Longview: Our Great Wraps Community

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I love to see when good people come together and work for a common good. I’m not talking about people coming together at church-where you sort of have to be good-I’m talking about people coming together who might otherwise not ever wish to meet. It’s a rare thing.

And it’s even more rare to see this kind of spirit alive in a business setting.

Back in the early ’90s when I was a reporter for a natural foods industry magazine, I witnessed competitors representing the organic foods industry actually come together, go to the USDA and ask for help developing federal standards for organic food production. These were independent organic farmers, ranchers and dairy men, food processors and certifiers-who had been competing against each other for years using various state and local organic standards-actually requesting a set of regulations from the federal government. It was unheard of.

But those farmers knew that in order to gain the trust of the general food-buying public, the stamp of “USDA Organic” would go a long way toward helping open the doors to much wider markets. They came together and ironed out their differences to help grow their industry, and it worked.

Anyway, this all came to mind because of what I’ve been seeing lately in the wraps side of our industry. No, wrap installers are not asking for federal standard regulations. But yes, they are coming together, and for a common good. These are people competing for share in a market that is getting bigger than anyone ever imagined, and their spirit is to be admired.

I see them coming together for wrap competitions, in installer networks, on social media, at industry specific events such as WRAPSCON and at other large industry trade gatherings. And why do they come together? To learn, to teach, to network and to help others further open the wraps market. Manufacturers see this unique spirit and are responding with more wrap competitions, improved installation education training and a growing field of products.

Recently I had the distinct honor to be asked to attend (and do a presentation) at the inaugural three-day 3M Wrap Summit event, held at the company’s installation training center and research facility in St. Paul, Minnesota. The 47 attending wrappers were among the top-rated professionals in the country. And it was quite rewarding to see them interact with each other as energetic and collegial competitors and, yes, as friends.

The event was a well thought out educational effort-a two-way learning experience where wrappers learned the latest business tactics and wrap techniques, and our host received valuable direct unfiltered feedback on some of the company’s newest materials.

I enjoyed the camaraderie, and I learned a lot. But beyond all that I was filled with renewed respect and awe at the great community of talented wrap installers and shop owners who are coming together to help grow the industry.

Okay, back to work.

Ken Mergentime

Ken Mergentime is the former executive editor of Sign & Digital Graphics and WRAPS magazines.

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