The Tushar Dhote Column: The Pamex journey - Two months to D Day

Last week, Tushar Dhote traced the history of Pamex and his observance of the event till 2015. In this second edition of his Column, Dhote shares his experiences of the following two editions and how the Pamex team took steps to address specifics required to sustain excellence

20 Jan 2023 | By Tushar Dhote

Dhote: If there was a slowdown, it did not show at Pamex 2020

I had the honour and privilege of serving as the chairman of Pamex 2017 during the presidential year of G Ashokan (2017-18).

It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional career. It provided an excellent opportunity to gain insights into the workings of the printing and packaging industries while networking with industry professionals.

We continued with our strategy of conducting roadshows all over the country to promote Pamex 2017 with a specific focus on the West and South. 

Pamex 2017 – the blooming show
Kamal Chopra, chairman-international relations (AIFMP), leveraged his contacts in China to ensure the direct participation of a reasonably large contingent of Chinese machine manufacturers. Additionally, the presence of the Japan Printing Machinery Association (JPMA), which had ventured into India for the first time, enhanced the show's growing international profile. The event eventually became the largest Pamex till then, in terms of the number of exhibitors and the square metres sold.

The National Awards for Excellence in Printing (NAEP), the other important event of AIFMP, was co-located alongside Pamex for the first time. The Printers' Guild, Nagpur, was tasked with organising the event. Spearheaded by Arvind Mardikar, honorary secretary, AIFMP, the lavishly organised event at the lawns of JW Marriot was a huge success and added to the stature of Pamex as a complete industry event. 

Held under the shadow of months of uncertainty due to the implementation of the new GST regime, Pamex 2017 portended a bullish industry in the coming year as the curtains came down on a successful event with a record 25,223 visitors and reports of unprecedented on-the-ground business happening.

Kamal Chopra's plan for Pamex 2020
The 2020 show, under the chairmanship of Kamal Chopra, introduced an innovative concept for the promotion of Pamex called the Print Odyssey - a roadshow on wheels and also took it beyond Indian borders.

Chopra travelled extensively in a car promoting the Pamex 2020 exhibition covering the state of Uttar Pradesh into Nepal. Over two weeks, the journey covered the neighbouring country's grassroots towns from west to east, interspersed with a grand event at Kathmandu which was attended by hundreds of printers.

The Print Odyssey then covered the states of Maharashtra, Andhra and Kerala with equal vigour. The roadshow was very well received - and the smaller associations in the towns - getting involved in the activity. Printers got to know about new technology and product launches that they could witness live during the show.

For the first time in the country, AIFMP hosted the World Print & Communication Forum (WPCF) conference. This event saw delegates joining from all over the world as well as prominent speakers from India, Japan, South Africa, China, Belgium and the USA. Held on 8 January 2020 - the conference's topic was - Redefining printing: brainstorming with world leaders.

The Pune Press Owners Association hosted the NAEP under the leadership of Ravi Joshi, president of PPOA. The awards also included the prestigious Viren Chabbra Print Leadership award that had been instituted to honour Viren Chhabra's legacy of a lifetime of support and accomplishments for AIFMP. Narendra Paruchuri of Pragati Offset, Hyderabad, received the prestigious award.

Successful Pamex 2020 before Covid
If there was a slowdown, it did not show at Pamex 2020, hosted at the Bombay Exhibition Centre in Mumbai from 6-9 January 2020. As the curtains came down to the most successful edition of Pamex, the industry seemed bullish on the growth of printing and packaging in India. The show saw more than 32,000 visitors, with Day 3 seeing, for the first time, more than 10,000 unique visitors in a day. The next edition of Pamex, in 2022 was announced during Pamex 2020, but none knew what was to follow. 

Two months later, the world had come to a standstill as the Covid-19 pandemic engulfed one country after another. As businesses faced unimaginable stress and closures, events and exhibitions worldwide were postponed or cancelled. Keeping the health of the exhibitors and visitors paramount and waiting for travels across borders to stabilise, the Pamex team decided to postpone the next edition of Pamex to March 2023. Even as there were faint signs of things returning to normal at the end of 2020, the second wave was upon us, shutting the country in mid-2021.

As things started opening, it became evident that the Covid-19 pandemic impacted printing significantly. New trends were apparent. Commercial printing moved from quantitative to qualitative, reducing volumes in print and moving towards digital printing. The emerging markets and trends followed towards quick and flexible packaging solutions. Several small start-up companies had sprung up with many people working from home who needed swift, effective, inexpensive packaging solutions.

Changing technologies and commercial demands around us drove innovative solutions. We looked carefully at these to detect a distinct trend that we decided to focus on and adopt as a theme - Convergence in print. An entire hall exhibiting equipment and applications that resonated with this theme was mooted.

(Tushar Dhote is co-chairman of Pamex, and director, Dhote Offset Technokrafts. This is the second in a series of weekly Tushar Dhote Columns, which will continue till the Pamex show will be held from 27-30 March 2023 in Mumbai. In his next, Dhote will tell how the Pamex team has been travelling across the length and breadth of India. Stay tuned in…)