Both the New Zealand and Australian economies are buoyant and very similar and there is a common thread running between the two markets. We view Australian and New Zealand operations as two units of the same business. Last year saw an approximately 60 per cent jump in imports of LWC paper used in catalogues and magazines, so this gives an indication of the buoyancy of the market. The industry continues to be progressive and stimulating.”

    MY CALL

    Expect more of the same.
    Iconic NZ Prime Minister Robert Muldoon is reported to have said, ‘Every New Zealander that moves to Australia increases the average IQ of both countries.’

    Hubris aside, there are some very smart business people in Kiwiland. They are not slow to see an opportunity and take very businesslike approaches to expansion challenges. Carter Holt Harvey (CCH) pioneered this over a 100-year dynasty that resulted in the diversified forest-product company ratcheting up $3.8 billion in sales and attracting a 51% equity partner in US giant International Paper. CCH today, by their own admission is ‘more of an Australasian company.’

    Blue Star is a little different. It’s controlled by Tom Sturgess, an American ex-Vietnam veteran and Harvard MBA with a CPA who, since 1996 lives in Nelson, New Zealand. Sturgess’s fiscal credentials are highly impressive. He has increased equity value in every company he is listed as having been involved with. Even with his duties at Blue Star, he is also a director of Goldman Sachs-JB Were NZ and invests heavily in Kiwi rural properties. Presumably his Texan origins gave name to his cattle/sheep farm company ‘Lone Star’ which he actively farms.

    Tom Sturgess steered the sale of the printing side of Blue Star from its US office supply parent with a $165 million management buy-out in 2001 and now appears to be the supremo, although some bonds are traded on the NZSX.

    He appears to have embraced NZ life and, having invested so heavily there, is obviously committed to the land, leaving the day-to-day running of Blue Star to Managing Directors Keith Brodie in New Zealand and Noel Rogers in Australia.

    Pacific Print Group’s foray has all the appearances of being influenced by Blue Star’s success: Acquire quality printers with $5million plus turnovers, make a move across the Tasman, inject sound financial management and capital where needed and let each be run as an independent profit centre rather than a corporate behemoth. As Geoff Wilding notes: “Privately owned businesses often have ‘lazy’ balance sheets with too much money tied up in working capital, excessive investment in plant, and often inappropriate levels of debt. We therefore focus a great deal of attention on maximising the efficiency of our operating companies balance sheets.”

    What both companies have recognised is the value that exists in the Australian print marketplace. The NZ printing industry is estimated to be worth $1.4 billion annually. The Australian, in value-added, is estimated at $13.4 billion – ten times the opportunity. New Zealand began consolidating its industry long before Australia, which is still fairly fragmented, despite the past two to three years of mergers and acquisitions with the likes of Penfold Buscombe, McPherson’s, JS McMIllan, PMP, IPMG and others.

    Add to this drive some very good brains with venture capital, merchant banking, and turn-around experience and, well, Australia is a prime hunting ground.

    In fact, we could be viewed as a supermarket shopping shelf full of cut-price print asset bargains giving access to lucrative markets for savvy international investors. We also have a business-friendly government and a company tax rate three per cent below that of New Zealand – 30 per cent versus 33 per cent.

    Of course it can cut both ways; PMP has plants in Auckland and Christchurch but hey, look at the top and who do we find? CEO David Kirk, a former All-Black who has worked wonders on Australasia’s largest printing concern. PMP was on an ugly slide until he took over in February 2003. Kirk’s enterprise appears to have turned PMP around with a 13 per cent rise in profits and a 21 per cent rise in shareholder value in his first financial year, although debt remains a problem.

    So what to expect? More of the same. And it’s not just the Kiwis; Canadian Volker Wagner snapped up a swag of Sydney printers through his Teldon Print Media group earlier this year.

    If you are a medium-sized quality offset printer, especially with recent B1 presses and a good client list, you may well expect a call from someone wanting to buy your business, and he or she might have a Kiwi accent. Unless you decide to do the same and get on the consolidation bandwagon. But make sure you have a full line-up of MBAs and CPAs standing behind you!

