Historically, Graph Expos that follow DRUPA are good shows. US companies will come to Germany to see what is new in the industry and then, having had time to digest the information, make their purchase decisions at Graph Expo. Having said that, this past Graph Expo followed the pattern and we were quite pleased with the quality of the attendee and the level of interest.
We all remember the shows in the 90’s where the aisles were packed with people. The reason we do not see that anymore is because companies no longer send multiple employees to the shows. What you now see are the decision makes which is what we really want anyway. I know we used to bus in all our employees for a day and we no longer do that.
At Graph Expo we exhibited for the first time the Kluge OmniFold Folder Gluer System. With its greater converting length, ease of operation and solid design it was very well received. We sold the unit off the show floor and took orders for additional machines as well.
Just prior to the show opening, we sold the Kawahara TXR1100 Automatic Blank Separator we exhibited to Larkin Industries in St. Paul, Minnesota. This machine is now installed, of course, and Larkin is very pleased with the savings they are realizing by blanking on the Kawahara versus what they were doing manually.
As I look at our industry niche as a whole, trade shows remind me of the changes we are seeing. Finishing continues to be a growth area in the overall printing market. The need to differentiate the final printed product is in even greater demand and the use of foil and embossing continues to appeal to the market.
As a US manufacturer, I am concerned, though, about the equipment we see coming in from China and other low labor markets. At DRUPA there were no less than ten Bobst cloned presses. Next year is PRINT, the largest US show, and I know there will be many of these presses there on display. In copying the design of a press, the end result will be the loss of innovation. While I do not know the answers, I do know that the importation of cloned presses is a threat to our industries and markets; both for the press manufacturers and the press users.
Hank Brandtjen, President, Brandtjen & Kluge, LLC.