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Incoming SGIA Chairman David Van Veldhuizen Speaks on Changes and Challenges

The industry is changing, lines between niche markets are becoming transparent, technology is pushing delivery systems to a new level and anybody in the world is only 1.7 seconds away.

This article appeared in the SGIA News December, 2005 issue and is reprinted with permission. Copyright 2005 Specialty Graphic Imaging Association ( All Rights Reserved.

In an ever changing graphics marketplace, paying attention to good data is the new survival skill.

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  • SGIA News: What’s changed in the industry in the last year ­ and how have those changes impacted the way SGIA members are doing business?

    Dave: Clearly changes in technology will continue to have a huge impact on SGIA members. The exciting and rapid developments in the digital area are providing improved image quality, imaging speed and capability. When I first came into the business, each process had specific turf and territory by offering unique products. Today, SGIA members find themselves in the business of providing graphics to a more sophisticated group of print buyers. The separations between niche processes are rapidly disappearing. Print buyers may be less concerned about how the products are manufactured and more concerned about delivery, color management and cost. The new graphic provider may be required to utilize one or more processes to provide a finished product.

    The Internet and “e-business” is an area that has also impacted SGIA members.

    The communication tools available using the Internet have had an impact on how graphics business is done. One of the oracles of business consulting, Tom Peters, says “with the advent of the Internet any e-mail address anywhere in the world is now only 1.7 seconds away.” The business world, including the graphics business, is clearly becoming a global marketplace.

    At one time many screen printers had certain niche markets that screen printing served. As the graphics industry changes those niche markets are also disappearing. Today, a print provider may not just be the traditional screen printer and may be competing with a photo shop, a blue print shop or an offset shop that has added some type of digital output capability.

    SGIA News: What do imaging professionals need to know and to do to be successful?

    Dave: Today’s SGIA member should have good process management infrastructure. Good job costing or cost accounting tools are also beneficial especially during times when the cost of goods are changing. Competition is keen and understanding your costs will provide the necessary data to make the right decisions moving forward.

    Deploying a culture of outstanding customer service is critical. The print buyer of today has many choices of print providers. The White House Office of Consumer Affairs recently stated that “An unhappy customer remembers the incident for twenty-three and one half years and talks about it for eighteen months.” A print provider can have the best equipment and processes but a client must have a good “customer service” experience every time they have contact with a provider.

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    Become involved in an industry organization such as SGIA that provides current and important industry data. SGIA provides collective data and experiences from graphics providers and suppliers all around the world. As the economy becomes more global your competition may no longer be just down the street or down the road. SGIA membership provides a resource “or body of knowledge” necessary to make the right decisions and choices as it relates to your business.

    SGIA News: What do new technologies mean in terms of day-to-day business for SGIA members?

    Dave: As industry technologies, both old and new, move forward, the print provider will have more tools available to them than ever before. To be in this industry today is kind of exciting and fun but also kind of scary. The print buyer is less concerned about how the product is manufactured which provides the print buyer with more and more print providers. The traditional niche market lines have become blurred. Meeting client expectations by making the right technology choices will be critical. Who knows what new technologies are on the horizon going forward? I don’t know about you but I can’t wait.

    SGIA News: What do you think the industry will look like in 10 years? What will imaging professionals need to know if they want to stay successful?

    Dave: Forward looking it would be a fair statement that ten years from now there will still be a need for the same products members produce today, e.g., imprinted textiles, point of sales, decorative graphics. The largest change will be how the product is purchased, produced and delivered.

    The chances may be good that the products will still be produced using a combination of traditional screen printing and digital. However, there could be a new technology that will be invented, embraced and matured in the next decade. As I said before, that is what makes this industry kind of exciting and kind of scary, but always fun.

    As global competition increases SGIA members need to be positioned to do business anywhere and anytime. The industry is changing, lines between niche markets are becoming transparent, technology is pushing delivery systems to a new level and anybody in the world is only 1.7 seconds away.

    David Van Veldhuizen, along with his wife Judy, founded The Mitographers, Inc. in 1977. With operations based in South Dakota, the company provides custom made graphic markings to the OEM market niche. The company lists a number of well known brands of manufacturers and processes as long term, loyal clients by providing quality service and products. Employing nearly eighty associates, the company provides products and services to clients located through the US and several foreign countries.

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