Jun 13, 2013
The Tiara Group Toner 2013 Conference was held June 3rd & 4th, back at its original long time location at the Fess Parker DoubleTree Resort in Santa Barbara, CA. This resurrected conference has a long history and several changes in ownership.
It was the Diamond Toner Conference for many years and attracted OEMs, toner and drum producers and a range of suppliers of raw materials such as resins, carrier cores and colorants. Eventually the Tiara Group took over the conference with Art Diamond still serving as chairman. When the recession hit the conference was moved from the Fess Parker Resort to more affordable accommodations in Marina del Rey, CA. But attendance continued to drop and the conference was sold to Pira Research which held the conference once before giving it up.
There was no toner conference in 2012 but for 2013 Art Diamond and the Tiara Group pulled the conference together again returning to the Fess Parker Resort.
As a longtime attendee and presenter at this conference, I was glad to make the old drive up the Ventura Highway from LAX, through the newly charred hills from the recent wildfires north of Los Angeles to the seaside city of Santa Barbara. The palm trees looked a bit brown around the edges but the blue Pacific Ocean is still where it’s always been.
It was nice to see the faces of the same people who seem to come to this show every year. Given that the conference had taken a year off, I was hoping to see a rebound in attendance and I suppose that 60 people including staff and presenters was an increase over 2011.
The conference itself continued to be an eclectic mix that I’m not quite sure mixes well.
The mornings were market focused. Forecast trends provided by yours truly of InfoTrends, and other market topic by other consultants on issues such as what page inkjet will do to electrophotography, recent lawsuits, what’s up with printer sales, toner production in China and so forth. None of us could resist talking about Clones, Clones and more Clones, the impact of intellectual property lawsuits, and decisions or non-decisions by the US Supreme Court. The afternoon on the other hand was a radical shift to technical topics such as pigments for color toner, silica and metal oxide additives and different approaches to bio resins for toner.
Attendance was very heavily weighted towards the technical side with a spattering of scientists from OEMs and then many representatives from the raw materials side.
Personally I’d like to see more attendance from the OEM and supplies marketing and market development side as the program is developed for 2014. But that’s not the history of this conference and while attendance has dwindled from 20 years ago, it’s the technical folks who appear to be the ones who come year after year.
I needed to do some other work so don’t tell my boss but I skipped the sessions on metal oxides and new resins for bio-toners.
Tuesday afternoon driving back toward Los Angeles, this time by the coastal Highway 1 to avoid the traffic mess at the confluence of the 101 and the 405, I considered what I would do to change the toner conference to attract more people and more people that I, as a market research and consulting guy, would like to see present.
I don’t know. I’m sure that Tiara and Art Diamond don’t want to nix their core attendees, the technical folks. But I’m not sure that long term 60 people including speakers and staff is a sustainable conference. It would be interesting if the Chinese clone producers could be induced to attend and present. Maybe what the conference needs is some controversial pot stirring. But regardless, I’ll plan to be back again in 2014 – if this blog doesn’t make the Tiara Group too angry with me.
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