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By AICC Staff

April 2, 2018

width=212“Disruption” will be a big topic at our 2018 Spring Meeting, April 16–18 in Phoenix, Ariz. It is the word we are hearing about everywhere. CNBC, which now has a 2017 list of the top 50 disruptor companies ( describes disruptive companies as “startups [that] have identified unexploited niches in the marketplace that have the potential to become billion-dollar businesses—and they rushed to fill them.” Some companies on the list include No. 1 Airbnb, which has disrupted the hotel industry, and No. 47 Warby Parker, which sells glasses direct to consumers—in beautiful corrugated boxes—and is disrupting the near monopoly that Luxottica has had in the market for years.

I believe, as independent packaging manufacturers, we should all be interested in disruption for three reasons. First, we have disruptive technologies in our own industry. Our customers now have the ability to make their own glued and printed (labeled) corrugated cartons on demand. While early machines required people to glue and label cartons, new machines do the work automatically—my CSR can now go to the network, define the carton they want, push a button, and the machine takes it from there—cartons are suddenly produced with lightning speed.

width=200The second reason we should be interested in disruption is that it gives us the opportunity to redefine our companies. In late November, we had the opportunity to tour Yuto, a large packaging company in Asia that manufactures smartphone boxes, including the iPhone box, for leading Asian phone manufacturers—like Huawei. I was astonished to see how automated and well-engineered their production floor was.

Lastly, the third reason why we should be interested in disruption is that we see it as a great opportunity. AICC members are agile and entrepreneurial, and they embrace change. These are the same three characteristics that describe many of the companies on CNBC’s top 50 disruptors list. We are the packaging companies that are best-suited to serve the needs of these disruptors.

Most disruptors start small. I can tell you that as a company with a website, I get multiple inquiries each day from startups that want high-end packaging, but in small quantities. What are you doing as a business owner to help satisfy these needs? Associates: What technologies are you bringing your manufacturers to help them respond to these needs? Digital print is definitely helping all of us with these types of orders and is a technology you need to embrace.

So, don’t just delete those small inquiries that come to you. Explore the opportunities that are viable, and figure out how to help these disruptors create the best packaging for their product. Because you never know when your smallest customer may become your biggest customer in just a matter of years.





Al Hoodwin

CEO, Michigan City Paper Box Co.

Chair, AICC