New Print Owners Group Hits the Ground Running
Flexibility and openness have allowed the National Print Owners Association—just four months old—to surpass membership expectations and sell out its first conference.
Only four months after its launch, the National Print Owners Association has already outpaced membership expectations—reaching 270 full-paying members earlier this month—continues to roll out new member benefits, and has sold out its first conference, scheduled for April 19.
John C. Stewart, NPOA’s acting executive director, is convinced this isn’t just a case of beginner’s luck. “There is a hunger, a desire, a need for the types of services that trade associations are uniquely able to deliver to members,” he said.
The 19 founding members of NPOA came together out of frustration over the lack of a trade group that best served their interests, Stewart said. The new organization focuses on the “quick printing” segment of the industry—generally small printers that use “the latest in technologies … to provide a broad variety of products and services on a fast turn-around basis,” according to the group’s website.
“Trade groups often end up being driven from the top rather than by the members,” he said. “It has been very difficult to get ideas that are worth pursuing, pursued by associations in our industry. We are working to be a resource our members can rely on and to deliver products and services that they can use.”
NPOA’s vision seems to have struck a chord in the industry, and the new association’s rapid growth caught Stewart and its other founders off guard.
“We realized that there would be a core group who would hopefully join as quickly because they knew who we were,” he said. “But we were totally unprepared for the response we actually got. In the first 10 days I was getting seven, eight, 10 membership applications [a day].”
When developing member benefits, the founding group initially relied on gut instinct.
“Almost all of us have been involved to one degree or another as officers or board members or volunteers in [other organizations], so we knew some of the things that we wanted,” Stewart said. “But one of the best things we did early on was to conduct a member profile survey to get more information about our members and ask why they joined the association.”
The results of the survey—which had a 75 percent response rate from the 150 members at that time—allowed the group to tailor their benefits to member needs.
“Where we’re different is we have a very loose structure for our association,” Stewart said. “While we have most of the normal functions of a trade group, we are trying to create a structure that is flexible enough to respond almost instantly to good ideas. And being incredibly flexible allows us to be a member-driven organization. If someone comes up with a good idea, we don’t need a formal vote by an executive committee or a board of directors; we can implement it and fine-tune it later, and that is what we’ve been doing since December.”