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Advocacy: Then and Now (and Future?)

By Eric Elgin

March 25, 2019

width=300The work of AICC’s Government Affairs Subcommittee falls under the Association’s advocacy mission—that is, that part of AICC that represents the interests of the independent, entrepreneurial sector within our industry and before our government.

In AICC’s early years, advocacy was a much more prominent and public face of the Association. At that time, turmoil in the containerboard markets and surrounding labor and transportation in Washington, D.C., brought members together to “do something!” to help defend independent boxmakers. AICC archives show that AICC members testified on more than one occasion before congressional committees on various . One that comes to mind is a 1979 hearing before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, chaired by then-Sen. Howard Metzenbaum (D-Ohio), where Robert Cravens of Container Service Corp., William Thorpe of Birmingham Packaging, and Joseph Armstrong of Krafcor appeared to talk about the consolidation of the major paper companies and the potential harm to independents.

While this mission of AICC has not diminished in importance, its practice has changed. My friend Kevin Ausburn, CEO of SMC Packaging Group in Springfield, Mo., chairs AICC’s Paperboard, Regulations & Sheet Supply Subcommittee. This group studies concerning supply of containerboard, trends in the paper and OCC markets, and other economic factors that influence our raw material supply. While no congressional committees are holding hearings on these subjects, AICC, through this important subcommittee, is still invested in this work.

Our Government Affairs Subcommittee also has its lineage in those early AICC years, but more recently we have focused on general business —taxes, regulatoryand the like. We do this most prominently at our Print and Packaging Legislative Summit (formerly the Washington Fly-in), a two-day event where we bring members to Washington to visit their congressional representatives and senators to advocate for economic and regulatory policies that are favorable to the manufacturers in AICC’s membership. Since 2003, we have held 14 such events, most of which have been co-located with the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) Manufacturing Summits.

AICC’s Board of Directors recently reaffirmed the importance of our continued advocacy via this means, but it has given my subcommittee the task of looking at ways we can increase participation, better communicate critical to our members, and generate grassroots action when needed. In our current political climate, it’s easy to tune everything out and take on the attitude that this work is unimportant. Yet, it’s critical that we who own businesses, employ people, meet payrolls, and provide benefits have a voice.

We need to hear from you: How can AICC be a better public advocate for your business interests? Send an email to me at I’ll be pleased to hear your thoughts, and you’ll be helping your Association. But be warned: I may just ask you to get on the subcommittee to lend a hand to the work we’re doing.


Eric Elgin is owner of Oklahoma Interpak and Chair of AICC’s Government Affairs Subcommittee. He can be reached at 918-687-1681 or