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Tribute to an AICC Great

By AICC Staff

December 5, 2018

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Richard F. “Rich” Eastwood, owner of Central Graphics and Display, now The Central Group, served as president of AICC in 1993–94. He is shown here at the podium during his presidential year.

Richard F. “Rich” Eastwood, Chair and CEO of The Central Group in Mississauga, Ontario, passed away on Saturday, September 15, in Toronto, following a long illness. He was 81.

Rich Eastwood started his career in the corrugated packaging business as a sales representative for Select Carton Services in Toronto. In 1980 he purchased Central Box & Container Ltd., a sheet plant in Mississauga. In 1985, recognizing the growing opportunities provided by fine-flute, or microflute, corrugated, his partners and he started Independent Corrugator, a specialty sheet feeder also located in Mississauga.

Rich was an avid student of the latest equipment and machinery in the industry. In the early 1980s, at an AICC meeting, Rich led a workshop discussion on how a sheet plant can justify the acquisition of a flexo folder gluer, a machine that, at the time, produced order volumes more common to large, vertically integrated companies than to sheet plants. His research on this workshop later appeared in articles published by Boxboard Containers and Paperboard Packaging, the two leading corrugated industry publications of the day. His study of equipment led to his interest in high graphics on corrugated and the market opportunities they would bring to the industry. Through friendships gained through AICC—most notably with Jack Grollman of Triangle Container Corp. in Philadelphia—Rich positioned his company as one of the leading producers of high-quality flexographic direct printing on combined board. Central Box & Containers’ growing reputation as a corrugated graphics house led to the company’s rebranding to Central Graphics & Display, later to become simply The Central Group. Under the leadership of Rich’s son, Rick Eastwood, The Central Group has become a premier provider of point-of-purchase and marketing services to major consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies and retailers in Canada and the United States.

A visionary industry leader, Rich was an active member of AICC Canada, AICC International, and the Canadian Corrugated Case Association (CCCA), now called the Canadian Corrugated & Containerboard Association. He served on the board of directors of CCCA from 1985 to 2004. He also served on the board of AICC Canada and as regional vice president for AICC International, representing AICC Canada from 1986 to 1989. In 1989, he became a member of AICC’s executive committee, and in 1993–1994 he served as president of AICC International. Recognizing his contributions to the independent sector of the North American and global corrugated industry, AICC, in 1998, named him a recipient of the AICC Hall of Fame award.

During his tenure on AICC’s board of directors, he served as Chair of the Association’s educational development committee, the convention content committee, and packaging design committee, among other leadership posts. He and fellow board member Bill Flinn of Scope Packaging founded the Association’s “Sons of Bosses” group to foster future succession for AICC’s family businesses. Sons of Bosses is now named “Emerging Leaders.” He and Flinn also advocated for a North American corrugated machinery show, and from those efforts, the industry now has SuperCorrExpo, a quadrennial show jointly owned by TAPPI and AICC. He was also a founding board member of the International Corrugated Packaging Foundation (ICPF), and in 1999 he was instrumental in chartering the Canadian arm of the foundation. He was a longtime supporter of the packaging education programs at Humber College and Mohawk College, the two principal schools in Ontario offering packaging-​related education. He was also a longtime member of the Rotary Club Canada.

He is survived by his wife, Beverley; son, Rick (Andrea) Eastwood; daughter, Barb (Kevin) Spears; and four grandchildren, a sister, and a brother. He enjoyed spending time in Muskoka, Ontario, golfing, fishing, playing tennis, and gardening; he skied until he was 80. He enjoyed cheering on his teams: the Maple Leafs, Raptors, Blue Jays, and Argonauts, as well as every Canadian athlete. Richard and Beverley enjoyed traveling, meeting lifelong friends in Europe, Great Britain, the Caribbean, and Australia. They wintered every year in Palm Desert, Calif., with great friends and worked on educational programs at Indian Ridge Country Club.

Memorial contributions may be made in Rich’s name to Sunnybrook Hospital-Odette Cancer Centre, https://donate.sunnybrook.ca/tribute, or mailed to Sunnybrook Foundation, 2075 Bayview Ave., Suite KGW-01, Toronto, ON M4N 3MS, Canada.