The importance of participating in industry peer groups

The importance of participating in industry peer groups

I’m curious to know if any printing company owners are aware of any industry peer groups – or perhaps you’re already a member of one. I’m asking because I’d be interested in knowing your thoughts. I was a member of two printing peer groups over the past 20 years. Personally, I think it was one of the best decisions I ever made. When alone and building your business, it can be very difficult and daunting at times when you’re required to deal with many things at once – such as human resources, sales and daily production oversight, to name a few. In our business, as you well know, everything is urgent, but there are only so many hours in a day. Even though you have great people working around you, it’s always you that they look up to for guidance. This is when it can become frustrating, and you may become exhausted and even depressed!

Like-minded people

This where my experiences with peer groups were so beneficial. There’s something to be said about sitting down with a group from your own industry who are like-minded individuals, and whom you don’t feel threatened by. In the beginning we ran meetings ourselves, then we all chipped in and hired an industry facilitator to manage our two-day meetings, usually held at a member’s facility. It was also the best way to see our production plants in operation. That’s not something that we get to do very often. Prior to the meetings, we would supply the facilitator with our financials for comparison at later time. During the meetings, we would discuss just about everything – lean manufacturing, HR, sales, marketing, purchases, equipment, everything financially related, industry reports and much more. Our only problem was that, sometimes, we all liked to talk at the same time – and that was, not surprisingly, somewhat less productive. But we absolutely valued each other’s insights and camaraderie.

Tremendous benefits

For me, the best way to describe it was uplifting and energizing. To be able to learn and share experiences and best practices with others was priceless. However, it wasn’t long after I started attending the peer groups, that I realized I needed to make some changes. I felt extremely empowered, as I was more confident having reviewed my plans with my group – not to mention I now knew whom to call with my own questions once I got started. I also felt more obliged to complete the tasks I had set out, because the group would continuously monitor my progress. This was “peer pressure” in a very positive and encouraging way.

These groups were not just about two meeting a year; they were about networking, relationships, learning, sharing and growing as a person and as a company. Bottom line: I would highly recommend joining any industry peer group or business group. There are some print associations and individuals that facilitate these groups. If you have any interest whatsoever, please drop me a line.

In the meantime, in the February issue, we ran a helpful list of popular groups that you can connect with. They’re worth repeating:

  • The Digital Imaging Association (DIA) keeps its member companies up to date with the latest information from our fast-changing industry by organizing regular meetings to help grow their businesses.
  • The Ontario Printing & Imaging Association (OPIA) serves Ontario, Quebec, and Eastern Canada with educational opportunities, special events, golf tournaments, a group safety program and an annual Excellence in Print Awards Competition.
  • All provincial printing industry associations across Canada.
  • Printing Industries of America (PIA) has been boosting the profitability of its members and the industry through advocacy, education, research and technical information.

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Warren Werbitt

A passionate printing industry veteran of 28 years (and passionate fisherman), Warren Werbitt will continue to ‘troll’ the industry, focussing on important and often controversial issues that impact printers. He can be reached at warrenwerbitt@gmail.com.