Op-Ed by Harvey R. Levenson, Ph.D.. The joint venture between the Association for PRINT Technologies (APTech) and WhatTheyThink, in my opinion, is a “stroke of genius” and an example of how a association and a media organization may combine intellectual resources for the greater good of the graphic communication/printing industry.

“A stroke of genius”

The joint venture between the Association for Printing Technologies (APTech) and what they thinkis in my opinion a “stroke of genius” and an example of how an association and a media can combine intellectual resources for the greater good of the graphic communication/printing industry.

At a time when professional associations in our field are shrinking and/or consolidating, AP Tech and what they think created an expansion by combining the resources of an association and a media organization. This has the potential to reintroduce services that over the past decades have supported and influenced the growth and development of the printing industry through the work of three associations. My congratulations go to Thayer Long, AP Tech president and all AP Tech team, as well as Eric Vessels, what they think president, Adam Dewitz, COO, and vice president Kelley Holmes and to the creative team of what they think writers and other contributors, for this extraordinary development.

This announcement was made on June 15, 2022. However, I needed a few days to reflect on this development and what it might mean for our industry in the future. Here is my assessment.

“The Big Three”

I remember the days affected by the associations that I call, “The Big Three”, namely the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (GATF), Printing Industries of America (PIA), and the National Association of Printers and Lithographers (which later became the National Association of Printing Leadership (NAPL). GATF focused on research, testing, consulting and publishing. AIP focused on representation, advocacy, training and labor relations for the printing industry. NAPL focused on business management improvement programs, industrial economics and related fields.

These organizations had an active press reporting on each organization’s initiatives, as well as news relevant to the printing industry in general. I feel that the AP Tech and what they think joint venture has the opportunity to relaunch the kinds of services that have been so important to “The Big Three.” I am not suggesting the reintroduction of expensive and capital-intensive laboratories, personnel, and facilities that were previously necessary. Business is no longer conducted that way with the growing popularity of remote services. However, the industry still needs access to sources of research, testing, advice, representation and advocacy, training, labor relations, business management improvement, economics industry… and publishing! I see the AP Techand what they think partnership becoming the “one stop shop” resource for access to these services.

Exhibitions and industrial press

It is very important that other industry associations and publications maintain their relevance by continuing their specialized role in supporting the current and future development of the industry. For instance, PRINT United Alliance realized the need for major industry exhibitions that no longer exist, such as Graphic Expo and The print fair. News publications specific to industry segments such as, for example, those serving factories, packaging, publishing, digital imaging, as well as Printing Impressions, American Printer, Seybold/The Joss Group, Printing News (acquired by WhatTheyThink in 2018), Output Links, and many more, are essential to continuing to inform the industry as independent sources of news, opinion pieces and special features. The industry press is essential to informing its constituents with useful information for planning, decision-making and to be kept informed of the problems and the general direction of the industry.

The AP Tech and what they think alliance shows how an association and a media organization can work together to support the importance of all associations, publications and the whole industry.