Trending Content

AICC 2018 Spring Meeting: How to Succeed in an Era of Disruption

By AICC Staff

June 1, 2018

With more than 600 people in attendance, not even storms and delayed flights across the East Coast could stop the AICC 2018 Spring Meeting from breaking records and disrupting Phoenix. The meeting explored the forces of disruption regarding e-commerce, retail, technology, and the containerboard and paperboard markets.


Al Hoodwin, president, Michigan City Paper Box, and AICC Chair, addresses attendees at the Spring Meeting.

“The Convention Content Subcommittee, led by Matt Davis, Packaging Express, along with our incredible AICC staff, did an unbelievable job with our goal to disrupt the format of our Spring Meeting and create an even more engaging environment for our attendees to network and share best practices. Our attendees left the meeting with a firm understanding of the future paper market supply dynamics, along with the outlook for e-commerce and retail brick-and-mortar stores,” says Al Hoodwin, president, Michigan City Paper Box and AICC Chair. “Members were also provided insight on the packaging designs and requirements to create engaging and interactive packaging that our customers will soon demand. We have successfully educated and motivated our independent members to invest in the people, technology, and equipment to continue their growth and prosperity in tomorrow’s marketplace.”

The revamped format, which added a general session and two new networking events, received rave reviews from attendees. Additionally, new technology was used to allow members to check in, print their own badges, and use a meeting app to participate in live polls, ask speakers questions, and message other attendees.

Terri-Lynn Levesque, office manager, Royal Containers Ltd., says, “In keeping with this year’s AICC theme of strength in numbers, AICC certainly did just that at the Spring Meeting in Arizona—with a new format, an extra general session, more industry-relevant speakers, and additional networking events, which included a late-night mixer and great conversation over food. I had the opportunity to connect with more people at this meeting than at previous meetings combined. They really focused on the ‘customer experience,’ and it showed in every aspect of the meeting.”


Attendees chose from three workshops to build their knowledge in customer service, sheet feeder partnerships, or high-speed FFGs and equipment justification.

The Sales Managers Forum, apre-conference two-day seminar,which began Sunday, April 15, was the first event to bring members together. Leaders R. Andrew Hurley, Ph.D., associate professor of packaging science, Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design and Graphics at Clemson University, and Wayne Stevenson, master’s degree student of packaging science at Clemson, explained the importance of understanding the prospects and research. The methodology presentation explained how to use metrics to improve conversion rates.


New members and first-time attendees were brought into the AICC family by spending time with AICC Ambassadors at a special networking event, reception, and breakfast.

Sunday evening also saw hundreds of attendees come together for a late-night mixer at the hotel, with drink tickets provided by Young Shin.

Tommy Bradford of Bradford Co., program manager, says, “The Spring Meeting was the perfect setting to reconnect with friends and develop new and lasting friendships.”

Monday began with a morning tour of Smurfit Kappa, Phoenix. Formerly known as Sound Packaging, the plant started out in May 1995, a green startup by Troy Gale, Mark Riley, and Tyler Howland. The sheet plant grew from the original 50,000-square-foot single building to an 80,000-square-foot facility in 1999. Then, it added a 50,000-square-foot off-site warehouse in 2005, and then a corrugator, Corrugated Professionals, in 2014. All are now part of the Smurfit Kappa North America operations.


Matt Davis, Packaging Express, and AICC’s own Alyce Ryan explained the app used during the meeting.

Then, as guests headed off for a desert botanical garden tour, meeting attendees joined either the “Fluted vs. Paperboard Workshop” or the Emerging Leaders (EL) training: “Power, Sex, and the New Normal.”

The “Fluted vs. Paperboard Workshop,” led by Tom Weber, AICC folding carton technical advisor, and Ralph Young, AICC corrugated technical advisor, was a facilitated discussion to understand, support, and further develop the use of fluted materials as a substitute for paperboard in the manufacturing of both traditional and highly specialized folding cartons and rigid boxes (see Page 50 for related feature by Tom and Ralph). The session began with Al Hoodwin, Michigan City Paper Box, sharing his experience.

