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News & Press: Pressroom

The Lights of Las Vegas Shine on AICC Members

Friday, October 13, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Alyce Ryan
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Over 700 attendees and guests converged at The Encore Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, September 25-27, 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.

Sunday, September 24, 3017

The AICC 2017 Designers’ Lab kicked off on Sunday at the Encore Hotel. Attendance was up significantly this year with thirty-four designers participating from AICC’s member companies and six students. The student attendees were winners of the AICC Student Packaging Design Competition or recipients of the J. Richard Troll Memorial Scholarship and hailed from the following schools: Clemson University, Dunwoody College of Technology, Michigan State University, and The University of Texas at Arlington. 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 to show off their talents.

The event kicked off with presentations from the sponsoring companies that included Arden Software North America, ESKO, Gerber Technologies, 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, Sweets 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 13oz bags of Sweets Taffy. The lab featured two functioning CAD tables provided by ESKO and Gerber Technologies, a digital printer provided by Xante, and software and computers sponsored by Arden Software North America and ESKO. 

The Emerging Leaders training event also took place on Sunday and featured Rocky Romanella who presented an in-depth session on Why Values Matter in Business. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Selling Digital Print Training kicked off on Monday morning featuring presenter George Moretti. This one day course was a teaser leading up to a new two-day course on Digital Print Sales to be held in 2018. 

PackExpo Las Vegas 2017 officially opened 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 over 30,000 packaging professionals from over 75 countries from around the world. The show featured over 2,000 exhibitors. All AICC meeting attendees were encouraged to attend the show and received complimentary admission. 

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

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The day kicked off with an early morning eye opener session on "Management Succession—Planning for Future Sustainability & Success: Thinking outside Family.” The session featured an interactive panel discussion of owners comprised of James Haglund, Central Package & Display; Kim Nelson, Royal Containers; and John Bird, JB Machinery who discussed how they came to the decision to bring in successors outside the family. The session was moderated by Gene Marino, Rusken Packaging. 

The general session began with Tony Schleich, AICC 2016-2017 Chairman, welcoming the group to Las Vegas and the 2017 Annual Meeting. 

Next Jim Nelson, AICC’s Package Design Competition Committee Chairman, announced the winners and presented awards to the 2017 Annual Student Design Competition winners that were in attendance from Clemson, the University of Texas Arlington and Dunwoody College. 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 Gonzalez, Cartro, 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 Rocky Romanella’s recently published book Balanced Leadership – Tightening the Lug Nuts.

Following the general session, workshops took place on the following topics: 

  • "Why Values Matter in Business” presented by Rocky Romanella, 3Sixty Management Services
  • "Pathways to Digital – Where is the Digital Market Headed” presented by Jeff Wettersten and Kevin Kardstedt, Kardstedt Partners, and 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, Innovative Intelligent Solutions LLC. 
  • "Risk Management: Protecting Your Assets in the Company” presented by Justin David, InterWest Insurance Services, LLC, and Doug Friel, Johnson, Kendall and Johnson 
  • "The numbers behind the shrinking manufacturing workforce and overcoming these challenges” presented by Brendan Kinzie, Go-Getter. 

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 Chairman, during the evenings networking reception. 

Wednesday, September 27

The day kicked off with Day 2 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 Gene Marino, Rusken Packaging. 
This was followed by the second day of workshop sessions including:

  • "Being Obsessed with the Front Line presented by Rocky Romanella, 3Sixty Management Services
  • "Risk Management: Protecting Your Company from a Cyber Attack,” presented by Jesse Reynosa, Computer Scientist, FBI Las Vegas Division, Cyber Task Force, and "Protecting Your Financial Assets,” presented by Mitch Klingher, Klingher Nadler, LLC. 
  • Digital supplier panel discussion on the latest technology and to share knowledge and solutions. Panelists included Tim Harris, Color Hub; 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. The session was moderated by Cordes Porcher, Corrugated Synergies Intl.
  • Panel Discussion on "How to Gain, Train and Retain Employees in the Workplace” featuring panelists Rich Goldberg, President Container Co.; Atoka Dumont, Volk Packaging; and Elsie Genova, Poly Print. 
The closing general session began with the board elections and "changing of the guard” as Tony Schleich, Lawrence Paper Company, American Packaging Division, and 2016-2017 Chairman, handed over the reins to Al Hoodwin, Michigan City Paperbox Co., and the 2017-20178 AICC Chairman. 

Next Jim Nelson, AICC Package Design Competition Chairman, 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 Chairman, 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 – Great Lakes Division for their Label Stock Inverter entry and 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.” 

AICC will be posting all available PowerPoint presentations (as submitted by speakers for inclusion) on the AICC website at in the near future. Video recordings of the general sessions will be available via request. 

SAVE THE DATE: The AICC 2018 Spring Meeting & 5th Annual Independents’ Cup Charity Golf Tournament is being held April 16-18, 2018 at the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass Resort in Chandler, AZ. 

For more information on the AICC 2017 Annual Meeting, Design Lab & Package Design Competition, please contact Cindy Huber at or Laura Mihalick at or 877-836-2422.