June 2003
It is more than just a building

The last couple of years have not been great for the printing industry in Canada. With a slowdown in advertising and manufacturing—the two largest users of print—a lot of printers have pulled back on making expenditures. This has not just slowed down industry suppliers, but in a lot of cases it’s really hurt them.
So it was quite interesting to see the list of industry suppliers that contributed to the new building for the school of Graphic Communications Management at Ryerson University. The list includes most of the major suppliers to our industry and a number of smaller suppliers such as Agfa, Cascades, Coast Paper, Fuji Graphics, Kodak Polychrome Graphics and Müller Martini. And Heidelberg led the pack with major equipment donations and a 10-year financial commitment to the school. Accordingly, it’s been named the Heidelberg Centre–School of Graphic Communications Management.

The big payback for the industry is really going to come with the students Ryerson will turn out

In a time of layoffs and cutbacks it is extremely gratifying to see industry suppliers take such a farsighted approach. There will be little, if any, immediate payback. And in 10 years who will remember who contributed what?
The big payback for the industry is really going to come with the students Ryerson will turn out. Now that printing is a mature industry, we need better and smarter graduates. They are going to have to be more creative and imaginative at using and selling the value of print than ever before.
In fact, our future growth is dependent on these would-be managers putting all the recent technological advances in print to work for printing customers. Education is necessary not just for the technical stuff, but for finding new applications, marketing, selling and understanding how print best works in the communications industry.

I had an intriguing conversation with one of the third-year students at the opening in early April. She said how interesting she found the industry and that someday she would like to have her own shop. She realized she would have to find a good niche in the market and find a way to differentiate her company from everyone else. She would have to get to know what customers need and what printing technologies would work for them. It would be a lot of work, but the challenge and fun would be worth it, she said.
Now if only Ryerson can turn out a couple of hundred more like her, our industry would be in great shape. It is not really the building that the industry suppliers made generous donations to in these tough times, but the future of the industry. From someone who makes their living in this industry, I thank you.

Alexander Donald is the publisher of Graphic Monthly Canada.
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