Panelists and additional topics included:

  • Tony Reilly, Flutes Inc. — “Fine Flute Fundamentals: Paper, Basis Weights, and Flute Properties.”
  • Dave Moreno, Greif — “Fine Flute Fundamentals: Processes, Variations, and End Product.”
  • Michael Drummond, Packrite, and Darin Jones, Pacific Southwest Container — “Converting Basics: Process, Challenges, and Best Practices.”

Sharlan Kozak, CEL Chemical & Supplies, was unable to attend in person, but joined via video conference to discuss “Chemical Basics: Starches and Additives for Quality.”


The tour of Smurfit Kappa–Phoenix was attended by more than 90 meeting participants.

The Emerging Leader training, facilitated by Scott Ellis, Working Well, brought together Leah Ashford, a certified professional coach and manager of training and development at E & J Gallo Winery, and AICC General Counsel David Goch, Webster, Chamberlain & Bean LLP, to moderate group discussions and breakouts to prepare attendees to lead their organizations into the new normal, where differences such as gender are valued and safeguarded.

During the Associate Member Meeting, participants learned “What the Tax Law Changes Mean for Equipment Sales” from Mitch Klingher, Klingher Nadler LLP, and received an update on Corrugated Week and SuperCorrExpo.


The 5th Annual Independents’ Cup Charity Golf Tournament had more than 180 players.

General sessions presentations during the meeting included:

  • “Overview of the Rapid Growth of E-Commerce & Its Growing Impact on the U.S. Corrugated, Containerboard, Paperboard & Recycled Industries,” with Matt Elhardt, vice president, business development, Fisher International, Inc.
  • “Industry Panel Discussion: What Are the Disruptive Forces Facing the Global Containerboard Market?” Panelists included:
    • Randy Banks, SHARP International
    • Peter Butler, Evergreen Fibres, Inc.
    • Serge Desgagnés, Kruger Packaging LP
    • Jack Fiterman, Liberty Diversified International
    • Charles Hodges, Hood Container Corp.
    • Neil Osment, Neil Osment Associates
    • “Tax Cuts & Job Act,” with Mitch Klingher, Klingher Nadler LLC

Keynote presentations offered inspiration and new ideas to attendees:

  • John Rossman, former Amazon executive, explained how digital disruption continues to change the world.
  • Douglas Stephens, retail and consumer futurist, discussed the future of brick-and-mortar stores with “Re-engineering Retail: The Future of Selling in a Post-Digital World.”
  • Ed Rensi, former president and CEO of McDonald’s, philanthropist, and NASCAR enthusiast, shared decades of experience with attendees and outlined the secrets of his success.

Three workshops were offered on Tuesday, giving a range of learning opportunities:

  • “The 5 Elements of Remarkable Customer Experiences,” with moderator Doug Stephens, encouraged small groups to develop something game-changing and shared how the world’s most respected brands go about designing and delivering exceptional customer service.
  • Flexo-folder gluers experts Scott Sander, Isowa, Dick Olsen, MHI, and Marc Farrar, Bobst North America, discussed speed of machinery, the benefits, and ROI in a discussion moderated by Mitch Klingher in “High-Speed FFG Panel Discussion & Equipment Justification Methodology.”
  • John Lingle, Schwarz Partners, moderated a conversation with Jay Carman of Standfast Packaging Products, Joe Palmeri of Jamestown Container Cos., and John Perullo of CSI, about “Paper Mill & Sheet Feeder Partnerships: How Can They Make Independents More Successful?”

Eighteen AICC Ambassadors helped new members and first-time attendees navigate their first AICC meeting.

Over the three days, new members and first-time meeting attendees were treated to a special networking event and reception, as well as a breakfast with AICC ambassadors and seasoned AICC meeting attendees to help them integrate into the AICC family and make the most of their meeting experience.

Jacqueline Henderson, sales, Abox Packaging, says, “As a new member and ‘first-timer’ at an AICC meeting, I was pleasantly surprised with the warm family-style welcome I received from each and every person I came in contact with in Phoenix. I came in really not knowing what to expect, but left feeling like I had a ton of new friends who are ready and willing to help me at any time. It is impossible for me to express how thankful I am for AICC. I know I have made friends that will last a lifetime.”

During the meeting, AICC also honored members for both significant milestones and safety records.

