Embracing Change: Insights from the “Old Dog, New Tricks” Panel at the NPSOA Spring Conference

Written by Paul Strack
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Let’s face it, I’m not getting any younger. And neither is the industry that pays my bills. I often joke that the printing industry is the world’s second oldest profession.  But fear not; there is hope. And it was discovered at the recent the National Print & Sign Owners Association (NPSOA) Conference in New Orleans.

Amidst a sea of familiar faces, many whose heads are grey or bald, there was a refreshing sight—a youth movement.

For the first time, NPSOA made a deliberate effort to welcome new, young owners and key employees of printing and sign shops. The result? Over 20% of our 100+ attendees were under the age of forty!

Michael and I had the privilege of being part of a panel discussion titled “Old Dog, New Tricks.” The panel brought together seasoned owners and their successor offspring. We delved into topics ranging from what each generation has learned from the other to the habits that irk each group.

What struck me most during our conversation was the mutual learning taking place. The younger generation continues to lead the charge in adapting to and leveraging technology. They’re not just improving business efficiency but also advocating for a healthier work-life balance. Unlike many of us older folks, they prioritize personal connections over the constant grind, recognizing that the most significant impacts often come from outside the office.

Yet, the “get-off-our-lawn” crowd was quick to highlight the younger generation’s unwavering commitment to their work. Once they commit to a task, you can bet it gets done—a trait worthy of admiration.

On the flip side, the younger participants have gleaned the importance of personal connections from their predecessors. They understand the value of nurturing both lifelong friendships and fruitful business partnerships.

One of the standout moments occurred when the moderator posed the question, “Can you teach an old dog new tricks?” One panelist, whose name I’ll keep under wraps for now, simply replied, “Well, it depends upon the temperament of the dog!”

Indeed, the kids are all right.