News & Tech caught up with Thayer Long, the president of the Association for PRINT Technologies, about what it takes to succeed in the print industry today and the upcoming PRINT 19 conference, to be held Oct. 3–5 at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

News & Tech: What’s new with the Association for PRINT Technologies?

Long: In short, everything. Unfortunately, there are still far too many companies who are fooling themselves that it’s business as usual or trying to go back in time.There are also too many companies who are so afraid of losing what they’ve got, they are only focused on themselves and don’t want to play in the sandbox with others. Well, good luck. We’re seeing that the companies that are continuing to do well are the ones coming up with innovative products designed to meet the needs of their customers. They are also very open to sharing, because it takes more than just a piece of equipment and good business practices to succeed today. Creating a success formula is really tough, and not one that can be easily replicated. Even with all the right ingredients at your disposal and a great cake recipe, it still may come out tasting like garbage.

For APTech, we are working to move the print industry towards the future and as a result we are refocusing our products and services. Last year we launched LeadingPRINT, a magazine for entrepreneurs who are focused on the future.The success of the magazine and the conversations that it has generated is a great lead-in to the next service that we’re going to be offering, which is an online community forum called APTech Connect. With so many opportunities available to our industry, this community of entrepreneurs needs a place to collaborate and needs a place to cut through all the BS.

This new online community is like having a peer group available to you 24/7. It is designed and built to drive engagement across all areas of the print industry. And that means everyone — manufacturers, printers, designers, creatives and all who have a connection to print.

APTech Connect is for the innovators and idea generators and those who want to be associated with them and it’s free for both APTech members and non-members.

We expect that the discussions on the forum will be frank, honest and to quote a favorite board member of mine, we plan to “poke the bear” at all times.

News & Tech: What can you tell us about PRINT 19?

Long: PRINT 19 isn’t going to be all things to all people. And we don’t expect or pretend that it is. It isn’t for the survivalists — those who remember and lament when print/PRINT (and they mean both!) was as large as (fill in the blank). It's not for people who think that a piece of machinery is going to solve their declining revenue. It’s definitely not for the hordes looking to invade the next vertical only to start another race to the bottom.

PRINT 19 is for those that agree that there is no better time to be in the print industry. It's an event for those who are broad-minded risk takers and those looking to write a new chapter for the print industry. Chicago is the place to get you on the path to building a bright and relevant future.

News & Tech: So why should members of the newspaper industry

come to the show?

Long: PRINT 19 is designed to tempt those who want to construct a better product for print consumers. Newspapers have been facing many challenges, and let’s be honest, some newspaper printing will probably never come back nor should it, yet does mean it’s a goner? Of course not. Our keynote, Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, will talk about “The Wired Future: Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Privacy, Social Media,Truth,Tech Companies, and More” and still Wired produces a printed magazine because the physical experience is still very relevant. So those people who are in the newspaper segment should come to PRINT and engage and collaborate with those in other verticals who have very similar challenges and see how we can address them in a collaborative way.

News & Tech: Historically, APTech has been an advocate for postal reform. Are there any updates you can share about what’s happening?

Long:Yes, we are still advocating for postal reform, which of course affects everyone in the print industry, including newspapers. This is an issue that we recommend that everyone become familiar with. On April 30, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform held a hearing on the financial condition of the Postal Service and the need for postal reform. Many groups from within the print industry were involved including postal management and the postal unions. Joel Quadracci, president and CEO of Quad, represented the print industry and gave testimony. I suggest that reviewing the committee’s website is a great place to get more details of the hearing and to learn about the issues that impact us all.

But I’ll also say let’s be real, postal reform by itself is not a strategy for industry success. Let’s get entrepreneurial: How can we innovate and develop print products that aren’t even around today? If we put equal energy into that as an industry as we do with postal reform, I think we’d be better off.

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