AICC 2022 Annual Report
By AICC Staff
November 9, 2022
AICC’s fiscal year 2022 (FY 2022) ended June 30. It was a year of great change, starting with the COVID-19 pandemic still in front of mind and ending with a feeling of things being more familiar. But we won’t go so far as to use the term “normal” because COVID-19 is still with us, and behaviors and norms in the industry and the workplace are continuing to evolve. AICC continues to evolve as well.
The box business, throughout the fiscal year, remained strong. The age-old challenge for labor in manufacturing remained and was exacerbated by evolving expectations in the workforce. AICC programs, driven by member participation in AICC committees, attempted to shed new light on labor and other challenges facing members while their businesses continued to perform at record levels. The teeth of inflation and the fears of recession were strongest as the fiscal year drew to a close.
National Meetings and Events
Although it seems like ancient history, SuperCorrExpo, postponed from its 2020 iteration, was the key opening event of the fiscal year in September 2021. A robust turnout from the U.S.-based industry made for a successful show. Several suppliers had equipment on the floor, and the activity on the floor reflected the ongoing success of the machines and services businesses in the paper-based packaging industry—busy. Manufacturers’ lead times were long going into the event and were added to because of the event. SuperCorrExpo missed the attendance of our Canadian, European, and Asian visitors due to travel restrictions that have since, thankfully, been lifted.
AICC regional summits resumed at the start of calendar year 2022 with the West Coast Ski Meeting in Telluride, Colorado, in February. Next up was the national Spring Meeting in Palm Desert, California, in April. Palm Desert is a top AICC member-preferred meeting destination. This was borne out by the nearly 700 attendees and strong business and social programing, including the Independents Cup Golf Tournament, which netted $30,000 for the Foundation for Packaging Education. The Southeast Summit took place in Alpharetta, Georgia, in May and drew its usual strong participation from members in the region and suppliers everywhere. Later in May, the Midwest Summit occurred in conjunction with Chicago TAPPI, always a memorable event.
These in-person events allow us to apply the term “familiar” to the year we’ve just closed. We’ve said repeatedly that AICC members are a social bunch with strong networks who want to get together and meet in person. For more than a year, that was difficult to do. But member support of in-person events came back strong, and AICC thanks each of you for that.
Education and Training
AICC’s partnership with The Packaging School (TPS) finished its fifth and, as it turns out, final year. TPS has hosted AICC’s Packaging School since 2017. During that time, the roster of Packaging School courses has grown to more than 100, including 27 in Spanish. From January 2017 through June 2022, AICC’s Packaging School has seen members complete nearly 12,000 courses. As the graph on p. 47 shows, AICC online training participation is consistently higher year over year, a trend we expect to continue. LinkedIn confirms this expectation; its Global Talent Trends 2022 report shows 89% of respondents (employees) want professional development opportunities. Education is a major component of professional development. AICC will continue to provide a minimum of 10 new courses and three new translations each year in support of its members.
As the new fiscal year 2023 (FY 2023) begins, AICC is moving its Packaging School from TPS to a new, AICC-hosted platform called AICC NOW. This article is meant to look back on the past fiscal year, but a few words on AICC NOW are in order. This new platform will allow AICC members to more easily navigate and search for AICC content—past and present. As a part of this, AICC will debut its Packaging School replacement, Packaging University, on the AICC NOW site.
We cannot mention AICC’s Packaging University without a thank-you to its education investors. The following companies have committed financial and intellectual capital to create courses rostered on the site: Fosber, BCM, SUN Automation, JB Machinery, Pamarco, Absolute, Printron, EFI, Krueger, Bobst, HP, and Stafford Corrugated Products. They have our gratitude.
AICC’s partnership with TPS will endure, however, as TPS partners with AICC on course development. In addition, TPS will continue to host two microsites for AICC education partners, the Association of Caribbean, Central and South American Corrugators (ACCCSA) and the National Wooden Pallet & Container Association. Through the partnerships with these two fellow associations, AICC’s course content has grown as well. We expect these partnerships to continue to grow and thrive.
