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Cold Reality, Hot Solution

By Michael D’Angelo

March 20, 2024

Those who know me well know I hate cold weather. By the time you read these words, spring will be upon us, and things will be warming up here in northern Virginia and elsewhere in this great country. Spring: a time of renewal, a time of youth.

In my previous Final Score, I mentioned some industry-related and universal trends. One of these was youth. AICC recognizes youth and the need for our industry to involve the next generation and evolve with its Emerging Leaders (EL) program. For those not familiar, the EL group is for the under-35 crowd among AICC membership, both boxmakers and suppliers. It is a growing group, with currently 128 ELs enrolled. There is always room for more. The EL program is led by three delegates who sit in on AICC board of directors meetings and work with AICC staff to build programs and events. The current EL delegates are John McQueary of CST Systems, Jordan Dawson of Harris Packaging and American Carton, and Evan Clary of National Corrugated Machinery and JS Machine.

The EL leadership has shared their 2024 program with the AICC board of directors, and it is ambitious and exciting. Let’s start with the mission statement, which should resonate with every AICC member’s leadership team: to encourage, engage, and support young professionals in the paper and packaging industry as they find their voice, grow their network, and develop vital skills to create value within their industry, company, and career.

AICC considers the EL program to be educational in nature, and the theme the ELs have chosen for 2024 is appropriate: Engage! This year, we will focus on teaching the ELs to engage in their work, engage with others, and engage with AICC.

To accomplish this, the ELs will hold three in-person meetings with exclusive programming, one each at the AICC Spring Meeting in Palm Desert, California, and the fall meeting at the SuperCorrExpo in Orlando, Florida. The third event will be the AICC Vice Chairman’s EL Workshop, hosted by Package Crafters and Creative Packaging and incoming AICC Chairman Gary Brewer in Savannah, Georgia, May 29–31.

The Spring Meeting, where AICC will be celebrating its 50th anniversary, will also be a celebration of the 10th year of the EL program. Special events are planned, along with an “alumni” reunion. It should be a very special way to engage and grow.

The balance of the EL program is delivered virtually through a C-suite speakers’ program and other live events. The C-suite concept has been very successful and brings an industry leader to the ELs quarterly. It is a chance to listen, engage, and learn.

If your company does not have anyone participating in the AICC EL program, you are not only missing the youth trend taking the country and the industry (sellers and buyers) by storm, but you are also not as future-focused as you should be. Visit for more information.

AICC has been looking ahead for 50 years, and will continue to do so. You should, too—rely on your younger team members. They’re already out front.

Michael D’Angelo
AICC President