Trending Content

How Sweet It Is

By Jay Carman

July 9, 2021

width=207We did it. AICC held our industry’s first large in-person event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Boy, did it feel good to be with so many AICC friends.

When I assumed the position of Chair in Toronto in the fall of 2019, I said that I wanted to focus on how independent companies can grow—either organically in increased sales and new product or material offerings, or through acquisition of other companies.

Never did I anticipate the year that lay ahead, and that “growth” would be defined not by a carefully implemented strategy, but by a frenzy of marketplace demand that has strained our ability to keep up. Consider that between June and December 2020, box shipments as reported by Fibre Box Association increased a phenomenal 5.5%! Compare that with 2019, when shipments for the entire year were essentially flat, or 2018, when we squeezed out a mere 1.7% growth.


We’ve grown in ways other than just sales and shipments, however. Consider that the pandemic has caused all of us to embrace new ways of doing things.

In the plant and office, we’ve had to embrace technology such as plant automation and working from home for those who are able; in our business settings, we’ve had to rely on virtual meetings and discussions—certainly not ideal, but we’ve learned to work with them successfully. And our sales teams have had to learn new ways to serve customers without the benefit of face-to-face consultations.

I am optimistic that because of what we’ve learned in the past year and how we’ve grown, our industry can return to a semblance of normal person-to-person interaction with our employees, customers, peers, and suppliers, in addition to the new things that we have learned out of necessity.

In February, Board Converting News did a cover story on AICC’s plan to hold a spring meeting. In that article, I compared these days to the days immediately following 9/11, nearly 20 years ago. You’ll remember that back then, many people were fearful of flying. I was one of them. But I decided to attend AICC’s Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, anyway. AICC did not cancel the meeting. Those who wanted to attend were thankful that we made that decision. There was an increased camaraderie among us, almost like that of kindred spirits who had all shared a difficult experience together. We appreciated each other’s presence, and we were glad to be together. I felt that same spirit in Amelia Island, Florida.

AICC has played a vital role in the past year keeping us connected through Zoom events and other virtual programs with hundreds of participants. At the Spring Meeting, we connected in a new and unusual way, at least through the lens of the pandemic—in person! Once again, we learned from each other—and leaned on each other.

It was wonderful. And it will be again when we all see each other at SuperCorrExpo in August.




Jay Carman

President, StandFast Packaging Group

Chair, AICC

Post Tags