AICC returned to Packaging Xperience, its premier in-person education event in February in Kansas City, Missouri. Titled “Packaging Possibilities — A New Era, A New Xperience,” the agenda included a roster of speakers that reflects the pivots in the marketplace. Topics ranged from the people side of the business to data and its uses, to emerging trends, to blockchain and cryptocurrency. It was truly an Xperience for the times. Three plant tours were a part of the program. Plant tours are always popular with AICC members.
Speaking of plant tours, since members’ travel was somewhat restricted, AICC launched a series of virtual plant tours in December 2021. These proved to be incredibly popular with membership, as members “opened their doors” by shooting videos of their plants and walking their fellow members through during virtual videoconference meetings. There were separate chatroom opportunities for suppliers whose products were seen on the floor during the tour. Between 300 and 400 attendees made it to each of the six virtual plant tours.
More education programming was developed, based on a concept initiated by AICC Chair Gene Marino (Akers Packaging) and Associate Chair Joe Morelli (Huston Patterson/Lewisburg Printing Co.). Working with AICC’s Virginia Humphrey, they launched a podcast that brought member leadership stories and insights with each session. Launched in February, Breaking Down Boxes, which “drops” on the first Monday of every month, has steadily risen among the ranks of business podcasts. You can find it via any number of podcast platforms or launch it from www.AICCbox.org.
AICC’s leadership groups are expanding. The longest-standing such group, the CEO Advisory, now counts nine in number and serves as the model for the expansion of leadership groups to include Production and Financial advisory groups.
Foundation for Packaging Education
Launched in fall 2020, the Foundation for Packaging Education is a 501(c)(3) education foundation with the mission to ensure funds will be available to sustain AICC’s and other entities’ education programming directed toward current workers in the paper-based packaging industries. The number of donors and the amount in the fund continue to grow. This year, AICC’s board of directors approved the proceeds of the annual Independents Cup Golf Tournament to go to the foundation. Also, the foundation’s board of directors approved the creation of an annual fundraising event. The inaugural event will occur November 8–10 at The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island in South Carolina.
The foundation also administers two scholarships, AICC’s long-standing Dick Troll Memorial Scholarship and the newly created Steve Narva Memorial Scholarship, funded by several pledge companies in the foundation.
AICC thanks all those companies that have gotten behind independent education through their generous pledges.
Publications and Advertising
AICC’s Salary, Hourly Wage & Benefits Report became available this spring. This biennial document was especially timely this year, as it incorporates post-pandemic wage and benefit data from 70 contributing sheet plants and corrugator plants.
Since all AICC publications are available only in digital format (a change made a couple of years ago), AICC’s publications and media—past and present—will now be housed at the previously mentioned AICC NOW site, NOW.AICCbox.org. Included are surveys, white papers, Ask the Expert content, BoxScore, all webinars, and so much more. Essentially, all AICC media and information will be rostered at AICC NOW and easily accessible through enhanced search features.
AICC NOW will also offer more online advertising opportunities for members wishing to showcase themselves in front of AICC member companies and all their employees.
Pandemic restrictions in Canada were more severe, widespread, and longer-lasting than those experienced in the U.S. AICC Canada’s board of directors did a magnificent job keeping members, north and south of the border, engaged in programming remotely. AICC Canada held its annual President’s Luncheon in Toronto in December. It was a warm reunion on a cool day for so many members who had been kept apart for so long. Sami Jo Small, a mainstay on the Canadian Women’s Olympic ice hockey team for 10 years, was the keynote speaker and was inspiring in her remarks.
AICC Canada also got together in June for its 15th annual golf outing at the Lionhead Golf Club & Conference Centre in Brampton, Ontario.
As FY 2023 commenced, AICC Canada programming was already back on track with a September AGM and its Corrugated Connections Tabletop Meeting on October 27 in Toronto.
Royal Containers’ Terri-Lynn Levesque represents AICC Canada members on the AICC board of directors, and Royal Containers’ Don Duplantis serves as AICC Canada president. AICC thanks them for their generous and ongoing service to members.
