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ISM Article

Tying The Knot

9 Jul, 2007 By: Sand Sinclair imageSource

Tying The Knot

Doesn’t the term, "to live happily ever after" mean two people riding off
into the sunset to begin a life together full of promising new expectations?
Yes, I thought so. The "happily ever after" is actually the beginning of all
things hoped for...

Actually, no matter how it comes about, most of us like fairytale endings,
big surprises, and new beginnings when things change for the better. Especially
if it means surpassing our good intentions in the first place, or enhancing an
otherwise stable game plan.

In this case, the "people" are actually two business forces, Imaging Network
and Questex Media Group,Inc., the latter having negotiated an acquisition of
Imaging Network’s well-established  portfolio of multi-media business offerings
to digital document imaging providers, including the award-winning ITEX
exposition and the industry trade publications of (you guessed it) imageSource,
Office World News, Office Furniture and Design, and the growing Customized
Works, the company’s custom magazine division. Questex is the globally
integrated B-to-B media provider serving multiple industries through a range of
established market products and services. Its scope of offerings now include an
impressive 26 trade publications, 26 conferences and tradeshows, the AIIM
Conference & Expo and ON DEMAND Conference & Expo, and InfoTrends, the
industry’s most respected analyst firm founded and led by Charlie Pesko.

Imaging Network co-founder, Marc Spring, offered this insight: "In our quest
to become the leading resource for all business solutions providers,making  this
deal work was a no-brainer for our organization. This fits perfectly with our
overall growth strategy for our related properties, and the main focus will
continue with us offering complete business information solutions for our
industry’s providers."

The two companies’ strategic alignment will strengthen the office products
and technology market by building on existing joint resources to provide the
channel the most current information and comprehensive marketing programs
through print publications, Internet exposure, and conferences and tradeshows
with new education opportunities, among other services. By having team support
in a myriad of areas to help broaden the company’s ability to optimize
information, increasing overall performance &  workflow, Imaging Network, as
part of the Questex team of companies, will function as before, and assures that
their existing relationships with vendors and dealers will remain intact, only
to get "bigger and better" (or "badder" as Gen X would say!) by having at its
fingertips more resources to deliver key information to the industry.

From their company’s beginning nearly 10 years ago, Imaging Network had a
vision to provide needed services to the Industry. From Spring’s family-owned
business of Copylite, a leading manufacturer of quality copier replacement parts
and supplies, to the formative years of developing a website for online sales of
copier/printer product inventory overages, to creating simple product brochures,
to an early prototype of imageSource; initially with minimal editorial pages in
between vendor product ads, the parent Imaging Network grew in leaps and bounds
to become the well-respected media authority it is today, and a force so
enticing that Questex made owners Marc and Barbara Bertani Spring, "an offer we
couldn’t refuse."

While the Springs will continue running the company, reporting to Kerry
Gumas, president and CEO of Questex Media, imageSource just had to ask its
"creative parents" Barbara  and Marc Spring, some key questions to let the
industry know what’s up next for the "providers  to providers" network:

imageSource: It appears Questex keeps a low profile, allowing their
subsidiaries’ management to continue to run  company operations. Do you see
Imaging Network becoming a "corporate Questex company" or remaining more

Marc: The initial posture will be to minimize any unnecessary
structural changes. The company name and core media services will remain the
same, so a customer’s overall basic relationship remains intact. Questex
understands that our team and methods have made the company a success, so I
don’t see any major changes. So besides running day-to-day operations, providers
will still see me at ITEX handing out those dealer awards with the Rat Pack!

Barbara: Besides the solid framework we have in place, we intend to
still provide the cutting edge editorial and design we’re known for. Having
additional resources to draw from will enable us to source new areas for
additional input, so the foreseeable future looks exciting with all the
possibilities to draw from such as editorial availability and  research
analysis. The added benefits will help us facilitate the dynamics of our media
process even more efficiently.

IS: Will there be any local management structural change? What can we
expect to see for Imaging Network and ITEX?

