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Essential Is Exactly What Our People Are

By Joe Morelli

December 1, 2020

“Every problem is a gift—without problems, we would not grow.” —Anthony Robbins


Unless someone has been under a rock this year, it’s safe to say the COVID-19 pandemic has provided us all in the business world a once-in-a-lifetime problem to take on. Who would have ever thought just eight months ago that we would be classifying businesses as essential and nonessential? We are an essential industry, and over these last few quarters, we have crashed right through the barriers to keep our businesses alive.

During these crazy times, I can’t help but be proud of what we have done as an industry. Our industry has been battling through all this adversity to produce cleaning supply cartons, COVID-19 test kit boxes, food packaging, personal protective equipment, medical packaging, and more. Our great industry is tied to so many others. We play a significant role in so many aspects of life and supply chains that serve real purpose in people’s lives.

Being essential has meant that we are needed. Our companies have been counted on to continue to deliver regardless of the virus or whatever else is going on in the world. We have all had to adjust the way we do business, maintain our distance, and keep each other safe. We have all had to reimagine how we communicate and coordinate, and how we interact with our partners. We have all had to keep delivering on what we promised. In our case, AICC members and Associate members continue to count on one another—perhaps more than ever.

We are essential, but it is the people who have kept us moving forward that really need to be recognized during these times. At Huston Patterson, we constantly talk about our “real people,” who have been at the very center of the adaptation and success of our company for more than 100 years. Over the course of 2020, I have heard stories from our partners and friends in the industry about how their people have helped their companies adjust. The solutions to problems we never thought existed were tackled willingly by people who just wanted to help their employer survive these unprecedented times. These are the people who, in my mind, have gotten our industry through these last few months. These are the people who make us essential.

AICC has a network of more than 200 Associate members and more than 250 general members that have proudly stepped up to the challenge of doing business in this unique time. A lot of us have continued to safely visit with our partners to help ease their packaging needs, keep their machines running, repair equipment, install upgrades, and provide services essential to keeping businesses running. As we get close to the end of the year—and hopefully closer to an end to this crazy pandemic—it is with pride that I look back on the way our industry has pushed through it.

More so than our businesses being considered essential, I think it is important to stress that “essential” is exactly what our people are. These people have successfully helped tackle the problem presented to us this year and unquestionably helped all of our companies grow in ways we never thought were even possible.

Joe Morelli is vice president of sales and marketing for Huston Patterson Printers and is vice chairman of AICC’s Associate board.