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What Happens in Vegas Grows Your Company

By AICC Staff

December 4, 2017


Chris Heusch, ARCH Inc., and Jim Nelson, Green Bay Packaging’s Great Lakes Division, judge the Designers’ Lab solutions to their real-world problem from Sweets Candy.

More than 700 attendees and guests converged at the Encore Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the AICC 2017 Annual Meeting. The meeting offered a value-packed week of events including AICC’s Independent Packaging Design Competition, the 2017 Designers’ Lab, and PackExpo Las Vegas 2017, which was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center.


PackExpo featured the latest in packaging and processing innovations, new trends and technologies, and creative business solutions, along with the opportunity to connect with more than 30,000 packaging professionals from more than 75 countries from around the world. AICC Experts Tom Weber and Ralph Young led tours for AICC members around the trade show floor. The show featured more than 2,000 exhibitors. All AICC meeting attendees were encouraged to attend the show and received complimentary admission and transportation.

AICC’s meeting officially kicked off on Monday evening with the opening night cocktail reception, where attendees came together to relax, unwind, and connect with friends and colleagues.

Designer’s Lab


Four workshop tracks offered critical information in leadership, HR, security, and the digital print market.

The AICC 2017 Designers’ Lab began on Sunday at the Encore Hotel. Attendance was up significantly this year, with 34 designers participating from AICC’s member companies and six students.

This three-day event gave designers the chance to learn new techniques—in both structural and graphic design—from experts in the field, to network with their peers and show off their talents.

The event kicked off with presentations from the sponsoring companies, including Arden Software North America, Esko, Gerber Technology, and Xante. EnCorr Sheets and Wasatch Container were also contributing sponsors of the event. Dan Malenke, president of PKGPRO, discussed “Trends in Paperboard Packaging,” and Dr. Andrew Hurley, assistant professor at Clemson University, spoke about “Leveraging Human Factors in Packaging Design.”

Rick Kay, president, Sweet Candy Co., presented this year’s real-world challenge. The designers were tasked with creating a standard floor display or half-pallet-sized display utilizing the 13-ounce bags of Sweet’s Taffy. The lab featured two functioning CAD tables provided by Esko and Gerber Technology, a digital printer provided by Xante, and software and computers sponsored by Arden Software North America and Esko.

Emerging Leaders


Networking receptions each evening gave friends and colleagues the chance to reconnect.

Twenty Emerging Leaders heard from Rocky Romanella, 3Sixty Management Services, who led an interactive, in-depth session on why values matter in business. Romanella asked them about developing a personal brand and helped them find the ethical lines they will live by.

He also shared wisdom he learned from his father about being a good leader and good company steward, including “learn your job, then learn some more.”

Later in the week, leaders also saw the magic of Las Vegas live during a David Copperfield show.

Selling Digital

The Selling Digital Print Training began on Monday morning, featuring presenter George Moretti, Innovative Intelligent Solutions LLC.

A great deal is being taught about this trend, with emphasis on equipment, but few programs teach you how to sell digital. This one-day course is a teaser leading up to AICC’s new Digital Print Sales two-day course, to be held in 2018.

Moretti shared his knowledge on what worked and what has not worked, and attendees reviewed several real-life experiences with existing clients over the last few years.



More than 700 people came together for the 2017 AICC Annual Meeting in Las Vegas.

Mornings began early for attendees who joined the Eye-Opener Session.

The first morning, the “Management Succession—Planning for Future Sustainability & Success: Thinking Outside Family” session featured an interactive panel discussion of owners, comprising James Haglund, Central Package & Display; Kim Nelson, Royal Containers; and John Bird, JB Machinery. The panel, moderated by Gene Marino, Rusken Packaging, discussed how they came to the decision to bring in successors outside the family.

The second day kicked off with round two of the early morning eye-opener session on “Management Succession—Planning for Future Sustainability & Success: Thinking Outside Family.” The session featured the successor to the previous days’ owners, including Mike Gallagher, Central Package and Display; Terri-Lynn Levesque, Royal Containers; and Jeff DeVries, XDS Holdings. The session was moderated by Marino.

