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PIAA and GASAA to become one body

Wednesday, 07 March 2012
By Print 21 Online Article

Two of Australia’s most notable printing trade bodies may soon be one, after the boards of Printing Industries (PIAA) and GASAA agree to explore an amalgamation of the two organisations. It’s a case of back to the altar for Garry Knespal, CEO of GASAA, who almost consumated a similar merger between the two in the 1990s.

The potential merger would see The Graphic Arts Services Association of Australia (GASAA) board be reconstituted as a section within the peak industry body with the intention of specifically addressing the needs of digital print and cross media communications, and the engagement with creative service providers. If the merger goes ahead, the PIAA would make up 94 per cent of the combined membership numbers of the new organisation.

“I believe the proposed new arrangement will allow member services to be enhanced by the pooling of the very considerable human and financial resources of both bodies,” says GASAA president, Theo Pettaras (pictured). “It is widely acknowledged that the organisations representing the industry need to understand the changes and challenges occurring and be able to help members address these and reap the benefits of new circumstances.”

According to Printing Industries’ national president, Susan Heany, the merger proposal is a response to the significant changes occurring in the graphic communications industry as it adjusts to the challenges of a shift to multi-channel communications and new technologies.

“Communication has become personalised, faster and individualised, changing the value chain with new emphasis on digital, design, innovation and marketing oriented services,” says Heany (pictured below). ““There is a view that many of the traditional boundaries that have defined the ‘turf’ of industry organisations are no longer relevant.”

Heany says the move to amalgamate is supported by a growing desire in the market for a single voice to represent the interests of an industry “that is at a cross roads were print markets have, and will continue to change dramatically.”

The two organisations have signed a ‘Heads of Agreement’ that outlines the key elements required for an amalgamation and will be lodged with Fair Work Australia, which will have to authorise the merger before it can go ahead.

According to Garry Knespal, the time is right for the move. "We’ve been working on this for over 12 months in an atmosphere of mutal respect. No one is holding a gun to anyone’s head. I’m excited about the prospect and I’m confident the Board wil will agree," he said.

Ther merger will add GASAA’s 100 plus company members to the existing 1,500 approximately membership of Printing Industries. It is likely to give other industry bodies cause for pause and consider whether a similar merger may not be in everyone’s best interests.

Both organisations have said they expect the process will be finalised towards the end of 2012.

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