WGM (World Graphic Machine) and its owner Mauro Beghetto hosted the 2019 pre-DRUPA meeting of the International Graphic Arts Fairtrade Association at their very impressive offices in Castelfranco, Veneto on the 19th October 2019. The President, René Graf (Graf-X-Press, Switzerland), Secretary, Alberto Rui (WGM, Italy) and Treasurer, Patrice Theurel (Grafinter, Switzerland) were present. The meeting was aimed at finalising the Association’s plans for DRUPA in June next year and to look at ways in increasing its membership among the best used machinery dealers and its exposure and recognition with printing companies worldwide. Members came from all over Europe and as far away as Taiwan and Japan, and a number of dealers interested in joining the association were present.
The Association was formed at DRUPA in 2012 with the intention of recruiting members committed to showing “fair and correct behaviour towards all suppliers, customers and service companies.” As well as working towards improving the image and ethics of the industry it aims at benefitting its members through cooperation and the interchange of information. It was the brainchild of René Graf who has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the industry and its main players, having been involved for nearly 40 years.
René is President of IGFA and introduced the meeting. He began with an overview of DRUPA and its development since 1982, looking at how both visitor numbers, exhibitors and the physical size of the show changed over that period – a time of constant expansion until the economic crisis of 2008. He made the point that this show was always seminal in terms of technical development and new equipment releases, with manufacturers holding back new products and changes in order to unveil them at the exhibition, so many machines later sold on the used machinery market, Heidelberg Speedmasters for examples, would be identified as “pre-DRUPA” or “post-DRUPA”. René also looked at the big technical developments which characterised particular shows and were landmarks in the development of the modern industry.
René was followed by Dr Sergio Facchini, a consultant engineer who gave us an insight into the role that experts can play in the printing industry in general and the used machinery sector in particular. He particularly highlighted the growing importance of the packaging industry and the need to adapt to this change.
John Roadnight and Wayne Morgan of pressXchange had been invited by IGFA to address the meeting. John analysed changes in the printing industry – particularly over the last 10 years, including the relative contraction of the European industry, its growth in the developing world, the increasing sales of digital presses etc at the expense of sheetfed and web. He then looked at the insight that pressXchange statistics could give. This included the changing demographic of users and an in-depth look at the enquiries to dealers generated by the site, including the relative performance of B1, B2 and B3 and possible reasons for that, popularity of various manufacturers, models, and press-configurations etc. and what the changes might indicate for the future of the graphic arts industry and of the used machinery sector.
Wayne had been asked to use his marketing knowledge to develop a strategy for the growth of IGFA and increase its exposure to buyers of printing equipment. This included a proposal to improve the content and appeal of the IGFA website.
After a very enjoyable lunch, with a plentiful supply of Prosecco, the famous local wine, members got round to discussing business of the Association, including its membership, developing and implementing its Code of Conduct, and its future plan. All current members of IGFA are keen to recruit like-minded, serious and reliable dealers, and strategies for this were discussed in lively conversation. We were then invited to tour the WGM factory – a well-equipped 2000 square metre facility with a good selection of immaculately refurbished Heidelberg Speedmaster, CDs and XL presses and RMGT presses in stock. WGM is the agent in Italy and Malta for RMGT presses (formerly Ryobi and Mitsubishi).
But the aims of the Association are also social, developing bonds of trust and friendship between dealers to assist in their trading together in absolute confidence. With this in mind Mauro and Alberto had organised a trip in the afternoon to the magical city of Venice, including a trip on the Grand Canal to the unsurpassed Rialto bridge and a relaxing session in a smart bar in the covered courtyard of an old palazzo. This was followed in the evening by a leisurely walk through the city via the wonders of St Mark’s Square to a restaurant on the banks of the Grand Canal where guests were served a sumptuous sea-food banquet, along with some of the best wines that this writer has enjoyed in a very long time.
Many of the members spent the weekend in Venice – blessed with sunny weather throughout. All agreed that it had been very useful as well as highly enjoyable, and had set the IGFA agenda for growing in size and influence to the benefit of the used printing machinery industry and of its customers.