  • Clancy. . . overflow . . . the best bits . . . funnies

    This year the home industries are represented by Offset Alpine for its production of Australian Geographic magazine, the sole gold medal winner in the regional titles. Although restricted to a single shot we’re looking good for the first-time ever Sappi Trading winners of the Golden Elephant trophy.

    Stay tuned

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    In this world of media grabs there is always the photo opportunity, an event whose entire significance is in providing a news image. A hardy staple of the print media it is included here . . . well, because the PacPrint PR people sent it. Ron Patterson, (left) chairman of the PacPrint 05 board went down to ‘Jeff’s Shed’ to seal the deal for next May’s mega graphic arts trade show with Frank Mohren, Operations Director, Melbourne Exhibition & Convention Centre.

    And here’s the photo to prove it.

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    The new advisory board of CIP4 (International Cooperation for the Integration of Processes in Prepress, Press and Postpress) will be focusing on extending JDF to cover broader areas of interoperability and providing improved education and communication for printers, prepress services, and other users.

    Tim Daisy for Networked Graphic Production partner (NGP), the Creo backed interoperability initiative was elected to the CIP4 board. NGP is now the stamping ground of Mark Wilton, erstwhile Creo Asia Pacific marketing manager, who since his move to Creo HQ in Vancouver a few months ago is now global marketing manager for NGP.

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    Tempus fugit – time marches on. The first Goss 32page Sunday 3000 web press went on display at last week’s GraphExpo in Chicago. Although it was badged with the familiar Goss logo, observers noted that it was still painted in the distinctive Heidelberg grey livery – for this was the first press to go public following the handover to Goss of Heidelberg’s web press division.

    Now that’s the end of an era.

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    Further to last week’s item concerning the XantŽ CTP device that has reportedly blistering fast speeds outputting metal plates. Industry sources point us in the direction of Grant Churchill of AE Hudson’s as likely Australian and New Zealand distributor. The word is it will probably cost less than $30,000 and produce 60 x A3+ plates per
    hour! Hudson’s already sell the XantŽ Platemaker 4 polyester machine.

    ________________________

    And finally . . . just a note on the resonance of names.

    While Clancy was enjoying the hospitality of the Printing Industries Association of New Zealand last week, he couldn’t help but notice the front page financial scandal on the NZ Herald. A bunch of individuals are charged with a $23 million insider trading scam concerning the national rail carrier. As these things go the main protagonist now lives in Switzerland.

    He says he will vigorously defend his name . . . which just happens to be the gloriously eponymous, David Richwhite.

    No joke.

  • Book Club — Estimating for Printers

    Commissioned by the Printing Industries Association of Australia and written by Neville Aldridge, this is the 3rd edition of the Estimating for Printers manual.

    Estimating for Printers has long been considered the industry standard, and widely regarded as the Printers bible.

    The manual has been completely re-written to bring the information in line with the present-day industry requirements. The advancements and changes in technology have brought about the need to completely upgrade some parts of the manual. However, the costing, planning and estimating principles have not been changed.

    This edition provides estimating standards for time and costs for both manual and electronic systems. The estimating topics covered extend from costing, paper and ink usage through to platemaking, binding and finishing and web and digital printing processes.

    Neville Aldridge has years of trade experience in the printing industry. In the past he has worked as a supervisor, printing ink technician, production manager, manager and small business proprietor.

    Neville also taught planning and estimating at Melbourne College of Printing and Graphic Arts and tutored the Victorian Off-campus Estimating for Printers course (RMIT) since its inception in 1984. He now operates his own training and consultancy business.

    –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

    To buy FOLD: The Professional Guide to Folding and to browse the Print21Online Graphic Arts Library click here:www.bluelinemedia.com.au/index.cfm?pageid=shop&productType=1

  • Creo digs in for proxy fight – News commentary by Andy McCourt

    Between them the Burton-Goodwood lobby control nearly six percent of Creo shares and can only succeed in ousting the founder directors by influencing more shareholders to vote no-confidence in CEO Amos Michelson and his board.

    Burton’s CEO Robert Burton has put himself forward as a potential CEO of Creo. He is a veteran of the printing industry and is credited with turning around business forms firm Moore inside two years and returning it to profitability.

