By DPS Magazine Staff
This Summer, thINK—an independent community of Canon Solutions America inkjet customers, solution partners, and print industry experts—gathered at The Boca Raton resort in Boca Raton, FL from July 17 to 19, 2023 for the annual thINK Ahead 2023 event.
The event drew a total of 395 live attendees, 52 percent of which were customers and prospects, and the rest were made up of press, analysts, partners, speakers, and Canon staff.
The thINK association and by extension the annual thINK Ahead 2023 event aims at connecting Canon inkjet customers with peers and companies that will help level up their print business, and solve individual challenges.
“The goal of thINK is and has always been to accelerate the success of all Canon Solutions America production inkjet customers. We do that in two ways, one of which is to provide deep dive educational sessions, tools, training, and resources—not only at the annual thINK Ahead conference but also 365 days a year on thINKForum.com,” shares Eric Hawkinson, executive director, thINK Forum. “The other is to build community, to facilitate the coming together of Canon Solutions America production inkjet customers, print industry experts, and partners to enable them to network and learn from one another, to share best practices and mentor those in their community. This is key to the secret sauce of thINK and what makes it different than other industry inkjet conferences.”
Canon Solutions America is the event’s executive sponsor, joined by many partners from finishing to media and workflow including BCC Software, Billerud, Contiweb, C.P. Bourg, Crawford Technologies, Crown Van Gelder NV, Domtar, Digital Substrate Solutions, DirectMail2.0, EF Cooling, EMT International, Finch Paper, GPA, Kelly Spicers, Magnum Digital Solution, Inc., MBO America, part of the Komori Group, Merlin, Midland Paper, Mintel/Comperemedia, Muller Martini, Neenah, One Vision, Pixelle, Plockmatic Group, Quadient, Racami, Rochester Software Associates, Roll2Mail, Solimar Systems, , Standard Finishing, Sylvamo, TEC Lighting, Inc., Techau, Trekk, Ultimate TechnoGraphics, Videk, VITS International, and WestRock. These vendors were on hand to answer questions throughout the event in the Partner Pavillion.
Mark Hunt, director of strategic alliances, Standard Finishing Systems, says thINK is an event that his company looks forward to every year. “It’s a world-class event where our team can connect with current and future Canon production inkjet customers to better understand their business requirements and pain points. The thINK board deserves high praise for building a world-class community and a space where users openly share their experiences and best practices.”
As a new Canon supplier/partner, Gerald Wilson, managing director, ef cooling US, Inc., says he was most looking forward to meeting Canon users and personnel and better understand applications for cooling Canon’s ProStream digital presses. “We also hoped to uncover new opportunities for our chillers within the Canon community,” he shares.
“thINK is always such a great homecoming of print professionals and Canon users,” adds James Tressler, VP, sales and service, C.P. Bourg Inc. “I always look forward to spending time with all of the attendees to re-invigorate my love of the industry. There are so many compelling conversations about workflow and automation processes that stem from complex projects.”
In addition to important updates from Canon Solutions America and opening presentations, attendees were excited to learn. The thINK Ahead 2023 event presented a variety of educational sessions designed to address the challenges industry leaders are facing today, including response optimization, workforce development and retention, postal regulations and opportunities, Wayfair tax compliance, sustainability, direct mail trends, and more.
Rob Tynan, VP of operations, OneTouchPoint, a Canon inkjet customer, is always looking for new ways to improve its business and processes, a few key sessions stood out as a way to meet these goals—Employee Loyalty and Retention, Create Career Pathways, and Leading Your Business to Success.
thINK Ahead 2023 concluded with two closing keynote presentations. Attendees first heard from Louis DeJoy, the 75th Postmaster General of the U.S., who delivered remarks centered around the Delivering for America plan, a blueprint for putting the United States Postal Service on a positive trajectory. This was followed by a presentation by Dusty May, Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Basketball Head Coach, who led the 2022 to 2023 men’s FAU basketball team to its greatest season in the school’s history, advancing to the Final Four. He shared insights on leadership, teamwork, and motivation styles that foster winning teams.
This year’s thINK event focused on education, networking, and of course—some fun. While the industry is facing some tough challenges, staying ahead of the trends and making connections that matter make a world of difference.
For Tynan, the generational differences and approach to management were a key takeaway of the event. “I have a staff of all ages and want to ensure that both I and the organization meet their needs,” he offers. “A week after returning from the thINK event, I formed a company ‘employee morale team’ to strengthen communication between our management team and associates.”
“Print is evolving. It sounds simple, but the complexities of the products printed today are rewarding their users with such an amazing impact. We know retention rates from educational material are better when delivered via print. Personalizaion, variable information, and ultra-customized products are easily produced in exceptionally low volumes. This alone is giving the industry such a plethora of dynamic applications from photobooks to out of print books and even personalized individual pieces produced as course packs for homeschooling or silver halide replacement photo booklets. Our users and their clients inspire the industry and motivate all of us to be more creative and deliver fully featured automated tools to propel the future of print,” comments Tressler.
“The state of our community is strong and growing. The simple fact is that Canon is producing world-class production inkjet equipment and our membership is continuing to increase due to the ongoing marketshare success they have driven. These members are bringing new energy that fuels the content and conversation delivered at thINK Ahead,” adds Hawkinson.
Hunt felt the thINK community was brimming with optimism and enthusiasm about the industry.” There was a real sense of community both in terms of putting heads together to analyze some of the challenges facing the industry and in the sense of building relationships and enjoying the time spent together.”
Overall, Wilson found thINK Ahead 2023 to be a well-done event, worth its time participating. “thINK has done a great job creating an open, collaborative community that is interested in new ideas and better ways of doing things,” he concludes.
It’s a Wrap
While the 2023 thINK Ahead forum is over, the resources are still building. Canon inkjet customers and prospects are invited to check out thinkforum.com for a range of tools separate from the annual event. Mark your calendars as thINK Ahead returns to The Boca Raton next July 15 to 17, 2024.
Aug2023, DPS Magazine