Why the print industry in Canada absolutely needs a National Association

Firstly, there is so much we can learn from each other.

Individual businesses become stonger when they learn from peers, helping advance their workplace practices and application of new technologies. Stronger individual businesses in turn create a stronger, more resilient print industry. We have seen our fair share of challenging times over the past 20 years and right now, we are in the middle of an unprecedented health and economic crisis, one which no doubt have long-term effects on our industry. While we all take a moment of pause, take stock and prioritize what’s important, we have an opportunity to start working collaboratively together as an industry. We can learn from each other in order to help us weather the current and future ‘storms’ our industry will experience. And quite often, a clear skies and sunshine follow a storm!

Secondly, our industry is in need of new talent at all levels.

We need adaptive, technologically oriented production staff who will help our businesses become more productive and realize the full potential of the technologies available to us. We need nimble, creative problem solvers who can help us adapt our sales, service and management models that remove waste and add value to the customer experience. These young problem solvers are out there, and are graduating from a number of graphic arts post-secondary institutions. Yes, jobs are scarce at the moment with the economy in hibernation, but it will come back eventually and the need for businesses will only become more important. Attracting new talent is a critical part of the solution to help our industry adapt to these rapidly changing times.

Thirdly, we need a voice that can represent our industry at the federal level.

Looking at some recent industry statistics, our industry employs more than 50,000 people across 6,000-plus organizations. Our industry members work primarily in small and medium-sized businsess which represent the economic heart of the Canadian economy. The existence of strong regional associations with a formal connection to a national organization, is critical to providing a cohesive and representative voice for our industry to educate and influence the federal government of the day.

What is the CPIA doing to address these needs?

Is the CPIA effectively following through on the three opportunities identified above? Frankly, not to the level we would like! That’s for certain. Our board is a group of volunteers dedicated to making our industry better. We all want the CPIA to assume these key roles to take our industry to the next level. Our focus to date has been to set-up the organization for long-term success with the right structure, before we start on a path of specific initiatives. Like you, we’re also constrained by time and resources to move forward on the many initiatives we would like to see from our organization. But patience is a virtue, and we’re all confident that the right steps are being taken – even if they are initially small steps.

What we need is engagement from the industry.

Are you a part of a regional association? If so, do you see opportunities for improvement to the benefits you receive from your membership? What would you like to see from your national association? Are you willing to volunteer some of your time for the betterment of the industry? Please let us know by emailing admin@cpia-aci.ca.

The CPIA board will be actively working on developing stronger ties with our supplier community, as well as the graphic arts educational institutions in Canada in the coming months. We will also be looking at hosting a webinar later this Spring aimed at helping businesses with their COVID-19 responses. Thank you for taking the time to read this article (you made it to the end!). We’re very interested in ideas and input that will help the printing industry thrive, while providing customers with effective print communications across Canada and around the world.

Written by Richard Kouwenhoven, Chair of the Canadian Printing Association and President and COO of Hemlock Printers.