Printing United 2019 – Competition & Partnership

The major industry expo, Print United 2019, took place October 23 – 25 in Dallas, Texas. This was a special sort of year for the whole industry. Leading up to this show there were all kinds of questions about the future of our industry’s trade shows. Sadly, we’ve gotten used to some of that. This year has reset things for a lot of people. Despite trying political times and a degree of uncertainty in the market, things are great. The market continues to beat expectations and shows like Print United demonstrate a fresh vibrancy that’s boosting spirits. This year, the aisles were packed and next year’s show is slated to be nearly double the square footage!

Over the past 20 years or so, as the internet has matured, we’ve seen it replace a lot of the function that trade shows used to complete. Learning about products and hyper-specific discussions happen 24 hours a day online. However, there’s still a magic to a trade show, seeing is believing, and for people making large investments we can understand the value in comparing products directly.

The Print United show in Dallas came off the heels of a poorly attended show in Chicago. These two shows were only two weeks apart, causing exhibitors to make a difficult choice of either splitting their investment or hedging their bets with one show or the other.  This scheduling was no accident and may represent a major blow to the future of the Chicago print show. On the flipside this expo upset is bringing much of the traditional print finishing market into the fold of the sign and graphics world with Print United.

This battle-of-the-shows strikes up a lot of feelings for everyone in the mix. On one hand it’s tragic; yet we can also see a bright side of reunification that was bound to happen in one way or another. There’s always competition in business but if we stop and think about it we’re all supporting each other more than we realize. The shop just like yours, is in some ways different, catering to a similar but different set of needs. It’s easy see it as competition but in many ways it’s a functional partnership. What I mean is that competition drives us to be better and we all should find success in that.  There’s room for all of us and direct competition pushes competing businesses into distinct specializations. It makes us better.

In negotiating, it’s natural to fight for as much as one can get. Both parties push for what they think is best for them. Ideally both parties come out of an agreement with a partial win. In a tug-of-war on the boundary of a deal, mutual benefit arises by keeping both parties honest and honorable. Of course not every deal goes smooth and even when things go south we are destined to take our lumps. There’s a net effect out of eating crow: it stinks! We learn from those experiences and stop making those mistakes. The next deal is smoother and the mistake isn’t repeated.

Everything even down to the deal you make, is about being a good partner. Your competition only makes you stronger. Your clients drive you to be your best. And we all seek success that brings us to game day.

Steven Barrett
MSL Account Executive


Mid-State Litho
5459 Fenton Rd.
Flint, MI 48570
PH: 810.238.7370
www.midstatelitho.net