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The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

By Pat Szany

September 12, 2019


I know that it is one of the all-time contradictions in terms, but change is constant.

In this issue of BoxScore, the big picture is a moving picture that cannot be captured in a snapshot. It shows that the packaging industry continues to evolve to meet the challenges of the day. Independents already lead in terms of customer focus and customer service, but they constantly strive to do so in the most clever and innovative of ways. No one can rest on their last great idea any more than they can rest after they’ve booked their newest customer. The paper-based substrates that AICC members work with enjoy high marks for sustainability, reuse, and recyclability, but box plant designers come up with new structures and new ways to wow brands: digital printing, e-commerce, subscription boxes, the end of retail as we know it—yada, yada, yada (shoutout to Seinfeld, which debuted 30 years ago). These are just a few of the change drivers in the packaging business.

Then there is the box business itself. Consolidation—is it a change, or is it a constant? On Page 40 of this issue, you’ll read about the various ways in which independents have gone about their business in an environment that’s seeing a shrinking number of box plants and a growing number of box company footprints. Choices are made, strategies are executed, and hopefully, results are achieved.width=229

In the meantime, your suppliers have been evolving as well. This, by its nature, must be done in accordance with the direction in which our customers are evolving. As the industry consolidates, efficiency becomes more and more important. Equipment suppliers have responded with the most productive machines ever. Auxiliary suppliers have brought tremendous innovation to all aspects of the printing and converting process. Lighter-weight board and board combinations are more in vogue. Inks and coatings are more complex chemically, even as they become easier to handle and clean. Previously owned equipment is renewed in more robust and modern ways. Plant operating software performs more and more tasks. The day-to-day activities of an AICC Associate member can have a certain Groundhog Day aspect to them. Engineers engineer. Assemblers assemble. Technicians tweak. Betas are tested. The next big idea. Just like always.

We’ve been a part of your change for as long as you have.

Pat Szany is president of American Corrugated Machine Corp. and vice Chair of AICC’s Associate Board.