    However, US analysts note that proxy fights rarely succeed. Creo has 21 days from the Burton-Goodwood’s filing to accept or reject, and then a long war of attrition could ensue. Locally, Creo Australia’s operations say it’s ‘business as usual.’

    Other significant shareholders on the Creo register include Capital Research and Management with about eight per cent, and British Columbia’s public sector pension fund with over five per cent. Amos Michelson himself believes in his company as he is the Creo board’s largest shareholder with over two million shares held, or with options.

    According to Canada’s Globe and Mail writer John Partridge, Michelson has indicated he will not step down and has already begun cost-cutting measures to return Creo to profit and maybe the halcyon days of 2000 when the shares hit USD$75 on the NASDAQ exchange. Yesterday they closed at $15.20, up 11.4% since the push to oust the board began last week.

    Amos Michelson said the board and management “remain confident” in the company’s “strategic direction” and recent cost-cutting initiatives. “Nevertheless,” he said, they “are evaluating all alternatives for maximizing shareholder value.”

    These alternatives include both acquisition and disposal of assets, and strategic alliances. International investment bank Merrill Lynch has been engaged since August on the project in an advisory capacity to the board.

    Creo has not made profit for four out of the past five years and surprised the plate consumable supply market last year by entering CTP plate manufacturing via acquisitions of plate manufacturers in South Africa and elsewhere.

    According to Globe and Mail, there is also speculation about who might take over the company should the total sale option be advocated. Analyst Vigen Ghazarian at Sprott Securities said Eastman Kodak “would gain the most.” This is obviously a reference to its 50% shareholding in Kodak-Polychrome Graphics, the world’s largest supplier of CTP plates.

    Agfa and Heidelberg have also been mentioned as potential candidates by analysts should all or part of Creo be up for sale.

    MY CALL

    I first met Amos Michelson and Creo at Seybold 1994 when they launched their first (and visible light!) CTP machine with the help of financing from RR Donnelly who took the first few units. Later, Kodak injected funds and the duopoly of Creo and KPG thermal plates took the printing world by storm. Creo means ‘I believe’ and this sums up the attitude of Creo execs and employees. They are passionate about their technologies.

    Let’s not forget that Creo includes Scitex and was once known as Creo-Scitex. My view is that these two companies have helped drag the global printing industry kicking and screaming into the IT era by making digital technologies available to all and sundry. It would be a shame if the pioneers were estranged from their good work. Scitex’s Efi Arazi went on to found EFI, another example of a forward-looking outfit bringing our industry enormous digital benefits through technological and culture change.

    That the Burton-Goodwood putsch should happen shortly after the global syndication of ‘analytical’ reports about Creo in the trade media is a curious coincidence. [See Andy Tribute’s commentary members.whattheythink.com/home/ge041019tribute.cfm and type CTP into Print21Online Search Archive for the ongoing debate – ed.]

    That such close attention is being paid by very sharp analysts to a medium-sized Canadian tech stock is also interesting. It seemed to begin when Creo entered the plate supply market and flamed up when it announced a doubling of plate capacity only weeks ago.

    Who stands to loose if Creo carves out a handy slice of the global $3 billion+ plate market? You know the answer to that one.

    And maybe it’s in this direction we should look to see who might buy Creo should its shares be put up for sale, or should the Burton-Goodwood challenge succeed.

    But the Creo ‘ceo’ is not selling and not stepping down and who can blame him? He’s young and his company files a patent just about every week. If the share price keeps heading North, as it has done in the past week, why be in a hurry?

    When it comes to CTP Monopoly, Creo has got Mayfair and maybe Park Lane too.

    Roll the dice……..

  • Scott Print scoops WA Picas

    Once again the WA PICAs exceeded everyone’s expectations and was a great night for far west’s print, packaging and visual communications industry.

    Scott print scooped the pools again this year with eight Gold, four Silver and eight Bronze PICAs, followed by Lamb Printers with one Gold, seven Silver and six Bronze.

    Apprentice of the year went to Darren Neindorf of West Australian Newspaper (pictured).

    This year’s the PICAs received exceptional sponsorship support from a wide range of companies and in particular the Paper Marketing Council (consisting of Spicers Paper, Boomerang Paper, CPI, Dalton Fine Paper and Edwards Dunlop Paper) which was the major event sponsor.

