Build Your Business:

The Benefits of SGIA Membership

All members receive the SGIA Journal, which publishes six times a year, and covers technical and business aspects of screen and digital graphics printing. Photo courtesy of

October 8, 2012

The Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) may be one of our industry’s most under-used resources.

A major cause of this is simply that busy, overwhelmed screen printers often do not make the time to check out all the benefits this organization has to offer. As an association member for nearly 30 years, I think the assistance and perks I’ve received from my involvement have more than compensated for the annual fee I pay.

When I first joined SGIA in the early 1980s, I had no plans to extend my membership beyond the first year. I simply wanted was the “80-pound” technical journal that came with membership.

This was before the Internet, Google and other search engines, and the glossaries, indices, expert articles and supplier listings contained within this journal made it an information mecca for silk screeners (as we were called at the time). Today, I’m still a member, and here’s why.

Resources Abound
That 80-pound technical journal and its archive of expert articles are now available to members in a lightweight version at The powerful search engine SGIA has built on its website can help members find answers to questions, solutions to problems, and suppliers or contacts for any product or outsourcing needs.

Best of all, this information is unbiased and vendor-neutral. There is no favoritism shown for one supplier or printer over another, as SGIA serves all its members equally.

You may think you can find the same information and resources by browsing Google and YouTube; however, you can’t always trust the information you find through these sources. SGIA’s web-only portal provides accurate, vetted information.

In addition, if you can’t quite put your finger on the term or keyword you’re looking to use to search the website; you can get in touch with the customer service staff to explain your need. More often than not, they will lead you in the right direction to find the information you’re seeking.

In addition to authoritative articles written for the graphic and sign, garment decoration, industrial application and graphics installer communities, SGIA also holds weekly webinars focused on burning topics for members to attend. These, like all other content, are archived on the site and available for members to watch after the original presentation date.

Discounts You Will Use
It’s common for an industry organization to offer product and service discounts to its constituents, and SGIA is no exception.

An SGIA membership also entitles you to shipping discounts through YRC (formerly Yellow Freight) and FedEx, electricity and natural gas savings through SGIA’s Energy Buying Program, reduced travel costs at Choice hotels and more. With YRC, you can save 70% on standard LTL freight, and with FedEx, the savings is up to 30%. Many companies that make the minimal investment in SGIA membership save thousands of dollars on their freight bills. (According to SGIA, the average 2011 YRC savings per member was $9,156, and the average 2011 FedEx savings per member was $9,957.)

One of the most valuable of the SGIA-affiliated discounts is found through training and certification programs like G7 from Nazdar.
G7 is a calibration methodology developed by IDEAlliance that enables different proofers, screen presses and digital printers to produce a similar appearance regardless of substrate, line count, ink type or printing condition.

Certifying you are G7-compliant is a door opener for many printers, as it assures your customers that you are capable of achieving consistent color and that you know how to calibrate and maintain your equipment.

Digestible Reports
In times when new government legislation or technology hit the printing industry, SGIA, similar to other industry associations and events, can help you get your head around the tech speak that can be hard to understand.

One example is the Consumer Product Safety Information Act (CPSIA) legislation, which SGIA has helped many apparel decorators decipher. The organization has acted as an intermediary translator between the government and the industry, taking government legislative reports that essentially read as a foreign language to me and explaining it in a user-friendly, down-to-earth way. The organization’s simplified explanations let us know what we need to be aware of when we print on apparel intended for children, for example.

Another example is the comparison reports SGIA has published on digital direct-to-garment printing equipment. While some screen printers may turn their noses up at this digital trend, it’s here to stay.

For printers looking to purchase the right equipment for their shops, SGIA has conducted comparison reports that do not favor one product line over another, but look at the realities of each machine and the kind of business environment in which it fits best.

The organization also gathers current, relevant information, and turns it into comprehensible reports and makes it available to members.

Supplier Listings, Customer Referrals & Networking
SGIA also produces a listing of all its supplier members, making it simpler to find a direct contact for, say, a new emulsion product. The association also has a printer referral network, which has helped me — as a contract printer — gain many customers.

To be listed in the printer referral network, all I had to do was go online and fill out a form that lists the services my company offers. SGIA, as a well-known source for finding quality printers, gets requests from the NFL, NHL, NCAA, MLB and others who call for printer recommendations. I haven’t tracked the referrals I’ve received, but I know my shop’s profitability has been significantly helped by SGIA’s listings pointing clients in my direction.

In addition to finding suppliers and customer referrals, SGIA also provides unique networking opportunities. The trade show enables newbie and veteran printers to hook up with peers who have valuable information and wisdom to share. There also are opportunities to become a committee representative and attend the organization’s Congress of Committees.

Once a year, the Congress of Committees (made up of about 200 members) meets with about 30 staff members from SGIA for three days to talk about issues relevant to the graphic, ink, chemical and computer components of the industry. This helps SGIA develop new training programs, focus their educational program sessions for the upcoming SGIA Expo and know which article topics they should have their expert writers direct their focuses toward. By meeting with its members and really digging into their interests, SGIA stays at the forefront of industry education.

All in all, belonging to SGIA is worth much more than the investment in annual dues. The opportunity for continuing education, access to endless resources and potential to gain new customers, paired with the useful discounts, make an SGIA membership worth the investment.

As I was told during my first year as an SGIA member, “You only get out of this industry what you put in and if you take the time to use the resources.” That tip, from former Screen Printing Magazine editor Susan Venell, has stuck with me. I find that SGIA is the vehicle that makes her advice come to life. Become a member, and be sure to take full advantage of all the benefits SGIA has to offer.

Greg Kitson is founder of Mind’s Eye Graphics, Decatur, Ind. For more information or to comment on this article, e-mail Greg at or visit