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Driving Disruption: The Road to Success

By AICC Staff

December 5, 2018


AICC and TAPPI once again drew a bustling crowd of exhibitors and attendees to Corrugated Week.

AICC, The Independent Packaging Association, and TAPPI welcomed more than 1,700 attendees and 180 exhibitors during Corrugated Week, September 24–27, in Indianapolis. Corrugated Week, hosted every four years, offered an incredible opportunity for members to participate in a week of workshops and sessions and be on the cutting edge of industry trends, innovations, and new products and services.


Leaders from AICC and TAPPI cut the ribbon to the Corrugated Week show floor.

The education began on Monday, September 24, with two optional pre-conference seminars:

  • Bonding Process Variables for the Corrugator, led by Jon Porter, JPorter Consultants. Participants learned to increase their working knowledge of the corrugator bonding process, maximize their runability across all board combinations, and improve board quality.
  • Productive Machine Measurement: Benchmarking and Buy-In, led by Scott Ellis, Ed.D., Working Well LLC. The course began with the premise that what you measure is what you get. This course provided the tools and understanding to measure the right things and to communicate them for peak team member engagement. Methods of building buy-in were demonstrated with multiple process improvement tools, and key production performance measures were practiced. Participants also worked with a machine crew on real-time setup reduction process.

Daniel Brunton, Brunton Business Publications Limited, offered a heartfelt tribute to Tom Vilardi of NV Publications, who passed away earlier this summer.

Keynote presentations offered inspiration and new ideas to attendees:

  • Jim Porter, president, business development and Latin America, WestRock, offered an update on the industry and how recent innovations will impact its future.
  • Jim Craig, Olympic gold medalist, brought his Olympic spirit to Indianapolis to share his experience in leadership and how to succeed.

Workshops included two digital print panels. The first panel, moderated by Peter Snyder, Harper/Love, brought together digital printing experts to discuss the impact this technology is having on the industry overall. Panelists included:

  • Larry D’Amico, Durst
  • Liz Logue, EFI
  • Sean Moloney, SUN Automation
  • David Murphy, HP
  • Dennis Van Ijzerloo, Barberán

Huston Patterson was highly involved at the conference, particularly with their session titled Navigating the Challenges of Balancing Family Business, Business Leadership, and Home Life.

During the second panel, Jeff Wettersten, president, Karstedt Partners, opened the session by giving an update on digital printing for all activities related to packaging and shared the results of a recent study done by the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) on digital adoption across all packaging segments. He then moderated a panel of boxmaker members that are currently using or exploring the use of digital printing in their company. Panelists included:

  • Stephanie Shelton, Custom Packaging
  • Rick Darling, Custom Packaging
  • Jeff Putt, DeLine Box
  • John Ballentine, Tango Press
  • Brad Albright, ColorHub

AICC 2018–2019 Chair Joe Palmeri (right) presented the induction of Kim Nelson, president and CEO of Royal Containers Ltd., into the AICC/RISI Hall of Fame.

Other sessions included:

  • Automation/Robotics/Material Handling: Moderated by Eric Sextonson, Ducker-Ringwood, this session brought together panelists to make presentations related to changes and developments in the areas of automation, robotics, and material handling. Panelists included:
    • Brian Foley, Automatän
    • Doug Vandergriff, WSA USA
    • Ronald Schuszler, Ducker-Ringwood
    • Dave Ahrendt, Alliance Machine Systems International
    • Paul Gilliam, Systec Conveyors, an Inspire Automation Company
  • Two Days of ERP Software Solutions: During the first day, ERP solution providers presented their latest disruptive technology. The second day gave time to ERP users to meet with their suppliers as a group to discusshear suggestions, and allow users to learn from each other. Panelists in the first session included:
    • Jay Farr, Advantzware
    • Cosmo DeNicola, Amtech
    • Jim Silianoff, Arden Software
    • Aleks Zlatic, EFI
    • Dana Disney, Kiwiplan
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    2017–2018 AICC Chair Al Hoodwin (left) presented Terri-Lynn Levesque, AICC Canada director and office manager at Royal Containers, with an appreciation award for her work in the Emerging Leaders program and the industry overall.

    Material Handling/Safety Panel: This panel, moderated by Chris Harris, WPR Services, began with several short presentations on the main safety concerns in box plants today, followed by several forklift companies and safety solution providers who shared insights and solutions. Panelists included:

    • David K. Martin, International Paper
    • Leo Karris, Packaging Corp. of America
    • Jimmy Helms, Syntech
    • Gil Combs, Keytroller, a Division of ID Systems
    • Barry Morse, Hyster
  • Trends and Best Practices for Finding & Keeping the Best People in Your Company: Gene Marks, The Marks Group, offered tools and tips to recruit and retain the best people. He then moderated a panel discussion with converter and supplier members to learn their best practices. Panelists included:
    • Blake Steward, Pacific Southwest Container
    • Daniel Brettschneider, CST Systems Inc.
    • Bill Nolan, Standard Printing Co.
  • Strategic Planning, Forecast for the Future: Presenters shared the key economic and market forces that shape the industry, as well as strategies for boxmakers to maximize their futures. Presenters included:
    • Adam Josephson, CFA, KeyBanc Capital Markets
    • Mitchell E. Klingher, CPA, Klingher Nadler LLP
    • Randy Banks, Sharp International
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    AICC President Steve Young addressed and engaged Corrugated Week attendees.

