Representatives from 14 North American associations in the paper and packaging industries met March 11-12 in Chicago to explore ways for increased cooperation to improve the value propositions they offer to their members. Twenty-six elected and staff heads of the associations representing the entire paper, paperboard and corrugated packaging industries, as well as selected supplier and end user groups, gathered for a day-long Paper and Packaging Association Summit focusing on sharing of resources and exploring opportunities for greater collaboration in service to the industry.
Mark Mathes, CEO of Vanguard Companies in Kansas City and Chairman of AICC, said the idea for the meeting arose during an AICC officer training session last year where he and AICC President Steve Young listed all the organizations representing various segments of the industry.
“We concluded that it would be worthwhile to get these groups together to understand each other and discover ways we can work better together for the benefit of all our members,” said Mathes.
In an email invitation sent in October, 2013, AICC President Steve Young said purpose of this meeting is “for our national associations to sit and explore opportunities for greater cooperation in joint programming, services, co-location of our respective national meetings and other ways in which we, working together, can bring greater value to our members. All of us are working with limited resources and have the ongoing challenge of delivering real value to our members every day. We sincerely believe that through a more cooperative effort we can improve what we do for our members, and thus improve the fortunes of our entire packaging industry.”
Young said the response was “enthusiastic.”
Participating groups included AICC, the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), AICC Canada, the Canadian Corrugated & Containerboard Association (CCCA), Fibre Box Association (FBA), Flexographic Technical Association (FTA), the International Corrugated Case Association (ICCA), the International Corrugated Packaging Foundation (ICPF), the International Association of Diecutting and Diemaking (IADD), the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP), Paperboard Packaging Council (PPC), Paper & Paperboard Packaging Environmental Council (PPEC), TAPPI and the World Containerboard Organisation (WCO). The Flexographic Prepress Platemakers Association (FPPA) was also invited but was unable to attend.
In convening the meeting, Mark Mathes says, “This is not an AICC meeting, but a meeting of all of us working together.”
The group first spent time understanding the mission, scope and services of each participating organization. Key services provided by nearly all the groups represented include data gathering, technical information and member publications, education and training, and networking through national conventions, trade shows or various executive conferences. Some groups, such as the AF&PA, lead on public policy and advocacy, representing manufacturers of paper, paper-based packaging, pulp and wood products, while organizations such as the FTA focus on the technical.
“I learned things today about our fellow packaging industry associations that I never knew before,’ says Young. “If nothing else were accomplished today, at least we all have a larger network of resources we can tap on behalf of our members.”
Donna Harman, President & CEO of AF&PA, makes a presentation on the newly approved Paper Check Off program.
Other paper and packaging representatives in attendance shared their views as well. Donna Harman, President and CEO of AF&PA, states, “Our collective industry voice on behalf of the paper-based packaging supply chain is stronger as a result of collaboration among the various associations participating in the summit.”
FBA President Dennis Colley notes, “It was great to see the excitement among the members of the group and the desire to find ways to reduce costs and be more efficient within our industry.”
Dennis Colley, President of FBA, addresses the group.
Referring to some of the immediate priorities which the group agreed to, he adds, “Networking has already begun and action items underway.”
Although the groups represented were primarily US-based, most all have international members. The three Canadian groups—AICC Canada, the Canadian Containerboard and Corrugated Association and the Paper and Paperboard Packaging Environmental Council—lent a North American scope to the discussions.
“For the Canadians present, this was useful as a North American initiative,” offers John Mullinder, Executive Director of PPEC. “On many of these issues there are no borders.”
David Andrews, Executive Director of CCCA, agrees, saying, “From a Canadian perspective, [CCCA Chairman] Peter Moore and I found the exchange of information to be refreshingly informative. As a result, we will pursue specific ideas and make use of contacts made for the benefit of our membership.”
“I was impressed by everyone attending this Summit and their desire to find mutual paths of cooperation,” says Mike Harwood, President and CEO of the World Containerboard Organisation, and also the Deputy CEO at Pratt Industries.
Based in Brussels, WCO is an international association of containerboard manufacturers. He adds, “As a participant representing a global association, it was intriguing to interact with so many leaders who appreciated having our international overview of paper packaging. The opportunities for both national and international cooperation are immense.”
Related technical and supplier organizations were also presented at the Summit. Mark Cisternino, President of FTA, relates, “with the ongoing technological changes in the package printing market, it’s imperative for associations like FTA to pursue collaborative efforts with other groups to enhance our value to members.”
Mark Cisternino, President of FTA, discusses his organization’s membership services.
Darrell Griffin, Operations Manager at Stafford Cutting Dies and President of IADD, notes he learned about the broader scope of the industry and the number of associations active in it. “We have great potential as associations to deliver greater value to our members by sharing best practices and resources.”
By day’s end, the groups had developed a list of several initiatives which could be undertaken in the coming years, dividing it into ‘easy to accomplish’ and ‘down the road.
In the ‘easy to accomplish’ category were eight points, including such things as enabling cross-marketing of various association’s publications; developing a central calendar of industry events to minimize conflicting dates; and including each association’s web address and other contact information in the “industry resources” section of each group’s website.
In ‘down the road’ were items such as co-location of annual meetings and other joint projects that will require longer-term planning, financial analysis and approval by respective boards of directors and members.
Members of the group agreed that such a face-to-face meeting should be held regularly, although a frequency wasn’t established. Instead, a check-in point of the fall of 2014 has been set to gauge how the ‘easy to accomplish’ have been completed. The group will then determine when and where the next meeting will take place.
For more information, contact Steve Young at AICC, 703-535-1381, or via e-mail at email@example.com. Or, contact any of the participating organizations and representatives listed below:
- Mark Mathes, CEO, Vanguard Companies, Chairman
- Steve Young, President
- Nicole Gaboury, VP Finance, Tencorr Packaging, President
- Jana Marmei, Executive Administrator
- Rich Dreshfield, VP, Sales & Marketing, Clearwater, Chairman, Paperboard Group
- Donna Harman, President & CEO
- Cathy Foley, VP, Paper Group
- Peter B. Moore, Chairman & CEO, Moore Packaging, Chairman
- David Andrews, Executive Director
- John Davis, President, Great Northern Corporation, Chairman
- Dennis Colley, President
- Lon Robinson III, Director of Technology, Tension Corp., Chairman
- Jim Nelson, President, Great Lakes Packaging Corp., Past Chairman
- Mark Cisternino, President
- Darrell Griffin, Operations Manager, Stafford Cutting Dies, President
- Cindy Crouse, CEO
- Carl Bohm, President
- Richard Flaherty, President
- Jane Chase, Senior Director/Packaging Engineering, The Schwan Food Co., Chairman
- Patrick Farrey, Executive Director
- Ben Markens, President
- Allen Kirkpatrick, General Sales Manager, Corrugated Products, Norampac, President
- John Mullinder, Executive Director
- Miles Fletcher, Corrugating Div. Sales Manager, MarquipWardUnited, Chairman, Corrugated Division
- Kristi Ledbetter, Corrugated Packaging Division Manager
- Mike Harwood, Deputy CEO, Pratt Industries; President & CEO, World Containerboard Organisation