FLEXO: It’ll be 100 percent flexo during Forum 2019’s technical sessions, but at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, INFOFLEX 2019 will be packed with exhibitors offering hybrid and digital solutions, too, for all segments of the package printing and converting industry. After a morning sitting and listening, why is it so important to walk the show floor and talk to exhibitors?

Michaud: INFOFLEX offers the opportunity to speak to suppliers from all parts of the industry under one roof. It allows attendees to not only see and gather information on the newest ideas and products, but also a chance to have their questions answered. And it’s a great opportunity to network and catch up with colleagues and friends.

Welter: Steps—We all need to get in our steps after sitting all morning. INFOFLEX offers the unique opportunity of having a large number of diverse vendors in one place. It provides each attendee with the ability to address known issues and opportunities, find advancements they can apply to their operations, and see new technologies they can integrate to take their operations in a new or improved direction.

FLEXO: INFOFLEX attendees come from different segments—like flexible packaging and folding carton—and have different roles and responsibilities—like production operations and upper management. Is exhibiting as much an opportunity as attending is?

Michaud: Yes, absolutely, exhibiting at INFOFLEX has all the same benefits to the exhibitor. INFOFLEX draws attendees from across the industry and across functional responsibilities, making it a great place to reach the broader flexo community. It gives exhibitors the opportunity to reach new and current customers and have meaningful face-to-face discussions, demonstrating the value of current and new offerings. It’s a great way to connect.

Welter: During INFOFLEX, exhibitors are presented with an opportunity to hear the voice of the customer from various segments and apply the questions and comments from one customer and group to the next. The value of having this large of an audience in one location is immense, combined with the opportunity to learn the trends and needs of customers and identify many new and expanded opportunities for the coming year.

FLEXO: Printers of flexible packaging, labels, corrugated direct print and folding carton will find well over 150 exhibitors catering to each segment. Why is it important to talk to every vendor?

Michaud: Many of the exhibitors have technologies, products and services that reach multiple print segments. By visiting every exhibitor at INFOFLEX, you will find solutions that have cross-over between segments. It’s really a great place to expand your awareness of technologies and trends in flexo.

Welter: We are all busy, and it is often hard to carve out the time to meet with current suppliers, let alone review new technologies. Having all of these key players in one location allows you to find all the offerings that will meet your needs. Often, attendees learn about new solutions that can improve their process and that they can adopt from another segment. There are solutions on the show floor you may not even hear of unless you are at INFOFLEX.

FLEXO: The newly named Innovation Central—formerly the Solutions Theater—will have more than a dozen presentations over INFOFLEX’s two days, each delving into a topic hot in the industry and showing attendees where the latest technologies available to them can be put to use. What are the benefits of sitting in on those presentations?

Michaud: Innovation Central is a chance to hear about some of the industry’s latest technologies and trends. It’s another way to gather information and get as much as possible from the two-day event.

Welter: Innovation Central gives the opportunity to dig a little deeper and truly understand how these technologies function and apply them to your daily workflow. As with so much of Forum, it is about taking full advantage of your opportunity so you can provide the biggest impact when you return to the office.

Event Highlights

FLEXO: Forum 2019 starts May 5, but attendees who arrive Saturday can enjoy “all golf, five hours of the day” at the Emerging Leaders Golf Outing. The generational gap in our industry is something talked about often; how does the Outing help to bridge that gap?

Michaud: It’s a fun and relaxing event that allows everyone to socialize and have some fun. It’s an informal atmosphere where we can meet new members of the industry as well as see colleagues we’ve known for years. These connections are what FTA is all about. It’s a perfect way to kick off Forum 2019.

Welter: Despite what some will claim, we’re all flexographers first and golfers second. There is no shame in having even a triple-digit handicap. The Emerging Leaders Golf Outing brings together 100-plus flexographers who are interested in supporting the next generation of this industry. The event allows it to happen over 18 holes and some food and drinks.

FLEXO: Great printing, impactful technologies, sustainable business and dedicated individuals—these are all recognized at Sunday evening’s Awards Banquet. For anyone who has never been inside the ballroom when winners are announced, what’s the feeling like?

Michaud: Exciting, with those honored showing pride in their achievements in terms of print quality, innovation, and long-standing service and contributions to the industry. The Awards Banquet is a time-honored tradition to recognize and celebrate the successes of those who continue to drive the industry forward.

Welter: A feeling of anticipation and appreciation—Enjoying a meal with your team and others from the industry provides an excellent venue to celebrate the accomplishments and hard work of the entrants over the prior year. While the competition is real, the support shown as the winners are announced is very real. Everyone appreciates what each winner has accomplished.

FLEXO: Attendees can talk about the winners at the Awards Banquet, the technical material presented at Forum, the products and services on display at INFOFLEX, and anything else on their minds at the Monday Evening Social. And they can do it while enjoying free hors d’oeuvres, live entertainment and a relaxed atmosphere. How does the Social complement the other events across the four days?

Michaud: The Social is a time to catch up with colleagues you may not have connected with yet, or to introduce yourself to some new faces. It’s simply a great finish to the day, a relaxing venue to talk shop and have some fun!

Welter: Networking has always been one of the top-rated benefits of Forum & INFOFLEX. We all enjoy our time together, and it helps to renew our energy and our passion for flexo as we see and hear of all of the past year’s events and where each of us are heading in the year to come.

“There are times when we become distracted by the things we don’t have or can’t do. These distractions can lead us to miss out on great opportunities that are right in front of us. By focusing on all flexo, we are communicating the positives and the possibilities, and showing how our customers and our members can drive flexo to be the distraction for others.”

Forum 2019 Co-Chair Hank Welter

What It’s All About

FLEXO: Forum’s return to New Orleans breaks a 22-year absence from the city, and for some that might be reason enough to attend the 2019 event. What about Forum 2019 makes it a must-go for all flexographers? Regardless of where we’ll be talking “All Flexo, All of the Time,” why is it so important press operators, prepress personnel, managers, executives—anyone and everyone who is a part of the industry—hear what’s going to be talked about?

Michaud: Everyone, regardless of his or her functional role in the process, will come away with useful tools and information. It takes all functions within an organization to be successful. Gaining a clear understanding of our customers’ expectations, understanding the tools that are available in new technologies, hearing from our emerging leaders, seeing real-world examples of how to implement FIRST , practical troubleshooting of common print defects with real-world examples of how to determine causes and solutions—Forum 2019 will bring it all together so every printer can implement these tools to improve and deliver the print results brand owners demand.

Welter: It’s relevant topics covered by industry peers and supply partners; it’s the opportunity to learn from current research; it’s the introduction to the best and latest technologies flexo has to offer at INFOFLEX. Couple this with the ability to connect with industry colleagues both new and old, and the location becomes a bonus, not the major draw.