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Integrateds Ingest; Independents Invest

By AICC Staff

April 2, 2018

width=232On the front page of the February 5 issue of Board Converting News, an interesting juxtaposition occurs: In the left-hand column, the headline “WestRock to Buy KapStone for $4.9B”; on the right, “Converters to Continue Innovation and Growth.” Why do I point this out? (See Board Converting News, N.V. Business Publications, February 5, 2018.)

Well, as the large, publicly traded companies in our industry grow hungrier for more acquisition targets, privately held independent converters—largely the subject of the right-hand column I cited above—are growing by investing in their businesses and bringing truly innovative designs to their markets. It’s kind of like a “volume” vs. “vision” mentality: Acquire for more volume; invest for unique solutions for the customer. Now, there is nothing wrong with a strategic acquisition; acquiring another company with complementary assets and product lines, as WestRock has done with KapStone, is smart business and is a good move for the shareholders. But this is a different strategy from the organic growth brought about by planned investment in new technology, equipment, and processes. In Len Prazych’s excellent article, he quotes Bob Cohen of Acme Corrugated, who tells of four major expansion projects that will add 20 percent to Acme’s manufacturing capabilities. Or take Chris Widera of Cal Box Group, who talks about his company’s $6 million in investments, including high-speed digital printing and the addition of a fourth litho laminator to the company’s equipment mix.

These companies have a long-term view and vision: invest, innovate, grow, serve. This is what being independent is all about.

P.S.: And speaking of technology and digital printing, this issue of BoxScore features a number of great articles about digital printing and how members are playing in this fast-changing game. Special thanks to our friends at SUN Automation, who hosted AICC’s Digital Print in Packaging seminar February 7–8. See a recap beginning on Page 10.

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Steve Young

President, AICC