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Spotlight: Richard Kouwenhoven of Canadian Printing Industries Association

November 14, 2018  By PrintAction Staff

In October 2018, Canadian Printing Industries Association (CPIA) launched a newly restructured printing industry association in Canada. Proposed by its Board of Directors and ratified by its membership this past March, the CPIA intends to operate under a new membership structure to help unify the industry.

Six regional print associations and one supplier association make up the CPIA members – PrintForward Printing and Imaging Association, Printing and Graphics Industries Association of Alberta (PGIA), Saskatchewan Printing Industries Association (SPIA), Manitoba Print Industries Association (MPIA), Ontario Printing Industries Association (OPIA), Quebec Association of the Printing Industry (AQII), and Printing Equipment and Supply Dealers of Canada (PESDA) – with one or two representatives from each association making up the Board. PrintAction spoke to Richard Kouwenhoven, President and Chief Operating Officer of Hemlock Printers Ltd. in Burnaby, B.C., who serves as Board Chair.

What does the relaunched CPIA hope to achieve?
RK: The association has continued to exist over the decades, but its activity has dropped off substantially in recent years and needed to take a new direction. When the relationship between the CPIA and the regionals started to break down, it became really challenging for the CPIA to succeed, and ultimately was the core of its problems. In late 2016, the new board picked up the leadership of the CPIA and began major restructuring of the association. The new structure focuses on the idea that the CPIA exists to connect the regional associations. One of the biggest changes is that the CPIA members are the regional associations themselves, and the printers become members of the national association through their respective regional association. With all active regionals on board, we look forward to adding an Atlantic Canada association, which we expect will be completed by the end of the year. We hope that by 2019, we will have true representation from across the country.


Because the association is made up of members of each regional, we are the membership — our focus is on what the CPIA can do to add value to the membership of the regional associations. We want to build initiatives that connect industry stakeholders, suppliers and educational institutions for the long term, rather than having each individual region do this work on their own.

There’s lots we can do when the member associations come together and act in a coordinated way, from scaling initiatives across the country at a lower cost to working with national suppliers.

What are some top agenda items for the CPIA?
RK: Right now we are setting our priorities. We will be establishing a framework that allows us to work with post-secondary educational institutions in Canada and that will begin over the next few weeks. We will be reaching out to these schools for their ideas on how we can work together and foster a stronger relationship. Second, we’re working on a framework that will allow us to better work with national suppliers, helping them roll out new products and letting the industry gain access to new technological and product developments. Third, we are setting up a government affairs committee that will determine CPIA’s positions on various federal level issues, such as trade and foreign market affairs.

In your opinion, what are the top challenges facing the industry?
RK: Attracting high-quality talent in leadership, administrative and customer service as well as production positions is one of our biggest challenges. Luckily there are a number of schools that are attracting students and bringing high-quality graduates to the industry but I think the need for that is only going to increase. The pace of technology continues to be very fast, and the need for our industry to adapt to rapid technological changes continues to be a major pressure that requires planning and investment. There is also major consolidation happening. As demand for printed products continues to change, the number of suppliers, printers and paper manufacturers is also changing — printers need help navigating these big changes in market dynamics.

While there are issues and provincial laws unique to each regional association, our challenges and opportunities are more commonly shared than they are different. The more we can work together as an industry, the better the health of our industry. This will not only give us the opportunity to be technology leaders within our country, we will be able to capitalize on export opportunities.

This Q&A was originally published in the November 2018 issue of PrintAction, now available online.

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