“Politicians are people who, when they see light at the end of the tunnel, go out and buy some more tunnel.” —John Quinton
When I saw this quote from John Quinton, I thought what better summary of the pandemic, with its government-induced economic dislocation and the never-ending election season in which we find ourselves? Hopefully by the time you read these words, everything will have been sorted out in regard to the election. Once it is, the divisions in the makeup of the electorate will be reflected in either divided government or a razor-thin majority.
Situated as we are in Alexandria, Virginia, in the middle of the “swamp,” the noise goes on whether we are in election season or not. I believe those in our industry, like the rest of the country outside of Washington, D.C., are just too busy. Not too busy to care about the noise, just too busy to be consumed by it.
All of us are working, dealing with the realities of the pandemic, and striving to do our level best for our families, our employees, and our customers.
Box plants are busy. Various grades of paper remain in short supply. Labor remains a big challenge. Yet there is a palpable optimism among AICC members. This is reflected not just in conversations that we are having with members, but in their remarks to the broader industry. We followed closely the presentations at the Fastmarkets RISI International Containerboard Conference. Of particular interest was a panel discussion with Eduardo Posada of Grupo Gondi, Greg Hall of Hood Container, Charles Malo of Cascades, and Greg Tucker of Bay Cities on November 5, ably moderated by George Staphos of Bank of America, titled “Executive Commentary on the Key Forces Driving Change in Corrugated.”
These leaders shared their vision, their challenges, and their confidence in the industry going forward. In a more than 45-minute discussion—topics ranging from new capacity coming online (including from some of the participants), to the pandemic and worker safety, to the fact that e-commerce has jumped ahead five years in volume, to mass customization and digitization, to the equipment converters need to meet these shifts—the discussion was lively and seemed to go by in the blink of an eye.
The discussion was a real pep talk, but not one given by a coach to inspire the underdog. Rather, the discussion was coming from a point of strength and optimism. More tunnels will be built, to be sure, as they have been throughout eternity. But our industry continues to move boldly toward the light.
As you leaf through this fourth Big Associate Issue, please keep in mind that AICC’s supplier members are another reason why so many converters have such confidence. Improvements in technology, equipment, consumables, and support services continue at a blistering pace. New equipment and services are being delivered into box plants routinely.
If you are buying from AICC Associate members, thank you. If you are not, you can see why you should in these pages!