MS: For the foreseeable future we plan to continue as we are —in the
publishing of educational articles and in advertising and marketing endeavors,
and ITEX will continue as the leading and largest tradeshow of its kind. That
tradeshow represents a lot of "blood, sweat and tears" for Barbara and myself.
We want to ensure that it continues to evolve for our channel, and expect to
take it forward to the next level it is headed for. We will oversee it with our
team, and Kerry Gumas has assured us that we will have all the necessary degrees
of independence and freedom from the rest of Questex to maintain the model we
have built so successfully over the years.

BBS: This is an acquisition that is being driven by integration and
growth opportunities, and what we want to be sure we pursue as our first
priorities are the magazines, marketing and tradeshow. And the synergy that
AIIM, On Demand and InfoTrends brings. We created ITEX specifically for document
solution providers, wanting to bring them the most vital information through
peer-led education, and vendor product exhibitions, assisting dealers and
vendors wanting to grow their businesses. ITEX evolved to bridge the gap between
innovative hardware and solution software, establishing useful solutions aimed
at increasing profitability. It became the largest arena for vendors to tout
their latest product and services for the many VARs and dealers who attended
each year, becoming the key forum experience for providers.

IS: How have your advertisers, OEMs such as OKI, Xerox, Panasonic,
Ricoh, Kodak, and software providers, Printfleet, Docuware, FMAudit, to name but
a few, reacted overall? 

MS: Most, if not all companies and colleagues, know we have worked
hard throughout the years, and are very congratulatory. A lot of them are
friends today as well as business associates, and are familiar with the process
of acquisitions. Now they have the added bonus of a great company (Questex)
standing behind them as double reassurance that though it’s "business as usual,"
there is that  added edge of corporate clout. Of course we know that my
management style has always been entrepreneurial, much like the Star Trek motto
of ‘to boldly go where no one has gone before’ - and that won’t change!

BBS: (Laughs.) Marc does have his own unique style. But it works.
Currently, our sales team is assuring vendors that our desire is to continue
doing what we do best, providing great editorial content to inform providers on
the latest ways dealers can grow their business through key solution strategies,
and how, why and what they can do to increase their profit margins. I think both
dealers and vendors feel that our in depth information, and the audience of
providers that we reach as a media source, is vital to their business agenda and
believe in our abilities as a trusted and reliable media, marketing and 
information source for them to successfully utilize. As part of  Questex, we
have the opportunity to increase these efforts even more.

MS: We have worked hard to build Imaging Network from the ground up,
and the momentum has, and will be, to press continually forward. We have a
multi-year contract geared to growing our products and services, so we’re
excited about all the possibilities that we’ll continue to bring  providers. I
like the challenge work brings, in an industry that I’ve grown to love. Besides,
I’m too young to appreciate golfing and too old to Jet Ski without fear, so
coming to my office each day is a real perk.

BBS: We haven’t forgotten that in our formative years, certain
individuals, friends and industry experts offered their insight to help us grow,
giving us encouragement, and for that we are grateful. Mike Stramaglio, Charlie
Pesko, Ronelle Ingram, and Eneida Lojewski, to name but a few. And all our
hardworking staff. Ultimately, it’s all about relationships and how they
specifically result in affecting our lives.

Long-term peer and friend, Ingram, offers, “I have enjoyed being a small part
of their odyssey, from humble beginnings to industry leader. The Imaging Network
team has been much more than a ‘reporter’ for the industry. Their insight, their
offerings, their creation of ITEX and multiple trade publications, with a focus
on forecasting the future, has been a driving force within our industry.” MWAi
CEO Mike Stramaglio concurs, “ITEX has filled an essential need for all of us,
and the acquisition by Questex  brings a new synergy to an already powerful
venue. AIIM On Demand and ITEX can now deliver the BEST platform for anyone in
the business!”  

Anyone who knows the Springs will agree – success ultimately rests on
achievement from hard work, perseverance, and a respect for what you love to do.
Having done that remarkably well throughout the years, Barbara and Marc, by way
of both a personal and professional partnership, and now with Questex, are
without question aiming directly at "living happily ever after."

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