Industry Influencer: Thayer Long

Thayer Long, president of the Association for Print Technologies, will serve at the helm for two years amid its transition from NPES to APTech. Long believes APTech¬ís work is important to the customers and businesses they serve, but more important is knowing that they are in a unique position to have a positive impact on people’s livelihoods and well-being.

Thayer Long, president of the Association for Print Technologies (formerly NPES), has more than 20 years of experience in leading several industry-sponsored organizations and associations through times of change and transformation, specifically in the construction, finance and electrical industries. With his background, Long now has the opportunity to serve as president of the Association for Print Technologies (APTech) for two years.

How did you find yourself in the printing and imaging industry?

I started my career in publishing, working as a production assistant. My father also spent his career working in the packaging industry. When the position at the association became available, there was a natural gravitational pull that led me to apply and see where the journey took me. I could not be more thrilled on what the association leadership and the team I have the honor of working with has accomplished.

What role, under your leadership, will the Association for Print Technologies have in the industry?

Any industry is a community of sorts, and the printing industry is no different. We see a need, and thus an opportunity, to bring a far greater amount of alignment to the industry value chain. We believe an industry that is in alignment is one that is maximizing success and profitability for its participants. What does alignment mean? In essence, it means that the value chain partners believe and see how their goals or definitions of successful business outcomes are shared by their other value chain partners, especially those on either side of them. The complexity of printing and its vast array of applications – and also how printed products interact with other technologies – is demanding greater collaboration from the onset, and thus alignment.

How has the rebranding of APTech, formerly NPES, improved resources for your membership?

Our rebrand and vision announcement is just the beginning, not the end point. We have an 80-year legacy of which we are very proud, but there is an exciting journey still to be taken. Andy Grove, the leader of Intel, is quoted as saying “Success breeds complacency; complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.” What people can expect from APTech are two things: first, an unyielding drive to ensure what we are doing is relevant to the business outcomes of our member customers; and second, a much broader engagement with all aspects of the print value chain.

What challenges are you seeing in commercial printing, and how can APTech’s mission help alleviate them?

There are tremendous opportunities for the industry – but the most critical, in my opinion, is the opportunity for the industry to evolve itself. As our association manifesto states, printing is powerful, permanent and universal. It is arguably the single most influential and impactful movement on human history. As we evolve the industry into its next being, we need to do it in a unified fashion (hence the alignment focus as stated above). Our mission then will include convening the industry community through events and conferences – like our signature event PRINT – educating and providing actionable business intelligence for all components of the global print value chain, being an advocate for the industry in a more digital world and promoting industry standards that help advance the industry.

Tell me a little bit about the value of the APTech-managed organizations (GAERF, International Color Consortium and PRIMIR).

We offer great products and brands through the association. Our research program, which is known as PRIMIR, serves as an invaluable tool for industry members to gain insight into industry trends and to conduct forecasting. Our annual research and trends conference went through a major overhaul this year – and it now is known as the PRIMIR Insights Conference. Everyone should come to San Francisco in July! The International Color Consortium is a major platform for the ever-evolving area of color management, and one that is growing even more complex as the color gamut continues to expand as does the number of substrates that are now being printed upon. GAERF is home to our workforce development efforts, a number one issue facing almost everyone in the industry. GAERF is currently undergoing a robust strategic planning process, so everyone should stay tuned for more information.

What are your predictions for the industry over the next 10 years?

Wow, not sure I can predict that far out, but fundamentally we know the pace of change and technological advances is increasing, not decreasing. I believe in the industry, and therefore I believe in the next 10 years the industry will continue to evolve, adapt, lead and innovate itself. The applications of printing will grow. The value chain will be pushed closer and closer together. My hope is that people today heed this call to action, to change.

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