History of PIA
The Printing Industries of America (PIA) was founded in 1887 right after the linotype typecasting machine came into practical use. While the printing industry was doing quite well in the 1880s, it had its problems. Two of its more serious problems were excessive competition and labor conflicts. To deal with these issues, the Chicago association sent out a call for a meeting at the Apollo Hall in Chicago, October 18–20, 1887.

The call stated in part: "An international convention of employing printers in the United States and Canada will convene in the city of Chicago on Tuesday, October 18th at 12 o’clock for the purpose of devising plans for united action upon the recent demand of the international typographical union that nine hours shall constitute a day’s labor. Other important matters will be presented for the consideration of the convention on whose action it is believed will be of permanent benefit to the trade."

Sixty-eight delegates attended the meeting representing 18 Master Printers’ Associations and four individual printing firms from 22 cities. The delegates adopted a constitution on the third day of the convention. The preamble of the constitution stated: "With a view of developing a community of interest and a fraternal spirit among the Master Printers of the United States and the dominion of Canada, and for the purposes of exchanging information and assisting each other where necessary, the typothetae and other societies of employing printers of various cities, through their authorized delegates, do hereby organize themselves into a national association."

It is important to note that Printing Industries of America was founded by representatives of the local associations which existed at that time.

PIA had no permanent headquarters during its first 15 years. The first permanent headquarters office was established in New York City in 1902. In 1908 the office was moved to Philadelphia, and in 1912, it was moved to Chicago where it remained until it was moved to Washington, D.C. in 1929.

The seeds of our present organization were planted in 1941 when a committee was organized "to develop plans for the stronger national organization the printing industry requires." Later that year, the committee reported on the seven fundamental principles upon which a truly representative national organization could be built.

Over the years, the national association’s programs have changed in response to the changing needs of the members. The most recent example of this is the consolidation of PIA and GATF, which brings the best technical programs and publications to our members’ doorsteps and desktops at a time when our industry is undergoing vast changes in its underlying technologies.

History of GATF
From its small beginnings in 1924 as the Lithographic Technical Foundation, this industry-inspired and member-directed foundation has grown into one of the world's leading centers for graphic communications research and education. The Foundation fulfills its missions through its five divisions:

  • Research
  • Training
  • Consulting
  • Process/Quality Controls
  • Publications

Facilities include state-of-the-art prepress, pressrooms, testing laboratories, libraries, and classrooms that provide a world-class platform for innovative sheetfed and web research, leading-edge publications and instruction, and the development of effective test images. The Foundation's research activities include waste control, environmental studies, press and prepress research, and quality control. Educational activities include an outstanding graphic arts library, an extensive publication program, career and curricular consultation for schools and universities, seminars, workshops, and conferences for the graphic arts community.

On January 1, 1999, PIA and GATF consolidated, offering printers and suppliers membership benefits of three organizations—the two national associations, PIA/GATF, and the local PIA/GATF affiliate—for one dues payment. Together, they promote the interests of more than 13,000 graphic arts member companies.

The 1999 consolidation of PIA and GATF brought together two powerful partners—the world’s largest graphic arts trade association, and a technical, scientific, and educational organization dedicated to the advancement of the graphic communications industries worldwide.

Headquartered in Sewickley, Pennsylvania since 2003, the consolidated organization serves the interests of more than 10,000 member companies and an industry with more than $171.5 billion in revenue and approximately one million employees. We also continue to have a presence in Washington, D.C., with a small public policy office located in Alexandria, Virginia.

The organization completed a renovation in May 2005 creating a world-class facility for research and education.  The transformation included a 10,000-sq.-ft. addition to its existing facility.

Published on Wednesday, April 22, 2009 (updated 05/29/2014)

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