Saturday, February 28, 2009

Reprographers MUST belong to the IRGA !!!

In a previous post I mentioned that both of the reprographics companies I was with were members of the IRGA.

And, I said in that post, "if you are not an IRGA member, you're not just a fool, but a complete idiot. I can't possibly tell you how much I learned from being a member of the IRGA. The networking experiences are truly invaluable."

In saying that, I wasn't trying to cute or funny or arrogant. I was simply stating FACT. If you're in the reprographics business and are not a member of the IRGA, you're an idiot. And, I don't care whether you are just beginning your career in the reprographics industry or are a veteran in the industry - - - regardless of your situation - - - if you are in the reprographics business and are not a member of the IRGA, you're an idiot. Well, I think I've said "idiot" three times in this post!

Over the many years I've been in business, I've been accused of being redundant. So what. There are lots of hard-headed people out there and those people, especially, need to hear the same information over and over ...... at some point the information might actually sink in!

So, what's so important about being a member of the IRGA? Well, one is never too old to learn (or too young to learn.) If, on an annual basis, you pick up even one tidbit of information from attending an IRGA Convention or from reading The Repro Report - - - that tidbit, depending on what you picked up, could be worth its weight in gold.

Simply and frankly put - - - the IRGA had an extremely positive influence on my personal success in the reprographics business and on the success that both of my former reprographics companies achieved, and I am very aware that had I not been a member (had my former companies not been members) of the IRGA, my success (our success) would not have been what it was. Not even close.

I hope that you achieve the success that you want. But, I can’t imagine anyone in this industry achieving a high level of success if they don’t take advantage of what the IRGA offers. In my first career in the repro industry, I joined a very small, family-owned business in 1970; our annual sales at that time, $90,000! By the time I retired from that company (we sold it in 1988), our sales had grown to more than $26 million annually. We grew slowly but surely between 1970 and 1979, but, things took off like a bat out of hell around 1979, which, coincidentally, was the year I attended an IRGA convention for the first time. Between 1979 and 1988, our business exploded (in a good way!) Getting involved in the IRGA (being a member of the IRGA) helped immensely with these issues; exposure to more vendors and better exposure to vendors, networking with other reprographers, learning and (later on) sharing strategic plans, business development and sales strategies, ferreting out acquisition targets, just to name a few. By the time I retired from my first company in late 1988, I probably knew (face-to-face, not just by name) close to 200, if not more, owners of reprographics business in the U.S., and all of the industry’s largest vendors knew me and my company. I’m like most people. I observe what others do, I learn from what others do and think, and, then, I try to emulate stuff I agree with and try to avoid stuff I don’t agree with. Membership in the IRGA was an extraordinarily valuable factor in my first career. And, that repeated itself, a second time, in my second career. After 8+ years of being retired, I was, in 1997, invited to join a reprographics company in the S.E. U.S. Annual sales at that time around $5.5 million. Prior to selling that company in late 2007, we had managed to grow that business to $23 million in annual sales. During my second career, I attended every IRGA convention, renewed friendships with those I’d met during my first career and made many new friendships with vendors and reprographics business owners I’d not previously met during my first career.

I don't know exactly how many IRGA Conventions I've been to in the 39 years I've been in and around the reprographics industry. Suffice to say, I've attended a bunch of conventions. Each convention can be broken down into three parts - 1) educational seminars and presentations, 2) trade-show / exhibits, 3) networking opportunities (during lunches, dinners, networking sessions and "after hours" in the bar, restaurants or wherever.) My favorite "parts" of an IRGA Convention are Parts 2 and 3. Since no one really likes to share the secrets of their success (and, since most won't), Part 1, the educational seminars and presentations, are sometimes useless - bunch of "generalisms", drivel, whatnot. But, during Parts 2 and 3, the networking opportunities, both with vendors and other reprographers, are tremendously valuable - - as some might say, "worth the price of admission" (worth being a dues paying member and spending the money to attend the convention.)

So, if you are in the reprographics business but are not an IRGA member (or have left your IRGA membership lapse), get a grip, join up (or renew) .... and give yourself (and your team members) the opportunity to learn and network. Late in your career, you will thank me (I won't be around by then, I'm already old, but, whatever....) for challenging your thinking on the issue of being an IRGA member.

In a future post, I will, if I remember to, talk about the value propositions of being a member in The PEiR Group or ReproMAX or RSA.

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