    What’s New: On the show floor, exhibitors were given the opportunity to present their latest innovations. Presenters included:

    • Bobst North America Inc. – BOBST Premium Gap Control for Flexo-Folder-Gluers
    • Automatän – Automatän AutoJet VP
    • MACARBOX – High Speed Single Pass Digital Cutting and Creasing for Corrugated Board
    • Michelman – Michelman’s New OPV for the Digital Preprint Corrugated Market
    • HP – HP PAGEWIDE C500
    • Canon – Canon’s Corrugated Solution to the Short Run Conundrum
    • BHS Corrugated – BHS Corrugated – SP-S/M/L Splicer Family
    • SUN Automation Group – New Patent Pending Replaceable Feed Roll Covers
    • CST Systems Inc. – Evolution Starch-Off
    • Thacker Industrial – Thacker Industrial Digital Register
    • Hocker North America – New Core Shredder: 120 Cores/Hr
    • Kadant Johnson – New Delivery Systems for Steam Showers
    • Lachenmeier – Incorporating Ring-Wrapping Technology for Greater Box Plant Efficiencies
    • emtec Electronic GmbH – EST – emtec Surface and Sizing Tester
    • Graphenea – Graphene Starch Adhesive Enhancer
    • Automated Conveyor Systems Inc. – ACS Specialized Solution: Corner Pad Inserter
    • Signode Industrial Group – High-Speed Bundlers Increase Throughput, Reliability & Consistency
    • Hitek Equipment – BCM Automated Storage Systems
    • Valco Melton – PrintChek – 100% Inline Full Sheet Inspection for Your Flexo or Rotary Die Cutter
    • AMC Managing Complexity GmbH – RhineSIM: Plant Simulation in Daily Production Planning
    • WPR Services – Alternative Approach to Plant Machine and Area Process Information Gathering and Information Pushing
    • Erhardt+Leimer – Workflow Solutions for Digital Preprint in Corrugated Operations
    • EFI – EFI Nozomi C18000 and the ERP Workflow Ecosystem: Addressing the Future of Efficient Corrugated Packaging
    • Kiwiplan – Visual Enterprise Resource Planning by Kiwiplan

AICC Emerging Leaders and TAPPI Young Professionals were treated to a special scavenger hunt on the show floor, an exclusive networking event, and a presentation and conversation with Tonya Kowa-Morelli, president, and Joe Morelli, vice president of sales and marketing, Huston Patterson Printers, who discussed their strategies and struggles in Navigating the Challenges of Balancing Family Business, Business Leadership, and Home Life. Joe and Tonya shared their successes and challenges with a transparency and honesty that moved the audience.


Corrugated Week offered several opportunities for attendees in the industry to connect—and reconnect.

“Tonya and Joe delivered a powerful presentation on work-life balance that resonated with all during the Emerging Leaders’ training session in Indianapolis. The way they have been able to navigate through the challenges of life while also advancing their careers is beyond impressive and is extremely inspiring!” says Lexy Eickelman, corporate marketing manager, Jamestown Container Cos. “Tonya also had a strong message regarding females in business. This really hit home for me, as many of the challenges she has faced, and still faces today, are ones I have also experienced in my career.”

During the closing general session, the winners in the AICC/Board Converting News/Corrugated Today 2018 Innovator of the Year Award in the nonmachinery category were announced.

First place was awarded to JS Machine North America for their “System to Seamlessly Integrate All Equipment in the Manufacturing Facility.” Second place was awarded to Kruger Packaging for their “Process for Re-Fibering the Corrugated Structure” entry. And third place was awarded to EFI for their “A System for Accurately Predicting Order Delivery Dates” entry.

The additional finalists were Arden Software North America for their “Customer-Facing Store Front for Direct Packaging Sales” entry, and Amtech for their “A Digital Gateway Connecting the Plant’s Business System to Its Digital Manufacturing Equipment” entry.

Next, the AICC board elections and “changing of the guard” took place as Al Hoodwin, Michigan City Paperbox Co., the 2017–18 AICC Chair, handed over the reins to Joseph M. Palmeri, Jamestown Container Cos., the 2018–19 Chair.

Kim Nelson, Royal Containers Ltd., was then inducted into the AICC/RISI Hall of Fame. AICC and RISI (Paperboard Packaging Magazine) have joined together to present the Hall of Fame Award since its inception in 1981. This award goes annually to an individual who has contributed greatly to the benefit and welfare of independent converters in the packaging industry over the years.


The Great Lakes Reception gave show attendees the chance to relax and network with a variety of good food and drinks.

Also during the closing general session, Daniel Brunton, managing director, Brunton Business Publications Limited, offered a heartfelt tribute to Tom Vilardi of NV Publications, who passed away earlier this summer.

Throughout the week, special networking events were offered to attendees, including a new-member and first-time-attendee reception, the opening night reception that featured mini basketball hoops, pingpong, and other games; a gala at the Dallara Indycar Factory; and an AICC Great Lakes Region reception.

The gala, sponsored by Alliance Machine Systems and AG Stacker, allowed attendees the chance to ride in a race car, drive a simulator, learn the history of the Indy car, and take the pit-stop challenge.

The AICC Great Lakes Reception, held at the Rathskeller Restaurant and Bar, was open to all, and sponsored by Litho Press. The “Oktoberfest”-themed event brought members from around the country to network and mingle.

Thursday morning, 75 attendees toured three box plants:

  • Litho Press, which has served the industry since 1953, showed four offset printing presses, the VETEK KX3 Pro Digital Printing Press, and two Kongsberg ESKO Cutting Tables.
  • Flutes Inc. (Schwarz Partners). Established in 1998, Flutes is a specialty sheet feeder operating a 98 MWU corrugator and two 65 Bobst Asitrade Laminators.
  • Capitol City Container Corp. offered visitors a look at their new Solarco Short Run Box Machine.

AICC’s next national meeting is the 2019 Spring Meeting, Sales Managers Forum, and Annual Independents’ Cup Charity Golf Tournament, April 1–3, being held at the Trump National Doral Resort in Miami. Registration will open in December 2018. Learn more at