Friday, May 8, 2009

IRgA Convention (Apr/May 2009) - Notes and Comments

I attended the 2009 IRgA Convention in Pittsburgh, PA, last week, and, while I hate to put it this way, the mood (of attendees) was glum. Certainly the events of the past year – the design/development/construction experiencing a recession and reprographers, of course, feeling the recession as well - had a numbing affect on the mood of the attendees who did make it to the IRGA Convention this year; the number of attendees this year was well off last year’s IRgA attendance numbers (and well off the numbers from the year before last year); attendance at this year’s IRgA Convention was the lightest I’ve seen in many years. Perhaps part of the reason for that was the location of this year’s convention? Pittsburgh isn’t known as a major tourist destination. But, after having visited Pittsburgh last week – my first time there in probably 20+ years, I must say that the downtown area is quite interesting – beautiful riverfront – new sports stadiums – lots of interesting older buildings, with new ones mixed in.

Being out of the U.S.A. reprographics industry for now, I’m no longer a competitor of any U.S. reprographer. Nor am I an associate of any U.S. reprographer. I guess this makes me an “outsider.” One thing I have noticed over the past 4 or 5 years at IRgA Conventions – and I think this is unfortunate for the industry - is the growing “clique-ishness” of IRgA members who are members of reprographics industry “sub-groups.” The industry now has four different “sub-groups”:
• ARC folks (ARC management team and ARC folks who work for divisions and subsidiaries)
• ReproMAX folks (R/M management team and the folks from individual independent reprographers who belong to the R/M association)
• RSA folks (RSA management team and the folks from individual independent reprographers who belong to the RSA association)
• PEiR Group members (individual independent reprographers who are members of the ARC-owned PEiR Group)
Years ago, there was a lot more mixing of folks from different industry sub-groups. My observation, this year, is that it’s more a “them vs. us” mentality. ARC’s groups met before the IRgA convention started, ReproMax’s group met after the IRgA convention ended (I don’t know when the RSA group met.) I would like to say this, for whatever its worth (not much, huh)…… IF ONE OF THE MAIN BENEFITS OF ATTENDING AN IRGA CONVENTION IS THE OPPORTUNITY TO DO SOME SERIOUS NETWORKING AND TO LEARN FROM OTHERS (AND TO SHARE WITH OTHERS), then this trend towards “clique-ishness” is terrible. Message: Step out of your clique!; don’t ever think that the members of your clique know everything there is to know!

Okay, enough moralizing for now. Back to my comments about the convention - -

Of the educational breakout sessions at this year’s IRgA convention, the most interesting presentations (of course, this is just my opinion) were the ones given by Jim Ryerson of Sales Octane, Inc. and by KP Reddy of RCMS Group, LLC.

Unfortunately, I attended only one of the two presentations Jim Ryerson gave. (“Hi, I’m Joel Salus, ….and you are?”) I’m planning to follow up to find out more about what Jim’s company offers. The presentation Jim gave (the one I attended) was not just excellent, it was quite thought-provoking. And, it contained actionable information.

KP Reddy (of RCMS Group) gave a thoroughly thought provoking presentation about BIM. In my opinion, KP’s presentation was “worth the price of admission” to this year’s IRgA convention. KP’s presentation was given at 4:00 pm on Friday, last day of the convention and last educational breakout session of the convention – in other words, not a great “time slot” for a presentation – and, because of that, there were probably only 20 or 25 attendees in the room. Given what KP talked about, EVERY REPROGRAPHER IN THE COUNTRY SHOULD HAVE ATTENDED THIS SESSION. The fact that only 20 or 25 people heard what KP said, when everyone at the convention should have heard what KP said, is, in itself, quite interesting to me. Do we in the reprographics business really know what the effects of BIM will be on the reprographics business and industry down the road? Do we not care? Or, is this simply a matter of, “if we don’t want to hear what’s coming down the pike, let’s bury our head in the sand so we don’t have to hear it?” KP’s presentation was so thought provoking that I’m now working on a separate post about “BIM and reprographics.”

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