General Sessions

The opening general session began with Tony Schleich, Lawrence Paper Company, American Packaging Division, and 2016–17 AICC Chair, welcoming the group to Las Vegas and the 2017 Annual Meeting.

Next Jim Nelson, president of Green Bay Packaging’s Great Lakes Division and AICC’s Package Design Competition Committee Chair, announced the winners and presented awards to the 2017 Annual Student Design Competition winners who were in attendance from Clemson University, the University of Texas at Arlington, and Dunwoody College.


AICC recogognized the hard work of outgoing Chair Tony Schleich, Lawrence Paper Company, with his wife, Kim.

The judges for the package design competition and design lab were also recognized and included Cordes Porcher, Corrugated Synergies International; Chris Heusch, ARCH Inc.; Carl Cecil, Flint Group; Ben Dolezal, University of Texas at Arlington; Rick Putch, National

Steel Rule; Gary Cooke, Stafford Cutting Dies; Rick Reinsch, Digital Recollections; Robert Meisner, University of Wisconsin–Stout; and Dan Malenke, PKGPRO.

Steve Young, AICC president and trustee of the Richard Troll Scholarship Foundation, announced the recipients of the J. Richard Troll Scholarship awards.

Jim Curley of NV Publications was inducted into the AICC/RISI Hall of Fame. Since its inception in 1981, AICC and Paperboard Packaging have joined together to award the Hall of Fame Award. This award is presented annually to an individual who has contributed greatly to the benefit and welfare of independent converters in the packaging industry over the years.

Next, Juan Javier González, Cartró, presented on “Facing Complexity,” how to keep up with the expanding technological complexity in production and plant processes.

The general session came to a close with a keynote presentation by Rocky Romanella on “Balanced Leadership.” Attendees also received copies of Romanella’s recently published book, Balanced Leadership—Tightening the Lug Nuts.

The closing general session began with the board elections and “changing of the guard” as Schleich handed over the reins to Al Hoodwin, Michigan City Paper Box Co., the 2017–18 AICC Chair.

Next, Nelson announced the prestigious judges’ and people’s choice awards in the Packaging Design Competition, followed by recognition of our Designers’ Lab sponsors, and the announcement of the winners in the 2017 Design Lab Team Challenge.

This was followed by the announcement of the winners in the AICC/BCN/Corrugated Today 2017 Innovator of the Year—Boxmaker Category. Jay Carman, AICC plant innovations Chair, and Len Prayzch, editor, Board Converting News, presented the 2017 Innovator of the Year Award to Bay Cities for their entry “Assemble AR App.” Second place was awarded to Green Bay Packaging’s Great Lakes Division for their Label Stock Inverter entry. Third place was awarded to Acme Corrugated Box Co. for their Fully Integrated Finished Goods Conveyor System.

The general session culminated with an enlightening presentation by Jeffrey Ma on “Ten Times Better—Maximize Performance Through Big Data.”


Executive & Leadership


The Package Design Competition featured 86 entries in the corrugated, folding carton, and rigid box categories from 26 member companies.

The first day of the track featured keynote speaker Rocky Romanella on “Why Values Matter in Business.” Romanella discussed how leaders must demonstrate their values and set the tone from the top.

On day two, during “Being Obsessed With the Front Line,” Romanella explained that the agile business succeeds when the front line is fully committed, is experienced, and uses the tools available to them. He went on to state that the value proposition works when your front line is on a mission.

Digital Print

The track began with a packed house of nearly 100 participants to hear “Pathways to Digital—Where Is the Digital Market Headed?” presented by Jeff Wettersten and Kevin Karstedt, Karstedt Partners, and was followed by a panel discussion with boxmaker members who are currently using digital print in their companies. The panel featured Richard Brown, The Boxmaker; Robert Sweet, Bennett Packaging; John Kelley, Dusobox; Michael Drummond, Packrite; and George Moretti.

