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AICC Members See the Future in Toronto

By AICC Staff

November 22, 2019


AICC members from around the world came together for the Welcome Reception, sponsored by EFI, during the 2019 Annual Meeting.

AICC hosted more than 550 attendees in Toronto, September 16–18, for the 2019 AICC Annual Meeting. The three-day event offered attendees innovative workshops, informative general sessions, five plant tours, and many networking opportunities. Attendees were also able to review entries for the Independent Package Design Competition and vote for the winner of the Innovator of the Year Award.

On Monday, after many had enjoyed a late-night mix-and-mingle the evening before, sponsored by Durst, the meeting kicked off with nearly 100 people taking part in tours of Kruger Packaging and Royal Containers.

While the tours were going on, 21 members participated in the Practical Innovation in Package Design Forum. The one-day training began with Mike Schaefer, president of Tavens Packaging & Display Solutions, who began as a designer, sharing the CEO’s perspective on how designers bring value to the company. He explained, “This industry is all about people. … When working with salespeople, remember they are your customer. … Designers can make or break a person’s livelihood, depending on how they act or respond to the projects of your ‘customer.’ ”

Later, Brent Lindberg, founder of Fuseneo, an innovative package design firm, and Graham Hough, principal packaging engineer at PCH Innovation Hub, helped attendees design for innovation. Attendees learned how to design for waste reduction and the machine’s capability, while balancing innovation and practicality in structural and graphic design. These industry experts challenged attendees to consider new designs, incorporate sustainability in designs, and plan for designs that their customers are expecting in e-commerce, retail packaging, and more.

After the tours, 24 AICC Emerging Leaders (ELs), participated in Finding Your Voice & Increasing Your Impact, a session developed specifically for the next generation of leaders to help them gain influence and credibility in the workplace.

The afternoon also brought the focused session Distribution Packaging in an E-commerce World, which brought the following experts to the stage: François Martin, senior communications advisor, Bobst Switzerland; Monica White, associate laboratory director and certified packaging technologist, Advanced Packaging Technology Laboratories; and Paul Chambers, president and co-founder of the Subscription Trade Association and CEO and founder of Core3 Solutions, a parent company to Element5 Digital, Gentleman’s Box, Rocket Effect, Moka Boka, and Unity Management System.

They discussed the challenges faced by consumer packaged goods and e-commerce’s transformation of the role of consumer packaging, e-commerce packaging requirements, and the subscription-box market, as well as what they are looking for from suppliers. Digital printing was also infused into many of the topics. Martin said, “You need to master digital one way or the other. You decide, or it will be imposed on you.”

Floor plant optimization and frustration-free packing were also hot topics of the day. In the discussion on subscription boxes, which is a $20 million industry, Chambers explained that designing subscription boxes is all about cost and being a one-stop shop.


Jay Carman (third from left) began his tenure as AICC Chair during the 2019 Annual Meeting. His theme for the year, Grow With AICC, will be reflected at the 2020 Spring Meeting, themed Build a Future of Growth & Success.

That evening, new members and first-timers met with their AICC ambassadors and the board of directors during a special meet-and-greet gathering before the welcome reception, sponsored by EFI, which officially kicked off the meeting.

The following two days brought industry experts to the forefront during two general sessions and three two-day workshop sessions, as well as the showcasing of the 146 entries from 32 member companies received for the 2019 Independent Package Design Competition (to see the full list of winners, visit and tours of The Central Group’s Central Innovation Centre, Packaging Technologies Inc., and Gerrity Corrugated Paper Products.

During the general sessions, attendees were given the opportunity to vote on the AICC, Board Converting News, and Corrugated Today Innovator of the Year Award. First place was the “In-House English as a Second Language (ESL) Program” developed by Michigan City Paper Box. Second place was awarded to JB Machinery for their “Fully Comprehensive Control Interface” submission, and the third-place winner was the “Production Scoreboard,” submitted by EFI. Finalists included Stickle Steam Specialties with their entry “A Steam System Dashboard” and Advantzware with their entry “A Machine-to-Cloud Solution to Assess and Score Resources.”