    This night’s theme was Prepare to be amazed”, all about the circus with fire jugglers, acrobats and trapez, while John McNaught and Dixie Marshall from Channel 9 did a great job as comperes.

    Following is the complete list of winners. Is your company here – or perhaps more importantly, is your competition?


    Gold Medals were awarded to:

    • Compac Marketing – Display Signs
    • Diamond Diecutting – Stationery
    • Foiling Works – Embellishment
    • Format Finishing – Welded Plastic Products
    • Imatec Imaging – Digital Printing
    • Labelpower – Labels
    • Lamb Printers – Programs/Menus/Presentation
    • Lithoforms – Business Forms
    • Optima Press – Saddle-Stitched Booklets Catalogues,
    • Pilpel Print – Lithographic Printing
    • Planet Graphics – Screen printed textiles
    • PMP Print – Direct Mail And Promotional
    • Print Finishing Line – Finishing
    • QDI Direct Press x two
        – Leaflets/Folded Leaflets:
        – Posters/Art Reproduction

    • Scott Print x eight
        – Labels -Offset
        – Calendars;
        – Greeting & Postcards;
        – Annual Report;
        – Saddle-Stitched Booklets Catalogues;
        – Books, Catalogues, Brochures;
        – Innovation;
        – Case bound books<

    • Service Containers – Corrugated Printing
    • Simnett Press – Small Business Award
    • Sun Industries – Labels
    • The Packaging Company – Folding Cartons, Boxes & Containers
    • West Australian Newspapers – Newspapers/Newspaper Inserts
    • Worldwide Online Printing – Self Promotion
    • SIlver Medials were awarded to:

    • Compac Marketing – Posters/Art Reproduction
    • Dataflow Business Systems – Business Forms
    • Format Finishing – Finishing
    • Haymarket – Digital Printing
    • Intafoil – Embellishment
    • Labelpower – Labels
    • Labels
    • Labelworld WA – Labels
    • Lamb Printers x seven
        – Books, Catalogues, Brochures; – Books, Catalogues, Brochures; – Saddle-Stitched Booklets Catalogues; – Saddle-Stitched Booklets Catalogues; – Labels -Offset ; – Case bound books; – Annual Report.

    • MJB&B Advertising & Marketing – Programs/Menus/Presentation
    • Optima Press x three
        – Leaflets/Folded Leaflets; – Stationery; – Saddle-Stitched Booklets Catalogues.

    • PMP Print – Direct Mail And Promotional
    • Quality Press – Calendars
    • Scott Print x four
        – Greeting & Postcards; – Self Promotion; – Innovation;
        – Calendars

    • Seragraph Prints – Welded Plastic Products
    • Simnett Press x two
        – Lithographic Printing; – Small Business Award

    • The Packaging Company – Folding Cartons, Boxes & Containers
    • Bronze medals were awarded to:

    • Fast Finishing Services x two
        – Finishing; – Finishing.

    • Foiling Works – Embellishment
    • Format Finishing – Finishing
    • Labelpower – Labels
    • Labelworld WA x seven
        – Labels; – Posters/Art Reproduction; – Saddle-Stitched Booklets Catalogues; – Annual Report; – Calendars; – Case bound books;
        – Saddle-Stitched Booklets Catalogues; Lithoforms – Business Forms

    • Percival Print & Packaging x two
        – Programs/Menus/Presentation; – Folding Cartons, Boxes & Containers.

    • Pilpel Print x three
        – Stationery; – Stationery; – Annual Report.

    • PMP Print x two
        – Direct Mail And Promotional; – Newspapers/Newspaper Inserts.

    • QDI Direct Press x two
        – Leaflets/Folded Leaflets; – Digital Printing.

    • S.O.S. Printing – Specialty Or Special Printing
    • Scott Print x eight
        – Self Promotion; – Self Promotion; – Saddle-Stitched Booklets Catalogues; – Design; – Books, Catalogues, Brochures; – Greeting & Postcards; – Case bound books; – Leaflets/Folded Leaflets; Seragraph Prints – Welded Plastic Products.

    • Simnett Press x two
        – Small Business Award; – Lithographic Printing.