The second day, moderated by Cordes Porcher, featured a digital supplier panel discussion on the latest technology and sharing of knowledge and solutions. Panelists included Tim Harris, ColorHub; John Ballentine, Tango Press; Garrett Bradley, Gemini North America; Tom Green, Durst North America; Barb Willans, EFI; Whit Copley, Fuji Film; Eviatar Halevi, HP; and David Carmichael, Sun Automation.

Human Resources

The first day featured Brendan Kinzie, co-founder of GoGetter, presenting “The Numbers Behind the Shrinking Manufacturing Workforce, Overcoming These Challenges, and Building a Winning Culture.” Participants had a deep dive into the factors driving shortages in the packaging industry. Then they learned how to maximize employee retention by building a winning culture.

On the second day, Kinzie moderated a panel discussion on “How to Gain, Train, and Retain Employees in the Workplace,” featuring Rich Goldberg, President Container Group; Atoka Dumont, Volk Packaging; and Elsie Genova, Poly Print.

Risk Management

The first day of this workshop featured Justin David of InterWest Insurance Services LLC, and Doug Friel of Johnson, Kendall, and Johnson, presenting two views on “Risk Management: Protecting Your Assets in the Company.”

Day two offered “Risk Management: Protecting Your Company From a Cyberattack,” presented by Jesse Reynosa, computer scientist, FBI Las Vegas Division, Cyber Task Force.

Reynosa warned attendees that 47 percent of companies nationwide have discovered a cyber breach and 75 percent of websites are vulnerable. To protect company data, he encouraged everyone to maintain server backups.

This was followed by “Protecting Your Financial Assets,” presented by Mitch Klingher, Klingher Nadler LLC.

And the Winner Is …

Tuesday afternoon, the 2017 Independent Packaging Design Competition was open to attendees for viewing and offered the opportunity to vote for the coveted People’s Choice award. This year’s competition featured 86 entries in the corrugated, folding carton, and rigid box categories from 26 member companies. The package design competition offers companies a great opportunity to show off their creativity, innovation, and excellence in packaging.

On Tuesday evening, the winners in the competition were announced by Jim Nelson, AICC Package Design Competition Chair, during the evening’s networking reception.



First Place: Great Little Box Company — La Churreria 2/3 Churro Cup

Second Place: Utah Paperbox — Shari’s Gourmet Berries

Third Place: Great Little Box Company — Moonshine Doughnuts — Doughnut Party, Long Box

Retail Food & Beverages & Alcohol Packaging

First Place: Utah Paperbox — Uinta Ready Set Gose

Company Self-Promotion, Advertising, Promotional, Product Promotion, and Collectors’ Items (items not for sale)

