December 2006
Worth the trip to Vancouver
CPIA almost gets it right with conference mix of humour and information
If you didn’t go to the CPIA convention in Vancouver you missed something. For the second time in a row, the national convention was more than worth the trip. It was a productive event with a strong educational side to it. You actually learned things you could apply to your business once you got home. The keynote speaker was David Friesen of Friesens Corp. of Altona, Man. (the book printers). For the second year in a row CPIA clinched one of Canada’s printing icons to deliver the opening session. David did a great job of tying the past, present and future together. He talked about thinking globally and acting locally. He discussed how Friesens and other printers have and can continue to adapt to a changing market. (His speech is posted on Graphic Monthly’s website,

Other topics that were covered included a plain-English discussion of computer integrated manufacturing and JDF. There was a fun session on humour in the workplace. If you don’t have a sense of humour in this industry, you will go nuts. We heard a good presentation by Ryerson’s Abhay Sharma and Chris Kular on colour management and remote proofing, as well as two excellent sessions on how to implement lean manufacturing by Bob Adams, a front line instructor for companies that are implementing lean manufacturing or Toyota-inspired systems. Having a printer who had gone the lean manufacturing route would have been ideal, but the session was still well worth it.

There was even a presentation on CPIA/PIA member benefits which, I have to admit, I thought would be a bore when I saw it on the program. Actually, it was well done and opened my eyes to many member benefits that are available but I was not using. I do a lot of flying, and discovered CPIA members get 25% off at Park’N Fly locations. Through CPIA affiliation with PIA/GATF, we can access a lot of educational material available through courses, manuals and webinars. PIA even has a toll-free number, good anywhere in Canada, where you can get information on almost anything to do with the printing industry—technical, environmental, health and safety, prepress, or human resource concerns.

The roundtable discussion on profit drivers at the end of the convention was lively and entertaining. The panel consisted of Eric Delzer of Delzer Lithograph in Wisconsin, Curwin Friesen of Friesens Corp, and Sean Murray of Advocate Printing and Publishing in Nova Scotia.

What was different at this convention was the atmosphere—a buzz or camaraderie that has not been present at this convention for at least the last decade. The down side of the event was the attendance. For an industry of more than 9,000 locations, only about 60-some people turned up. That’s a bit better than last year when 50 turned up, but there is still a long ways to go. This year, CPIA tried promoting the convention to non-members for once, with limited success.

I have been critical of past conventions—some feel too critical to the point of hurting attendance—but the era of parties and old-boy get-togethers died out years ago. To CPIA’s credit, it has finally gotten its act together and made conventions worth going to. Now, all it has to do is get enough people to actually go. For those who did not go to this year’s convention, you missed a good one. It was worth the trip to Vancouver.
Alexander Donald is the publisher of Graphic Monthly Canada.
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