Industry leaders gathered to share ideas on all aspects of the wide-format digital print business.
By Anya Rao
WFX: Wide-Format Exchange brought together leaders in the wide-format printing community for two and a half days of education, networking, and discussion focused on the present and future of the industry. Attendees gathered at the Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel, The Depot, May 21-23, for the inaugural event, which was hosted by SGIA and ST Media Group (publisher of Screen Printing, Big Picture, and Signs of the Times).
In addition to speakers and moderated panels, WFX attendees were encouraged to network throughout the event. Industry-related lunchtime roundtable discussions, an evening cocktail hour, and a dinner reception at the historic Mill City Museum complemented the lineup of 18 educational sessions.
Along with presenters who are wide-format industry experts, WFX boasted an unusually strong focus on the buyers’ perspective, with panels featuring four major program decision makers as well as three brand-facing agencies.
The event kicked off with keynote speaker, Ryan Estis, CEO of Ryan Estis & Associates, who energized the crowd and emphasized the importance of implementing the takeaways from WFX immediately upon returning to work.
Kraig Kessel, co-founder of Kraido, a retail design and branding firm, shared “Why the Retail Store Is Evolving, Not Disappearing.” Kessel stressed the role signage and graphics play in helping retailers transform their environments. Despite the grim-sounding news about retail, Kessel mentioned that more retailers plan to open locations this year vs. close them. Customers want brick-and-mortar retail to be an experience, which opens the door for creative displays that present higher-margin opportunities for PSPs.
Soft signage and on-demand printing are hot topics at many industry events, and WFX continued the trend. A panel of experts discussed how textiles could fit into the wide-format digital print shop. Ron Gilboa, group director, production technology, Keypoint Intelligence; Kerry King, VP of research and development, Spoonflower; and Kirk Green, CEO of Ferrari Color, presented “From Soft Signage to Fashion, the Opportunities in Textile Printing Are Boundless.”
Gilboa said textile printing is a growing market, though finishing is a challenge to entry for some PSPs seeking to integrate textiles into their print shops. “If you can’t sew or finish the printed textiles, that’s a problem.”
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