First Place: Utah Paperbox — UPB Motion Coat

Improvement Over Former Package

First Place: Utah Paperbox — Real Fruit Juice Sweet’s Sticks

Second Place: Great Little Box Company — Temper Pastry Chocolate Collection

Family of Packages

First Place: Ray Products Inc. — Fort Scott Munitions

Second Place: Great Little Box Co. — Temper Pastry

Paperboard & Corrugated Package Unit

First Place: Abbott-Action Inc. — Salesmen Totem


Pharmaceuticals & Health Care Products/Nonpharmaceutical and Medical Devices

First Place: Ray Products Inc. — Medical Device Box

Personal Accessories, Jewelry & Eyewear

First Place: Ray Products Inc. — John Stephens Custom Crafted Calls


First Place: Central Package & Display — The Dodecahedron

Second Place: Ray Products Inc. — Christopher Elbow Chocolate Box

Paper Products, Stationery, Office Supplies & Retail Store

First Place: Central Package & Display — Heartland

Second Place: Ray Products Inc. — Coldwell Banker

Family of Packages

First Place (tie): Elegant Packaging — Baked by Melissa V Notch Slide Boxes

First Place (tie): Michigan City Paper Box Co. — Frango Mint

Third Place: Utah Paperbox — Cache Toffee Collection Family

Combination Rigid Set Box

First Place: Utah Paperbox — Cache Toffee Collection Medium

Second Place: Ray Products Inc. — Eminence E-liquid


Innovative Structural Design, Consumer & Industrial Focus

First Place: BoxMaster — 2-Bottle Vodka Carry Pack

Second Place: BoxMaster — Carry Case Displayer

Third Place: Great Little Box Company — Strange Fellows Brewing 4-Pack Crate

Honorable Mention: Wasatch Container — Falcon Performance Shock Shipper

Counter, Shelf, Power Wing & PDQ Displays

First Place: Commencement Bay Corrugated — House of Donuts Wholesale Box

Second Place: Skybox Packaging — Life Support Power Wing

Third Place: Bennett Packaging of Kansas City — Ridgelander Truck Counter Display

Floor Displays, Standees Designed to Be Used Without Product

First Place: Bennett Packaging of Kansas City — Galaxy S8 Launch Campaign

Second Place: Abbott-Action Inc. — Digital Spiderman Promotion

Floor Displays, Designed to Merchandise Product

First Place: Bay Cities Container — Transformers Display

Second Place: Abbott Action Inc. — Sharpie Floor Display

Third Place: Weber Display & Packaging — NJ Lottery Nutcracker Holiday Promo

Direct Printing on Combined Brown Board — Line/Screen Combination

First Place: Commencement Bay Corrugated — Xing Long Farm Sweet Potato/Ginger

Second Place: Sumter Packaging Corp. — Rewined — CF Monthly Box

Third Place: Wasatch Container — Honeyville Mailer

Flexo Print on Combined Board — Line Work & Nonprocess Screen

First Place (tie): Mid-Atlantic Packaging — Rusty Rail Seasonal 12-Pk.

First Place (tie): Supplyone Inc. — Almond Cluster Box

Second Place: Skybox Packaging — Next Generation Super Duty

Third Place: Sumter Packaging Corp. — Terressentia — Rising Creek Bourbon

Flexo Print on Combined Board — Standard or Modified Process Colors Used in the Reproduction of Built Color Images — Cartoon Art or Computer Art

First Place: Supplyone Inc. — Chicken Box

Flexo Print on Combined Board — Standard or Modified Process Colors Used in the

Reproduction of Photographs or Original Art Continuous Tone Images

First Place: Commencement Bay Corrugated — Lovers Lane Cherry Top

Second Place: Weber Display & Packaging — Cherrydale Gold Fundraising Box

Third Place: Mid-Atlantic Packaging — Lakeside Organic Peppers Tray

Best Application of Spot or Full Label With or Without Direct Print

First Place: BoxMaster — Beer Advent Calendar

Second Place: Mid-Atlantic Packaging — WL Gore Elixir Sales Kit

Third Place: Phoenix Packaging — Andrew Pearson Design

Digital Printing on Combined Board

First Place: Abbott-Action Inc. — Ocean Spray Mocktails Pallet Skirt

Second Place: Sumter Packaging Corp. — Gillespie’s Peanuts 10-oz. Display

Third Place: Bennett Packaging of Kansas City — AICC 2017 Packaging Design Competition Invitation

Form and Function: Using Corrugated Outside of Packaging & Displays

First Place: Packrite — Self-Promotional Magazine Holder

Best Corrugated Self-Promotion

First Place: Corrugated Container Corp. — CCC Vintage Box Truck Self Promotion

Second Place: Lewisburg Printing Co. — Halloween Customer Gift

Third Place: Abbott-Action Inc. — The Beast Salesmen Kit

Honorable Mention: Sumter Packaging Corp. — MAG-Lite House

Best Use of Corrugated Replacing Other Substrate (Plastic, etc.)

First Place: Packrite — Self-Promotional Koozies

Corrugated Art & Design

First Place: Sumter Packaging Corp. — Eclipse Day Skeeball


Corrugated Graphics

Supplyone Inc. — Almond Cluster Box

Corrugated Structure

Bay Cities Container — Transformers Display

Folding Carton

Great Little Box Company — La Churreria 2/3 Churro Cup

Rigid Box

Central Package & Display — Heartland


Sumter Packaging Corp. — Eclipse Day Skeeball