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GAMAA and VISA merger is on!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015
By Print 21 Online Article

Leading industry supplier groups the Graphic Arts Merchants Association of Australia (GAMAA) and the Visual Industries Suppliers Association (VISA) will merge into one major organisation that will result in a radically changed landscape for the graphic arts sector.

“I’m very excited about the move and it will be great for the industry,” said Peter Harper, general manager, VISA. “The lawyers are still finalizing the details so I can’t tell you the new name just yet but we’ll have an official launch next month and will release all of the information then. It’s a very natural transition and it’s just the way the industry is moving these days.  Many printers are now doing sign and display work and 25% of GAMAA members are already members of VISA.”

Great for the industry - Peter Harper, GM, VISA

According to Harper, the move will benefit everyone in the graphic arts industry. “You won’t have two separate organisations competing in the same market.  The money pool will flow back into one organisation and the additional savings will all go to association members and to the industry for trade shows, marketing and advertising.

Harper said the merger idea had been around in one form or another ‘for years and years’ and had been discussed with all of the other major industry associations before a decision was made recently to proceed. Print 21 first revealed the merger plans in December last year.

Karen Goldsmith, CEO  GAMAA, is very supportive of the move. “It will be very good for the industry. It’s the right time for it to happen. We have to keep moving to make sure we are doing the best for the industry,” she said.

The new organization, which will take the form of an as yet unnamed limited liability company, will officially begin trading from 1 July, 2015 and the two existing groups will continue to run, as required by law, for a further 12 months before being wound up. It is envisaged that the board membership of the new entity will be shared 50/50 between GAMAA and Visa.

Mitch Mulligan, president of GAMAA, gave his wholehearted support to the move during his address at the President’s Lunch during PrintEx. He told Print21 earlier in the year that the merger “made sense when you think of how the industry has changed.”

Much of the impetus for the merger has grown from the co-location of trade shows between the two bodies. GAMAA is half owner, with Printing Industries, of PacPrint and PrintEx, biannual exhibitions that swap between Melbourne and Sydney. VISA on the other hand has grown very proactive in promoting its Visual Impact show, running on average two a year between Gold Coast, Sydney and Melbourne. The arrival of wide-format inkjet has transformed these formerly screen-based shows into digital printing ones, ensuring a cross fertilization with many GAMAA corporate members. With the convergence of the technologies unlikely to reverse, over the years the merger took on an air of inevitability.

The trade show programme, as well as the ongoing role of Printing Industries going forward, is the subject of some speculation with little decided yet. There was no official comment from the Association.

The two organisations have grown from very different backgrounds. GAMAA was formed in the 1970s as a loose gathering of merchants, almost a ‘luncheon club’ where mutual interests and the state of the industry could be addressed. Only later did the Association become engaged in the activity for which it is best known, organising and running trade shows such as PacPrint and PrintEx, in conjunction with the Printing industries.

VISA is a younger organisation formed in the early 1990s with the specific aim of running trade shows and exhibitions for the signage industry. On its website it relates its origins as … Visual Impact Trade Shows began in the early 1990s after a group of supply companies became discontented with the trade show of the time, which was run by a profit making company. This company would dictate when and where our Trade Shows were to be held. Under the guidance of David Saunders and supported by the owners of three of the larger suppliers, the Sign Suppliers Association was formed, a not for profit organisation now known as the “Visual Industries Suppliers Association” (“VISA”). The association has grown from 6 members at its inception to over 100 in 2012, and has continued to run very successful trade shows all over Australia.




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