Features Associations Business
The value of associations

Association events offer unique opportunities to meet peers and find solutions for challenging issues

January 8, 2024  By Bob Dale

Darren Loken, Connecting for Results, Pat McGrew, managing director, McGrew Group, and her colleague Jonathan McGrew with Bob Dale (right) at the 2023 Printing United Expo.

Associations have evolved over the past decade or so to accommodate the changing needs and priorities of members and sponsors. Many of today’s associations struggle to balance the value propositions of community engagement and networking with resources for education and advocacy. In addition, members have conflicting priorities with work commitments, personal and family responsibilities. Successful associations have worked hard to adapt and deliver value to members.

Networking with peers, industry leaders, potential clients, and suppliers remains a key benefit of associations. Knowledge sharing for best practices, resources, technology, and shared experience is now conducted at in-person events and through online resources, collaborative meeting spaces and social media.

Advocacy combined with marketing and promotion activities and events help to identify and connect with entities and influencers who can help achieve the goals of the association and address issues of the membership. Using a combined budget to create a common message that can be distributed to target groups to create awareness about benefits of the industry can be effective.

Professional development and certification programs have been a major activity for graphic arts organizations with programs for colour management and sustainability initiatives.

In many cases, an independent party is required to address the need to deal with different equipment suppliers (i.e. JDF, CiP4) and industry stakeholders like printers, suppliers, customers and in some cases, government agencies.

There are several associations dedicated to the graphic arts industry. Here is a partial list for the Canadian print industry:

1.  Canadian Printing Industries Association (CPIA) members come from the regional affiliates, plus one sector association that include:

  • Atlantic Printing Industries Association (APIA);
  • Alliance Québécoise des Imprimeurs et Fabricants d’Emballage (AQIFE);
  • Ontario Printing and Imaging Association (OPIA);
  • Manitoba Print Industry Association (MPIA);
  • Saskatchewan Printing Industries Association (SPIA);
  • Printing & Graphic Industries Association of Alberta (PGIA);
  • Print Forward: Printing Imaging Association BC; and
  • PESDA: Printing Equipment and Supply.

2. Digital Imaging Association of Canada (DIA).

3. PAC Global – Packaging Association.

4. Sign Association of Canada (SAC-ACE).

5.  College and University Print Management Association of Canada (CUPMAC).

6. Printing United Alliance, merger of PIA and sign garment, textile, electronics, packaging association with a North American focus.

The benefits of associations have been well demonstrated this year with webinars, in-person meetings on current topics of importance from CPIA, DIA, Print Forward, and other groups. Trade shows returned this year with Graphics Canada in May, and the Printing United Expo in Atlanta, Ga., in October 2023. Both the trade shows presented unique opportunities to participate in informational seminars, hosted by industry experts and often with panels of users who are your peers and are willing to share their experience and best practices with different aspects of business and technology.

Connecting in person with industry experts and vendors from all over the world who bring their most experienced team to these shows is invaluable. We must not forget that these in-person events are a great opportunity to reconnect with colleagues and peers and make new friends with others we meet and network with.

Several academic studies have demonstrated that having a social network, which can include work associates also, is key to happiness and longevity. So, if you want to be happy, join us at the next trade show, webinar, or in-person event.

Bob Dale is vice-president of Connecting for Results, the premier management consulting company focused on the graphics communications industry. He can be reached at

This column originally appeared in the November/December 2023 issue of PrintAction.

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