    • Supa Stik – Labels -Offset
    • The Packaging Company x two
        – Folding Cartons, Boxes & Containers; – Innovation

    • Worldwide Online Printing x two
        – Digital Printing; – Digital Printing.

    • Finsbury stakes its future on the green vote.

      After cleaning up at the recent SA Picas, Ernest Orel, managing director, has confirmed a change of identity to Finsbury Green Printing, a name Finsbury Press has used as a division for some time. Claiming to be Australia’s leading environmental printer, he said that after five years of work on the company’s environmental credentials, “we can legitimately call everything we do ‘green’.”

      To coincide with the official launch of the new name, the company has released its inaugural annual Environment Report, a fully audited account of its environmental activities.

      In a letter to customers Orel says that Finsbury Green Printing is the first printer in Australia to open itself to public scrutiny in such a way and “we are happy to do it because we are proud of our achievements.”

      Among the distinctions he is claiming is

    • The first Australian printer to gain simultaneous accreditation of ISO14001 (Environmental Management Systems) and ISO9001:2000 (Quality Management Systems).
    • The only commercial printer in Australia to volunteer for the Federal Government’s Greenhouse Challenge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
    • The first Australian printer to publish an audited Environmental Report on its own activities.
    • There is more to the move to environmental printing than idealism or care for the biosphere. Other companies such as Focus Press in NSW are also actively promoting their environmental standards.

      Increasingly major corporations and government departments are moving towards enforcing a more responsible attitude to the environment from suppliers. That this can be a lucrative market differentiation is seen by Finsbury Green Printing’s claim that 85 per cent of its new business is attracted by its green record.

      The company is keen to reinforce that its customers pay no more for environmentally friendly operations. As Orel tells his customers. “You protect the environment, [while] quality is absolutely maintained and at no additional cost. At Finsbury Green Printing we have found that environmental responsibility and turning a dollar are not incompatible.”

    • Printing industry is in trouble worldwide – the Tribute analysis

      Starting with a solid review of the current state of the industry, he identified a drop in the amount of printing due to the changes in the way information is delivered, combined with massive over capacity in the industry, which is driving down prices and margins, as the two defining challenges. With digital printing continuing to move steadily away from the commercial sector to become an office function, according to the Tribute view successful printers are concentrating on added value customer support, even while the majority of industry investments are still being ploughed into traditional technology in order to increase capacity. The current changes impacting the industry are not part of the normal business cycle, but are structural in nature. In other words there will be no return to the ’good old days.’ What is being experienced now is a fundamental, redefining change in how people communicate and print’s role in supporting that communication.

      Accordingly printers have to recognise they are in the communications, not the ink-on-paper business. There is no doubt that the industry is under severe pressure with the market enforcing change encouraging printers to reduce costs, improve turnaround and improve quality. Under the impact of digital printing run lengths are coming down. Tribute made the point that 78 per cent of colour printing is in run lengths of 5000 and under, a figure that is set to rise. In addition he quotes Frank Romano of RIT who maintains that by next year 33 per cent of all jobs will require a 24-hour turnaround. Much of the impetus for change is driven by the emergence of the internet. The world is changing to an electronic transaction economy. Work is migrating from print to the internet at the rate of 45 billion PDF files moving onto the web annualy, in addition to huge numbers of office pages.

      Printing is a service industry.

      All of which proves that printers and the printing industry cannot generate demand for print. The market decides where the growth in demand will come and in such major sectors as newspapers, periodicals, books and catalogues the trend is downward. On the other hand packaging, advertising and direct mail are on the rise over the long-term Printers compete for work by the level and quality of service they provide to satisfy their customer’s needs. A printer cannot compete on price alone – they will soon go out of business if they do. Printers today need to be more than just put ink on paper, they must add value.

      Printing is a digital industry

      Addressing the state of technology Tribute maintains that every element of the print creation and production process is now digital. Digital work flows from customer’s job creation to print delivery. There is now an imperative to link the content (brand) owner into the production chain.

