After Dry Spell, Crowds Return to Nexpo

By: Mark Fitzgerald and Jim Rosenberg

Kansa Technology President Ron Swint isn’t just a veteran of numerous Nexpos. He enlivened the annual equipment exhibition through the 1980s by employing statuesque models to hand out brochures for the company’s mailroom equipment.

The so-called Kansa girls are long gone, and for the last few years, customer traffic also disappeared. Yet Swint was clearly in an exultant mood here at this year’s Newspaper Association of America (NAA) show, the first to be combined with the SuperConference technology seminars. He and another original Kansa owner, Jerry Waddell, along with Vektek Inc., were there for the first time since they bought back the company assets from Baldwin Kansa Corp. Their new Twister Multi-Feeder handles slick, one-page inserts and adds pockets to circular inserters without moving the equipment.

“This show has been excellent,” Swint said on the show floor. “This is the best Nexpo has been in the last couple of years.”

An NAA spokesperson said final figures to be calculated later this week will show attendance exceeded 2,800 — an increase of nearly 18% over last year. One reason: attendees like Jerry Epling, production director of The Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, W. Va., who was looking for a labeler. “I haven’t been here the last couple of years, but I was ready to get back now,” he said.

Like Epling, most were traveling solo, Wifag Press Co. Sales Vice President Joe Ondras noted. “They used to bring the whole production department,” he said. “Now we see single people, but they’re the big hitters for the companies.”

Four dozen vendors showed up for their first Nexpo. From Montreal, Ixiasoft came to promote extensible markup language (XML) technology it licenses to systems suppliers. Ixia sees the market recognizing XML’s importance in managing content for multiple-media environments. Mactive said it will use Ixia’s native XML storage and retrieval for ad archiving and Web-based delivery. Ixia brought representatives from Spanish editorial system partner Ailink and French content-management partner Eurocortex. “Let’s push our best solution in Europe in the North American market,” said Sales and Marketing Vice President Jean-Paul Chauvet.

XML occupied much time on and off the show floor, including sessions on AdsML, a global standard for exchanging information for all types of advertising, across all media at every step of the advertising workflow.

Other first-timers included: Southern Lithoplate, promoting thermal platesetting and participating in discussion of plate type, manufacturing capacity, pricing, and operations; Citgo Petroleum Corp., with press-oil sales and testing and a “one-stop shop” of lubricants for vehicles, compressors, and other newspaper equipment; Hart Freeland Roberts’ HFR Media Group, encouraged by Gannett Co. to exhibit to gain wider exposure after handling only Gannett projects since 1990, including The Courier-Journal upgrade and expansion in Louisville. Citing fewer competitors for newspaper work, Stephen P. Griffin, principal in charge, saw continuing strength in the down market.

Anticipating an economic upswing and looking to change its approach to Nexpo, Ron Ehrhardt, sales vice president of George R. Hall Contracting, said the press rebuilder invested in a completely new, bigger booth, like that of Nexpo neighbor Dauphin Graphic Machines. He liked the numbers in Las Vegas this year, but lacking enough fresh leads from recent Nexpos, he sought an even higher turnout.

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