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Remembering Bill Lamparter

March 16, 2017

By: Dennis Mason, American Printer Associate Editor and President, Mason Consulting

We learned this week of the passing of Bill Lamparter. Bill was a highly regarded industry consultant, observer, and analyst who played an active role in the printing industry as it evolved in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. He will be greatly missed, and the sympathy of the industry goes out to his wife, Ann, and his family.

Bill LamparterFor Bill’s obituary, click here.

I first met Bill Lamparter in the early 1990s, although I learned of him and his work as early as the 1970s. By the time we met, Bill had already been consulting a few years and I had only just begun doing so. Bill was particularly active in the Research and Engineering Council of the Graphic Arts, where he was the go-to guy when it came to bindery issues and plant operations.

A highly regarded observer of the industry, Bill was a dynamic speaker, and could reach the back row of an audience without a microphone. All through the 1990s and 2000s, he showed Comic Sans PowerPoint slides to attendees at R&E Council meetings, GraphExpos, and PRINT shows, discussing workflow, bindery issues, and the transition from offset lithography to digital.

The MustSeeEms and WorthALook competitions at GraphExpos and Print shows were Bill’s creation, and he took great pride in identifying important new products and industry trends. Bill was at IPEX 93 in Birmingham, England, where the Indigo and Xeikon printers were introduced; thus began his fascination with Benny Landa’s work, which continued until Bill’s death. Together, Bill and I attended every drupa from 1995 to 2012, and Bill was always on the first row of any presentation.

Bill Lamparter worked closely with NPES, PIA, and NAPL, using a gaggle of consultants he called the PrintCom Consulting Group. The result of that work was a shelf full of technical and marketing studies and reports that helped both printers and their suppliers navigate a rapidly consolidating market beset with often baffling technological changes. Suppliers large and small also came to PrintCom to learn how products could be distributed in the changing marketplace and what competition they might face. It was my privilege to work closely with Bill on many PrintCom projects.

In addition to his work for suppliers and associations, Bill Lamparter was a prolific writer. His byline was seen in industry trade magazines virtually every month, and he was often quoted in many other articles. He was a fundamental resource for graphic arts magazine editors needing to understand the subtleties of printing technology. For more than 20 years, no other industry observer had the credibility or authority of Bill Lamparter.

Computers were not Bill’s thing. Throughout his career, he was capably and quietly supported by his wife Ann, who typed and retyped his prolific dictation, sent and printed off his emails, and accompanied him to drupa and elsewhere so he could maintain contact with the world of print. Any tribute to Bill Lamparter must include Ann, who deserves a special place in the world of printing industry research and documentation.

By 2016, Bill’s health had begun to fail. He was unable to attend drupa last year, but spent a great deal of time debriefing me after the show, attempting to quench his insatiable thirst for information about changes in the industry. I cannot imagine how many times at the last drupa I was asked, “Where is Bill Lamparter? Is he OK?”

Today I’m sure Bill Lamparter is OK; busy reworking Heaven’s in-plant operation and reconnecting with other industry giants that preceded him. Our loss is Heaven’s gain. God Bless Bill Lamparter!

For Bill’s obituary, click here.

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