      “Without digital prepress one cannot get production benefits from advanced offset presses. Without digital operations a printer cannot be an added value service provider,” he said. Digital working with communications is opening up new markets and allowing greater competition. Digital workflows are primarily responsible for building efficiency and reducing manpower. Digital systems for management of digital files eliminates film storage. Re-usable digital data can be re purposed for other work and other media. The industry is entering a stage where full internet connectivity for client communication and marketing will be taken for granted.

      Latest trends in CTP

      Printers are under market pressure to move to CTP. The advantages are obvious – to reduce costs of consumables – to reduce costs in the press room – to give greater productivity – to improve quality on the press – to cut deadlines and to reduce space used for film processes. There has been a rapid adoption of CtP by commercial printers. The emphasis now on B2 and B3 formats. Thermal imaging has 60% plus of commercial market, but visible light is fighting back providing cheaper systems with lower costs.

      In the CTP marketplace Tribute recognises that consumable packages are becoming all important. He identified Creo as increasing the competitive pressure in the thermal space with very low pricing particularly for market entry. More violet light plates are becoming available with the technology finding increasing favour with smaller and mid-size printers. KPG is the latest supplier to enter the field, having previously concentrated on thermal plates. Others suppliers are also coming in to the market in 2005.

      Process or chemistry free plates are finally in the market since drupa. He posed the question as to whether the cost benefits of the more expensive technology is really there yet? Among the new approaches in CtCP for smaller printers he identified ink jet CtP from Glunz and Jensen using blank uncoated plates.

      Pressrooms are going digital

      Modern presses have a total emphasis on automation and are becoming more digitally controlled to improve efficiency and reduce manpower. Presses are being linked in to the company’s business systems as well as to prepress for rapid set-up. Lean production is the mantra of the moment and rapid make-ready is the key for profits.

      He gave a briefing on Heidelberg’s new strategy with the major press manufacturer concentrating on sheetfed offset. It main thrust this year is to deliver an oversize B1 press with higher speed to attack Komori and MAN Roland. There is an enhanced product range in the B2 and B3 range. All suppliers are placing an increased emphasis on perfecting sheetfed presses with long format or stacked.

      The latest DI presses from Ryobi (KPG and KBA) came in for a good wrap. He identified them as offering very high quality printing, easy to use and effective costs from 300 – 10,000 impressionsAs far as Tribute is concerned they are ideal for smaller printers wanting quality colour without high quality colour press skills. Excellent against digital printing except for variable information and very short run and immediate turnaround work.

      Looking around at other forms of printing he nominated web offset’s improved capability for shorter run lengths due to increased automation efficiencies. There is little new in gravure apart from presses going to 4.2 m width for publications. Flexo quality improvements through through CtP is expanding the market. As for screen printing it is being severely hit by grand format ink jet, but the use of increased automation is helping it to hold onto its market.

      In conclusion Tribute maintained that print should be a part of the customer’s workflow, not the customer being a part of the printer’ workflow. His parting advice for printers was to become a digital services company instead of a printer.

    • New Zealand rises to Challenge of Change

      According to Joan Grace, ceo, (pictured 2nd from right with conference presenters Trish Witkowski, Gary Donnison and Mark Witkowski ) the Association’s ambitions were more than realised and a solid foundation was laid for future events. “Everyone I’ve spoken with is pleased with the way it has gone. The speakers were very good and I think we gave those who attended something to think about and to take away with them to their businesses,” she said.

      Over three days at the Wairiki resort, participants were treated to a world-class event with presentations from such international identities as Andy Tribute (UK), Trish and Mark Witkowski (USA), Les Bovenlander (Hong Kong) and a phalanx of Australians, including marketing guru Malcolm Auld, CTP expert Ross Gilberthorpe, enviro activist designer Helen Lewis, and Gary Donnison, ceo of Printing Industries.

      The local presenters more than lived up to the challenge with motivational speaker, Deb Gilbertson, energising everyone for miles around with her irreverent brand of wit and wisdom, while All Black coach, Graham Harry held forth at the conference dinner on what troubles the national rugby team.

      Why hasn’t anyone done it before?

      Perhaps the most eye-opening presentation of all was Trish Witkowski’s enthusiastic account of her love affair with folding, the essential but often overlooked part of the printing process. Few in the audience were not influenced by her infectious enthusiasm for all things that can be creased, scored, bent and guillotined.

