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500 Industry Leaders Gather to Sip, Socialize, and Strategize at the 2023 AICC Annual Meeting

By AICC Staff

November 13, 2023

Comedian and filmmaker Tripp Crosby entertains attendees during a networking lunch. (Photos by Ryan Armbrust.)

AICC celebrated another successful Annual Meeting, as more than 500 professionals from the paper and packaging industry convened in Louisville, Kentucky, for three days of networking, knowledge-sharing, and innovation. The event, held September 18–20 at the Marriott Louisville Downtown, featured a wide range of workshops, networking opportunities, and plant tours to advance the industry and foster leadership.

AICC members began learning before the first session even started, with the opportunity to explore the box plants of Premier Packaging, Independent II, and Greif CorrChoice, gaining firsthand experience at cutting-edge packaging facilities. The tours were followed by a lunch and bourbon tasting at Farmington Historic Plantation.

The AICC Annual Meeting kicked off with a focus session that included the State of the Industry address delivered by Timothy Bergwall, group president of paper packaging and services at Greif Inc., where attendees gained invaluable insights into the current sector landscape. George Staphos, a managing director at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, followed with a comprehensive Paper & Packaging Economic Update, equipping participants with the latest market trends and financial perspectives.

A highlight of the session was Gene Marks, CPA, author, columnist, and small business owner, who shared top tactics and strategies that leaders should employ to navigate and thrive in 2024 and beyond.

Keynote speaker Stephanie Stuckey, CEO of Stuckey’s Corp., presented Looking Back to Move Forward, inspiring attendees to reflect on the past and draw valuable lessons for the future during a general session. She went on to discuss Keeping the Family in Family Business and It Takes Creativity: DIY Marketing during subsequent workshop presentations.

After three plant tours, attendees are treated to a lunch at Farmington Plantation.

In another packed workshop session, Tim Connell, director of sales at A.G. Stacker, moderated a panel discussion with Jeremy Cohen, vice president and general manager at Acme Corrugated Box Co. Inc.; Keith Thomas, director of strategic initiatives and business development at Michigan City Paper Box Co.; and Dennis Wood, director of manufacturing at Premier Packaging on Automation vs. Semi-Automation in the Plant.

R. Andrew Hurley, Ph.D., associate professor at Clemson University, presented a four-phase program for sustainable packaging development during a workshop and discussed carbon neutrality during a general session, while Abigail Sztein, senior director of government affairs at the American Forest & Paper Association, provided insights into legislative developments affecting the industry.

During the meeting, Evelio Mattos, host of the Package Design Unboxd podcast, also explored the implementation of AI in manufacturing.

Jana Harris (far left), CEO of Harris Packaging and American Carton Co. and AICC immediate past chairwoman, presents Student Design Competition awards and Troll Scholarships to winners and recipients.

AICC Emerging Leaders (ELs) participated in a dynamic discussion on leadership development and authenticity in leadership with moderator John McQueary, vice president of sales at CST Systems Inc. Panelists included Cassi Malone, director of customer experience at Corrugated Supplies Co.; Josh Sobel, account manager at Jamestown Container Cos.; Danny Lopez, director of business development at Haire Group; and Simona Georgescu, president and founder of Adduco Communications Inc.

A networking lunch featured keynote speaker Tripp Crosby, a comedy filmmaker, live host, and entrepreneur, who added a dose of humor and inspiration to the event.

Unique networking opportunities included a reception at the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs, where attendees toured the racetrack and decorated fedoras and fascinators. Many also participated in the bourbon distillery tours at Maker’s Mark and Stitzel-Weller. The ELs enjoyed a lively evening at the Howl at the Moon Dueling Piano Bar.

During the meeting, AICC recognized Greg Jones, executive vice president at SUN Automation Group, and Greg Tucker, chairman and CEO of Bay Cities, as recipients of the AICC Champion Award.

Cascades took home the AICC/BCN Innovator of the Year Award for its 100% recycled SBS alternative used for color applications on packaging.

Student Design Competition winners and Troll Scholarship recipients were also recognized during the meeting and given a priceless opportunity to network with attendees.

Additionally, AICC members elected a new slate of officers and directors, with Matt Davis, president of Packaging Express, succeeding Jana Harris, CEO of Harris Packaging and American Carton Co. as the Association’s board chair.

The event concluded with a powerful closing keynote from Dakota Meyer, a U.S. Marine and Medal of Honor recipient, who shared insights on mastering life’s toughest battles and discovering one’s purpose.

Additional photos from the meeting can be found on AICC’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/AICCbox). Meeting presentations will be sent out to attendees.

Questions about the Annual Meeting and the value a well-connected workforce brings to a company can be answered by Cindy Huber, AICC director of conventions and meetings, at chuber@AICCbox.org, or Laura Mihalick, AICC senior meeting manager, at lmihalick@AICCbox.org.

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