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‘One big happy family’ – VC

Tuesday, 30 June 2015
By Print 21 Online Article

'A natural transition': Peter Harper, Visual Connections

Melbourne’s Visual Impact show in September will be on top of the agenda when Australia’s newest graphic arts organisation Visual Connections begins its operations today.

The new group – a merger of leading industry supplier groups the Graphic Arts Merchants Association of Australia (GAMAA) and the Visual Industries Suppliers Association (VISA) – will be based at VISA’s existing offices in Sydney’s north west.

“GAMAA has moved its office into our offices in Epping and we’re all one big happy family,” said VISA GM Peter Harper, who will jointly manage the new entity with GAMAA executive director Karen Goldsmith. Both GAMAA and VISA will continue to trade under their individual names for 12 months in accordance with legal requirements.

The new board will have equal representation from both associations. Board members will be: Mitchell Mulligan – Bottcher; Russell Cavenagh – DES; Ian Martin – WRH Global; Luke Wooldridge – Kodak; Mark Tailby – Graphic Art Mart; John Wall – Roland DG; Marcus Adler -Adler Digital; and Troy Macintosh – Sign Sheet Distributers.

“From today, everyone will be answering the phone, Visual Connections,” said Harper. “We’ve still got a lot of paperwork to take care of but everything’s pretty much sorted and all of our members and directors have signed the relevant consent forms. Our first directors’ meeting will be on Thursday but it will still be a few weeks until our official launch event.”

The Visual Impact show in Melbourne on 17-19 September would be the first trade show to be owned and operated by Visual Connections, said Harper.

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 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 merger was a natural transition and it’s just the way the industry is moving these days,” said Harper.  “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.”

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