ISA Sign Expo 2018: Do More With Less

The word on the show floor? The sky’s the limit for sign shops and PSPs alike.

Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center played host to more than 20,000 attendees and almost 600 exhibitors across 221,000 square feet at the ISA Sign Expo March 22-24. The event caters to sign shops as well as wide-format print service providers – and those who straddle the line between both of those worlds. And perhaps those who straddle that line are the perfect illustration of what we heard repeated at the show: how can you do more with what you already have? 

Just like the employees of today are expected to accomplish more in a shorter time frame compared to employees of 15 years ago, we also demand more from the products we use in our own lives, from our smartphones to our cars. This applies to software and hardware in the print shop, too. 

With hybrid printers that can print on a variety of substrates flooding the market and software that isn’t just a RIP, but also manages color consistency and tracks productivity, the focus seems to be how to do more with less. Can you buy one product that can do it all? And can you do more with the products that you have to grow your business? 

There’s a push by manufacturers to create full-service solutions to offer products that eliminate steps, increase efficiency, and potentially remove the need for other equipment. 

The idea of doing more with less also applies directly to the sign shop or PSP. How can you diversify your product offerings to meet your customer’s needs and expand your profits? 

Nazdar SourceOne’s Glenn Shull, equipment product manager, said people ask why they print on water bottles and other items. His answer: 

Because we can. Print shops should ask, ‘What else can I do with what I have?’ Try to be a one-stop shop.

Among the wide-format manufacturers at the Sign Expo, the goal seemed to be to show sign shops and PSPs how they can diversify their business, without a lot of additional time, money, or effort. Applications – including lots of soft signage and interior décor –  were on full display at the majority of booths giving ISA attendees examples of how the available products can be used to expand their business. 

Innovation also played a part in this year’s tradeshow. New concepts on the show floor included clickable paper from Ricoh, a tour of EFI’s massive Nozomi single-pass printer via virtual reality, and small- and wide-format 3D printers from Mimaki and Massivit printing all-too-realistic figures to full-scale soccer players, respectively. 

Sign Expo Takeaways

  • “How can PSPs do more with less – and less waste – and at the end of the day, be profitable?” –Jonathan Rogers, international marketing manager, Onyx Graphics

  • “There’s a talent shortage. Being able to bring in the right people and keep them is crucial.”  Take a little time to learn how your employees tick, especially across generations. –Kim Lear, generational researcher, in educational session “Leveraging Generational Diversity”

  • “Sign shops should be print service providers. Why not offer everything? They know the design software, they know the RIP, and they know the machines and the media.” –Dan Wilson, marketing director, Roland DGA

  • "A way to save ink, and, in turn, money, is through color consistency. It makes it easy when you go to the printer because it’s ready to print. Software is a key factor to a shop’s success.” –Erik Strik, CEO, PrintFactory

  • "Soft signage continues to be a high-value application in the wide-format market." –Ken Hanulec, VP of marketing, EFI

  • “Software that doesn’t have AI is going to be passé in the next couple of years.” –Mark Blundell, CEO, SAi

  • “Décor is blowing up right now.” – David Prezzano, VP and general manager, graphics solutions business Americas, HP

And, as always, you can check out Big Picture and Editor-in-Chief Adrienne Palmer’s Twitter accounts for live updates from events around the world. And, follow Big Picture on Facebook and Instagram for videos and snapshots from the show floor.