AICC education programming and webinar participation continues to grow exponentially in Mexico. Membership is growing with more than 50 converters and suppliers on the roster. AICC México’s annual Trade Fair and Meeting took place in Monterrey, Nuevo León, in November 2021 and was a big success. AICC México engaged with members through four seminars, three webinars, two Emerging Leader events, and three additional in-person events. Sergio Menchaca Flores of Eko Empaques de Cartón serves as the president of AICC México and represents members there on the AICC board of directors.
Governance, Cooperation, and Advocacy
AICC is led by a very engaged and representative board of directors whose members come from all segments of the industry and marketplace. The board of directors meets three times a year and virtually as necessary. AICC activity beyond the board level is vested in the extraordinarily strong participation of members in its various standing committees:
- Convention Content
- Membership and Marketing
- Government Affairs
- Paperboard, Regulations, and Sheet Supply
- Associate Member
Participation in any committee is open to every AICC member who wishes to make a difference in this Association.
These committees play a key role in developing AICC’s programming for this fiscal and future years. This is the primary reason AICC programs are so relevant to members’ needs: They are populated by peers, who produce what is necessary based on their daily experiences in the industry. Each committee is chaired by a member of the AICC board of directors, so there is connectivity and accountability both ways.
AICC continues its close ties with fellow industry associations such as the Fibre Box Association; Technical Association of the Pulp & Paper Industry, with which AICC shares co-ownership in SuperCorrExpo and Corrugated Week; and the American Forest & Paper Association. Internationally, AICC is a member of the International Corrugated Case Association (ICCA), with representation on the ICCA board of directors by Kim Nelson of Royal Containers, AICC’s overseas director. AICC maintains relationships with the Sheet Plant Association in the United Kingdom, the European Federation of Corrugated Board Manufacturers, and the previously mentioned South and Central American entity ACCCSA. AICC management and staff endeavor to represent members at various events throughout the year.
AICC’s interests in advocacy flow from its Government Affairs Committee to its partnerships with several groups that are active in federal affairs. The Small Business Legislative Council (SBLC) regularly provides information on that affect independent businesses, which AICC disseminates to members. AICC President Mike D’Angelo serves on the SBLC board of directors. Most AICC members are manufacturers. AICC’s membership in the Council of Manufacturing Associations (CMA) ensures that AICC member needs are well represented. CMA is a part of the National Association of Manufacturers, one of the higher-horsepower advocacy organizations in Washington, D.C. AICC also recommends that each of its members be a strong advocate locally with their town, county, state, and federal representatives.
AICC members confirmed that the Association serves their needs and provides programming to assist in their successes by renewing their membership for FY 2022 at better than 94%. This is the retention target set by the board of directors. This target refers to members that can be retained and does not consider members lost through acquisition. As of June 30, AICC rostered 483 members in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, with 268 being general (boxmaker) members and 215 being Associate (supplier) members. Dues collection for the year was $1,598,711—3% more than budget. AICC signed up 13 new general members and 30 new Associate members during the fiscal year.
Budgeting for FY 2022, as with the preceding year, remained a challenge. AICC draws operating revenue and incurs operating expenses in the following broad buckets: advertising, administrative, membership, meetings, education and training, and products and publications. AICC exceeded budgeted revenue in all categories except for education and training. A Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness payment and an employee retention tax credit figured prominently on the administrative revenue line. AICC racked up higher administrative and advertising expenses while holding all other expense categories below budget.
Below the operating line, AICC took a hit on the unrealized loss line due to financial market activity. This was offset by SuperCorrExpo income.
The overall result was operating and bottom-line black numbers that were slightly better than budget and worse than budget, respectively. AICC remains in good shape financially with solid cash flow and strong short-term reserves.
Below are AICC’s income statement and balance sheet data for FY 2022.
The above financial information is not audited. The spreadsheets are derived from AICC’s monthly financial statements. At the time of this writing, AICC’s audit, an annual process that we conduct with Mullins PC of Bethesda, Maryland, has not been completed. Members that wish to receive AICC’s audited financial statements should contact AICC President Mike D’Angelo at firstname.lastname@example.org.