Shane Drew of Brisbane based sign shop, Drew's Sign It reported on last week's VIIE show for Wide Format Online magazine.

Well, I paid my $345.00 for a one way flight to Sydney, for 3 company representatives to see Australia’s premier Sign Show. 


 Bob and Shane Drew

After picking up our vehicle at the airport, and taking 45 minutes to go about 10klm’s, we finally arrived at the convention centre.

On arriving, I have to be honest and say that I was a little disappointed with the numbers present when I walked into the show. Perhaps everyone was at lunch, I’m prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt, but it was not teaming with people looking to take advantage of the last chance to make good with the 50% tax incentives still on offer. I guess I was expecting more.

I should also clarify that I went to the show with the view of seeing what is on the horizon, as I am seriously looking at upgrading some machinery in the next 12 to 18 months. Like most business people I was also keeping my mind open to new opportunities, so it was not just a trip for the sake of having a taxable weekend off in the big smoke.

The one good thing about the small numbers when we got there was that sales staff were more available to talk. I asked just about everyone I spoke to the same questions. One question was pretty simple and to the point. How has the show been so far? Some exhibitors, who asked not to be named, said that Thursday was very good, but the Friday morning, before we arrived was dead. They hoped it would pickup on Saturday.

I’m sure the show organisers would wish me to clarify that shows such as the sign show are not flat out every hour of the day. And that is true. I attempted to explain that to one or two of the staff on the stands, but they didn’t seem interested. They were clearly bored at some stands.


 Rolls Roller on the Budde International stand

It was interesting to see the response to the new Rollsroller too. That is one serious piece of machinery. I’m not really sure if the display was too small, or the price tag is too large, but the gentleman on the stand had plenty of time to ponder the return on his investment for the show. I watched him for a fair while from a distance and he was not run off his feet with enquiries for the time I was there.  At SignUK earlier this year they had a full scale unit and you literally had to get in a queue to get a demo. They sold a few at that show too, so it was fairly successful for the UK distributors in that regard. Helps to have a bevy of gorgeous ladies to do the demo too I guess.

The Ezytaper had some opposition this year too, not something that has been too much of a problem for the Australian designed and manufactured unit in past shows. Warrick however was pleased to report that he had sold everything on his stand by Thursday evening. Warrick found that most people in the market were keen to get a bargain, and were not about spending money on anything that did not represent good value.

Of course, the big ticket items were well represented at the show as usual. HP were especially keen to showcase the new latex printer. Everyone I spoke to were well pleased with the results too, however nearly everyone I spoke to have real concerns about the operating costs. As one visitor said to me, ’’ its OK having an eco friendly print, but the power consumption to the heaters must be a negative in that respect’’. I must confess that I didn’t pickup on that initially, but clearly others did, because it was a main talking point amongst prospective purchasers and the opposition manufacturers.

The metallic printer from Roland  and the UJV160 were also getting some attention.  It will be an interesting time ahead for these companies to secure market share.


 Mimaki's UJV160 Hybrid


 Metallic print from Roland DG

Then of course you had the supplier representatives. I found it disappointing that Techink, Oracal, Spandex and 3M were not directly represented. Oracal and Techink were not represented at all, 3M were represented by their respective distributors and Avery were also present as well as their other distributors.

3M are moving away from the sign show structure and leaving the sales side to their distribution chain, then using the savings to concentrate on training and building better relationships.

Australian Graphic Supplies (AGS), the Techink distributors and NSW and QLD distributor for Oracal have argued for a few years now that the return on the investment is just not recouped at the sign shows. They were probably one of the first of the major suppliers to abandon the sign show format.

At the time of writing I had not been able to talk to Spandex, but rumour has it that the return on the Investment is also an issue for them.

MacTac probably had the best wrapping display, with the longest stretch hummer I’ve seen. The MPI1005 wrap was also an excellent display of the conformity of the material, as was the clear vinyl wrap by AVS using 3M material. I’d love to see something wrapped onsite that has some deep recesses though. That would be something worth seeing frankly.


 The AVS stand


 Avery's MPI 1005 being applied


 Mactac's Hummer getting a wrap

Probably the most notable difference to the show this year was the amount of sublimation printing and LED suppliers that seemed to be represented. Several new vendors were present too, which is always a good sign - no pun intended.

But, as a small businessman looking to expand, their was plenty on display that would give you ample opportunity to compare machines and costs.

Personally, for me it was Positive Camtec’s new Laser that almost swayed me to part with my hard earned cash.

Overall, the sign show was a good opportunity to catch up with what is happening in the industry, to keep abreast with present trends, and to press the flesh with others in the industry.

That said, $230 pp return airfares is an expensive trip for those of us interstate to fly into Sydney for the show. That doesn‘t include transport, accommodation or meals. Probably my biggest complaint with the show though is that it takes in two weekdays and only one weekend day.

After leaving the show, I paid my $30 for 3 hours parking and then got into the grid lock they call traffic, for my next appointment.

Shane Drew


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