Finn MacDonald, vice president of operations at Independent II, then presented the inaugural AICC Champion Award to two exceptional members: Ed Gargiulo, executive vice president of Equipment Finance Corp., and Greg Jones, vice president of global sales and aftermarket at SUN Automation, for their outstanding contributions in furthering the Association’s membership.

During the meeting, Tom Skinner, president of Phoenix Packaging Inc., was honored with the AICC/Fastmarkets/RISI Hall of Fame Award for his significant contribution to the independent sector of the corrugated packaging industry through active membership in AICC and broad-based involvement in the industry.

Attendees received an update on drupa from Claus Bolza-Schünemann, CEO of Koenig & Bauer AG and committee president of drupa.

Paul Leclair, vice president and chief economist at Numera Analytics, gave an update on global economic trends. Leclair noted that U.S. manufacturing has been stellar for the past year but is beginning to slow. He continued, “I would suggest U.S. manufacturing is slowing because of the trade wars with China.”

Gregg Lederman, CEO of Brand at Work, energized the crowd and told the audience the three things employees


Jim Nelson, Great Lakes Packaging Corp./Green Bay Packaging and Chair of the AICC Package Design Competition Committee, announced the 2019 winners.

across all generations crave: respect for what they do, a sense of purpose within the company, and strong relationships with colleagues and managers.

Rick Mercer, comedian and former host of The Rick Mercer Report, who is unapologetically Canadian, also shared stories of his adventures and life after his hit TV show.

AICC governance was also addressed, with AICC President Michael D’Angelo giving a report on the “State of the Association” and the new slate of officers, including new AICC Chair Jay Carman, president of StandFast Packaging, being approved by acclamation.

Workshops covered U.S. and Canadian HRthe cost of printing, and employee engagement.

Christine V. Walters, JD, MAS, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, sole proprietor of FiveL, and Michelle Henry, partner at BLG, discussed Marijuana in the Workplace and Trends Impacting Employee Practices for the United States and Canada, respectively.

Lederman expanded on his keynote presentation to give concrete steps to increase employee engagement, using just 10 minutes a week and showing the link between employee engagement and a company’s profit. He also gave participants tools to define a company’s brand and explained how to align the workforce behind it.

Scott Ellis, principal of Working Well LLC, led the True Cost of Print workshop, which provided a cost-based logic for print and print equipment choices. The actual costs of production, as reported by experienced producers of lithographic, flexographic, and digital print, were compared and analyzed in an advocacy-​free environment.

During the meeting, there were a variety of networking opportunities, including ax-throwing for the AICC ELs, the awards luncheon sponsored by Cascades, a night at the theater to see Come From Away, a networking reception sponsored by Equipment Finance Corp., and a folding carton and rigid box dinner sponsored by Alliance Machine Systems International LLC, Baumer HHS, Emmeci, and PPCTS.

AICC thanks our meeting sponsors, who help make the meeting possible:

  • Premier Gold: Poteet Printing Systems
  • Premier Silver: HP
  • Premier Bronze: SUN Automation Group
  • Welcome Reception: EFI
  • Networking Reception: Equipment Finance Corp.
  • Networking Lunch: Cascades
  • Technology: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
  • Mobile App: Baumer HHS
  • Welcome Refreshments: A.G. Stacker
  • Late Night Mix & Mingle: Durst
  • Folding Carton & Rigid Box Dinner:
    • Alliance Machine Systems International
    • Baumer HHS
    • Emmeci
    • PPCTS
  • Hotel Key Cards: Koenig & Bauer
  • Lanyards & Bags: Stafford Corrugated
  • Room Drop: Bay Cities
  • Program Guide: Huston Patterson
  • Closing Keynote: AICC Canada

Members are encouraged to save the date for the upcoming 2020 AICC Spring Meeting and the 7th Annual Independents’ Cup Charity Golf Tournament, April 1–3, at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif. Registration will open in mid-December.

Questions about the 2019 Annual Meeting and the value a well-connected workforce brings to a company can be directed to Cindy Huber, AICC director of conventions and meetings, at 703-836-2422 or, or Laura Mihalick, senior meeting manager, at 703-836-2422 or