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Grip it and Rip it!

By AICC Staff

September 21, 2021

width=239My first order of business is to tell you how honored I am to be your AICC Chair. This Association not only means a great deal to me, but most people reading this as well. It is an honor to represent such a phenomenal group of people. I am grateful to Akers Packaging, not only for their support of my Chairship, but their support of AICC and of our industry. It is wonderful to be a part of an organization like Akers.

As we exit a very challenging year, which Jay Carman successfully guided us through, it’s time now for us to reevaluate and rethink what we’re doing in our business to create a sustainable enterprise. The dynamic of living off the energy and enthusiasm of the owner is robust, but how do you build a sustainable enterprise on a go-forward basis? What I would like to focus on during my Chairship marries my passion for strategy and execution with my love for golf. Simply put, it’s a “Grip It and Rip It” philosophy.

In golf, preparation, practice, and focus all are handled prior to the shot. When it comes time to hit the golf ball, it is time to stop thinking and execute. So when preparing strategically, first ask what can be done in your organization to bring your team together. Expanding on the concepts discussed by Pete Watson, CEO of Greif, during his SuperCorrExpo keynote, this is culture and core values. What are you doing inside your business to create a clear set of core values that you can hire, fire, reward, and recognize your people by? The result will be a consistent, solidified team that will help you get to that next level. Next comes focus. It is time to put a stake in the ground so that everyone in the organization understands where they are going and how they are going to get there. Finally comes the practice, or in this case the execution. When the team can focus on the three to five things to realize the vision course of the next year, five years, and 10 years, the team spends time working on the big things that get you where you need to go and less time on the small things that get in the way.

There are so many analogies with golf; it is interesting to me. In that sense, success comes in the form of one thought or philosophy that we can drive in the business as leaders, similar to one swing thought when you are heading out for your round for the day, keeping it simple. I am personally partial to a certain strategic model, but it’s more about using any model in your business that can help bring focus, alignment, and, importantly, results. As the leader of your organization, that’s your ultimate responsibility: Develop talent, identify and live by your core values, and drive strategic growth and execution.

People tend to misconstrue the well-known phrase, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” What that means, and what that does not mean, is an important distinction. Without culture, you cannot execute. Conversely, a “no strategy is required” philosophy does not work simply because you have a good culture. How this phrase should truly be interpreted is that with a great culture, you can successfully create, develop, and execute a clear strategy far more successfully than a business with no clearly identifiable culture or core values.

I want to thank my wife, Megan, and my children, Emma, Grace, and Claire, for their support. I’m going to enjoy this year getting to know many of you a lot better. I appreciate the partnership of my fellow board members, the AICC staff, and most importantly, you, the members of AICC. Thank you very much.


Gene Marino

Executive Vice President, Akers Packaging Service Group

Chair, AICC