The 5th Annual Independents Cup Charity Golf Tournament, which hosted more than 180 golfers, raised approximately $30,000 to be distributed to:

  • Three Precious Miracles — Three Precious Miracles’ mission is to support the families of Native American children who are displaced, so they can provide a loving, caring, and culturally sensitive home. The organization helps to provide basic needs to Native American foster children and grandparents raising grandchildren.
  • American Red Cross Disaster Relief — After a disaster, the Red Cross works with community partners to provide hot meals, snacks, and water, served at shelters or from Red Cross emergency response vehicles in affected neighborhoods.
  • Richard Troll Memorial Scholarship Foundation — The Richard Troll Scholarship Fund was established to honor the memory of the late J. Richard Troll, a founder of AICC and the International Corrugated Packaging Foundation (ICPF). The fund provides scholarships for select college or university students majoring in packaging engineering or a related packaging field.

Milestones and Awards

Member Milestones

Celebrating 125 Years

Weber Display & Packaging, Philadelphia, Pa.

Celebrating 100 Years:

Acme Corrugated Box Co., Hatboro, Pa.

Liberty Diversified International, Minneapolis, Minn.

Tilsner Carton Company, St. Paul, Minn.

Celebrating 50 Years:

Packaging Design, Burr Ridge, Ill.

Volk Packaging Corporation, Biddeford, Maine

2018 Independent Safe Shop Awards

Akers Packaging – Decatur

Akers Packaging – Huntington

Akers Packaging – Michiana

Akers Packaging – Middletown

Akers Packaging – Tecumseh

Akers Packaging – Webster West Evansville

American Packaging Corp.

Corrugated Container Corp.

Jamestown Container

Master Packaging

Vermont Container (Unicorr Packaging Group)

Wonder State Box Co.

Wunderlich Fibre Box Co.

5th Annual Independents Cup Charity Golf Tournament

AICC Thanks the Meeting and Golf Tournament Sponsors & Supporters

A.G. Stacker Inc.

Akers Packaging Service Inc.

Alliance Machine Systems International LLC

American Corrugated Machine


Baumer hhs Corp.

Bay Cities

BCM Inks U.S.A. Inc.


Bobst North America Inc.

BW Papersystems

C&M Conveyor Inc.


Cascades Sonoco

Durst North America


Dynaric Inc.


EMBA Machinery

Emmeci USA LLC

Equipment Finance Corp.

Flint Group

Fosber America Inc.

Global Boxmachine

Haire Group

Hood Container LA LLC


Huston Patterson

Jamestown Container

JB Machinery Inc.

KemiArt US Inc.

Lewisburg Printing Co.

Litho Press Inc.

McLean Packaging

Middlestreet Graphic

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries

NV Business Publications: Board Converting News & Corrugated Today

Oklahoma Interpak


Philipp Lithographing Co.

Poteet Printing Systems

PPC Technologies & Solutions

Quantum Inks

RISI: Pulp and Paper Week

Sappi North America

Schwarz Partners

Smurfit Kappa Phoenix

Stafford Corrugated Products

Standard Printing Co.

Standfast Group

SUN Automation Group

Vanguard Packaging

W.H. Leary Co. Inc.


Young Shin, USA Limited

Zünd America Inc.


Golf Winners

Cattail Course

First-Place Team

Howard Bertram

Lloyd Kent

Scott Sander

John Burgess

Second-Place Team

Tom Murphy

Bill Nolan

Thomas Glas

Tom Emery

Third-Place Team

Jose Guzman

Johnathan Pappas

John Bacot

Mark McGinnis

Closest to the Pin:

Kyle Milley, Tom Glas, Tom Phillips

Longest Putt:

Doug Vandergriff

Devil’s Claw Course

First-Place Team

Michael Lafave

Serge Desgagnés

Stephen Moore

Jeff Abbott

Teams Tied at Second Place

Ben Liskey

Tim Engle

Zach Kowa

Jared Mathes

Tony Castellanos

Bob Day

Tony Scheich

Tom Davis

Closest to the Pin:

Dave Burgess, Bob Ball, Chad Wagner

Longest Putt:

Matt O’Donnell