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FLEXO Magazine : February 2011
FTA TODAY Dynamic New Forces in FTA Regional Networking Groups Hit Their Stride By David Lanska Everyone knows that trade conferences are expensive. While they certainly provide excellent opportunities to network and learn about advancements in technologies, processes and techniques; the costs for travel, food, lodging, event registration, and time away from the office all add up to a serious per capita investment. As a result, typically only top management gets to attend, assuming the busy executives can fit it into their schedules. This means that many of the people that would benefit most from the technical content pro- vided by these conferences- - press and prepress supervi- sors, press operators, press helpers, quality technicians and graphic designers--are left out. One way to rectify this is through participation in regional networking groups. Started as an initiative of the Supplier Leadership Council, the Flexographic Techni- cal Association’s regional networking groups were formed to make FTA programs and networking opportunities more accessible to the member- ship. Strategically positioned in geographic hot-bed areas of flexographic activity, the groups meet every two-to-three months, with speakers addressing pertinent and timely topics, technologies, innovations and best practices. greAT lAkes The first regional networking group, the Great Lakes Group (GLG), was started just over one year ago in the Milwaukee area. To date, the Great Lakes Group has met six times at various locations between Chicago, IL; and Green Bay, WI. Topics have included sustainability, G7, troubleshooting, motivating employees, training, Flexographic Image Repro- duction Specifications and Tolerances (FIRST) implementa- tion, high definition flexo, white inkjet proofing, Lean leadership, sleeve technology, press optimization, color theo- ry, automatic preprogrammed print control, advancements in plate technologies, and social media (LinkedIn, Twitter for business). Each meeting also includes a brief presentation about one of the FTA’s many activities, programs, promotions and technical/training resources. Thereisnocosttobea part of the group and only a nominal cost for attending the meetings. FTA mem- bers typically pay $10, while non-members pay $20 per meeting. Faculty and students with a school ID from local trade schools can attend at no cost. Proceeds from the meetings go to the FFTA Scholarship fund, which has already received more than $2,000 from the groups. Meetings are held in the afternoon/evening and last just a few hours. Mary Mekelburg, principal, Mekelburg Consulting LLC, offered a personal perspective. “As a participant in all except one of the Great Lakes’ meetings to date, I ’ve watched friends and colleagues who are happy for the opportunity to connect and re-connect in a local context. Student participation con- sisted of a design contest, and provided our future print profes- sionals an opportunity to rub shoulders with ‘print vets’ . Plant tours have showcased the vibrant, industry leading operations of printers (Lauterbach Group), suppliers (QuadTech), OEM’s (PCMC) and schools (Fox Valley Technical College, Harper Col- lege and Waukesha County Technical College). “Subject matter experts from within the FTA community presented key learnings and outcomes...Lauterbach Group was proud to share the design/build journey of the new LEED certified facility; PCMC documented how its Lean Jour- ney has resulted in a renewed and re-invigorated operation and shop floor. “From Kimberly-Clark, included in a January 2011 list of Top 10 Most Profitable Consumer Goods Companies, we received a clear call to ‘print by the numbers on all presses in every pressroom’. Sustainability did not go untouched. Channeled Resources delivered an insightful presentation on its innovative solution for the collection and very practical reuse of roll matrix. “FTA Great Lakes has delivered a Forum/Expo quality plat- form. Participants are high quality, qualified managers and representatives, capable and eager to work with printers to take their printing and pressrooms to the next level!” Similarly, Dolores Corcoran, productivity system manager, The Lauterbach Group, indicated that, “FTA Great Lakes net- working meetings are an awesome traveling meeting, where seasonal charm is embraced and the ease of participating is definitely a plus. I love the simplistic meeting afterhours ap- proach, industrial networking opportunities, and presentation experts; they share their knowledge and provide up-to-date trends and sustainable efforts at a minimal cost. “This makes attending the meetings fulfilling, rewarding, time and cash smart. The hosting facilities deliver welcoming meeting areas, while sponsors provide simple yet pleasing snacks. FTA Great Lakes meetings are valuable, rewarding, and beneficial all around! sOUTHeAsT Based on the success of the GLG, a second regional net- working group was started late last year. The Southeast Net- working Group (SNG) held its kick-off meeting in November, with some attendees drawn from as far as 250 miles away. According to Carol Harrison of CTS Industries, who chairs the SNG, “Attendees said that they are looking for hard facts to save money.” That is precisely what these groups aim to provide. Fashioned after the GLG, the Southeast group pro- vides similar technical content and a similar program format. As a result, its first meeting was a great success with about 40 attendees. TCFA A third regional networking group, The Twin Cities Flexo Association (TCFA) has been serving the Minneapolis/St. Paul region since March, 2003. Although the TCFA is a non-profit organization in its own right, it shares the same core prin- ciples as FTA’s regional networking groups. TCFA is an orga- nization, composed of professionals within the flexographic printing industry, devoted to raising the level of technical knowledge, professional ability, and personal enjoyment of industry colleagues. With a technical focus encompassing the entire gamut of processes and materials used within the greater flexo industry, the meetings center around: 1. Technical education of members, with regular meetings containing learning sessions devoted to spreading cur- rent information on printing, converting, and decora- tive processes. This information will be provided by a number of means, including presentations by suppliers, educators, and members. 2. Providing a neutral, open forum for airing issues and solutions within our mutual production environments. This will function to promote continuous improvement of our overall industry. Local & Familiar Benefits Bob Billings, job planner, for Smyth Co. , finds that attend- ing regional networking meetings, like the Twin Cities Flexo Association’s , is beneficial for several reasons. Namely: • Small group discussions regarding industry ad- vancements. • Opportunity to build a greater contact base within the industry by meeting the people who provide us our technology. • Awareness of what is being taught in our colleges to our future employees - the students. • Access to teach students through internship pro- grams. • Great chance to network with others, locally within our industry. “I enjoy attending the regional meetings where I can easily and quickly network with print industry professionals, with a minimal investment of both time and money. The presentations are either educational, or entertaining, (or often both).” Al Marquardt - Kimberly Clark Corp. 52 FLEXO FeBRuARY 2011 www.flexography.org FLX_Feb11_mech.indd 52 2/16/11 8:51 AM
Sustainable Winter 2011