      As creator, along with husband Mark, of the recent GATF Award winning FoldRite system, the designer and author of the industry bible FOLD, gave a fascinating account of how her master’s thesis grew into a seven-year Odyssey that has broken new ground and laid a foundation for a industry-wide standardised system of folding. Hard to imagine that at this stage of the printing industry’s history such an influential project can be the work of one person.

      Her palpable joy in discovering, collecting and exhibiting rare and usual examples of folding imbued everyone in the room with new ways of looking at everyday objects. The demonstration of how designers and printers can download templates from the www.foldfactory.com and a ‘conference special’ six-month free membership proved to be one of the most useful outcomes of any recent graphic arts conference.

      The ability to download templates, folding or otherwise, was the theme of Mark Witkowski’s address. Describing his occupation as ‘digital technology strategist’ for the Sheridan Group of printing companies on the East Coast USA, he focused on the migration of programs to the web in the shape of ASPs, or downloadable software sites.

      As the designer of the foldfactory.com he is in a pre-eminent position to scope the shift to ASPs and gave examples of three other different types of technologies, other than folding, that are available.

    • literature design www.mybrochuremaker.com
    • preflighting and image preparation www.sheridan.com/
    • ad preparation www.magsend.com
    • These are the type of sites that are set to change the way the industry buys its software and works its processes.

      Moving to the web

      Ross Gilberthorpe, KPG, proved to that rare breed – a sales rep who successfully resisted the urge to flog his own wares in front of an audience. Tasked with giving an industry overview of the choices in, mainly digital, proofing, he provided an admirably clear introduction to the minefield of toner versus inkjet, softproofing versus digital halftone, and analogue versus everything else. His mantra that it all depends on what you are trying to achieve made rock-solid sense.

      He shared the time, (well, hogged it a little, truth be told) with the always cheerful Les Bovenlander down from Hong Kong for Real Time Image, the recent KPG purchase. Reinforcing the trend that more value is moving onto the web www.realtimeimage.com Les provided an introduction to virtual proofing on monitors, connecting to the company’s San Francisco site in real time, to provide a convincing demonstration that we are all going to have to adjust our thinking as these remote technology sites develop.

      Not all about the technology

      The conference theme of The Challenge of Change meant that much of the focus was away from technology issues and on to the challenges facing the industry in other spheres. Malcolm Auld gave a refreshing presentation on marketing, how and why it must be done. Ranging far beyond his specialty of direct mail, where he is the acknowledged master, he gave down to earth advice on how printers should speak to advertising agencies, with tactics on how to navigate around the production manager, the account manager, and the creatives to find the one person worth talking with. Often hilarious, his was a high-powered address that left the audience applauding for more.

      On a different note, Helen Lewis of RMIT in Melbourne, gave an update on the state of environmentally responsible design. Justifiably taking a fairly sombre approach to the impact the printing industry is having on the world around us, she charted some of the design-based initiatives underway to limit the damage. She spoke to printers, papermakers and designers setting standards for the stewardship strategies that will either be industry responsibilities, or government-enforced rules, if we don’t seize the initiative.

      In like mode Gary Donnison, ceo of Printing Industries brought his New Zealand colleagues up to speed with the progress of benchmarking for the industry, setting standards by which to operate. He used the successful Benchmarking Vol 1 from Australia www.printnet.com.au as an example and encouraged the local industry to follow suite.

      New Zealand flavour throughout

      It would be wrong to give the impression that the international speakers at the conference overshadowed the locals. Anthony Drake of the Association gave a fine presentation on dealing with employee fraud and the shifting employment landscape, while Jeremy Baker impressed with his well-argued plea for firms to invest in attracting high-quality employees.

      But few speakers came near Deb Gilbertson for sheer value and entertainment. Taking her audience on an adventure in leadership she demolished stereotypes, slew sacred cows with abandon – especially management bovines – and gave a spirited account of how to get from vision to achievement in life and in business. Imbued with positivism she left at least one trans-Tasman attendee wondering why Graham Harry and not her had the job of whipping the All Blacks into shape. He kept the advice to himself on the basis that it would only be giving succour to the enemy to drop the hint.

      All in all a great conference and one to whet the appetite for the next one in two years time.