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News & Press: Pressroom

AICC Spring Meeting Disrupts Phoenix

Friday, April 27, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Alyce Ryan
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AICC, The Independent Packaging Association, hosted over 600 people during the Spring Meeting, April 16-18, in Phoenix, Ariz. The Meeting explored the forces of disruption regarding e-commerce, retail, technology and the containerboard and paperboard markets.


The Sales Managers Forum, a pre-conference two-day seminar, which began Sunday, April 15, was the first event to bring members together. Lead by Dr. Andrew Hurley, Assistant Professor of Packaging Science, Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design and Graphics at Clemson University, and Wayne Stevenson, Master's student of Packaging Science at Clemson University explained the importance of understanding the prospects and research. The methodology explained how to use metrics to improve conversion rates.


 “The Convention Content Sub-committee lead by Matt Davis, Packaging Express, along with our incredible AICC staff did an unbelievable job with our goal to disrupt the format of our Spring Meeting and create an even more engaging environment for our attendees to network and share best practices. Our attendees left the meeting with a firm understanding of the future paper market supply dynamics along with the outlook for e-commerce and retail brick and mortar stores. Members were also provided insight on the packaging designs and requirements to create engaging and interactive packaging that our customers will soon demand.  We have successfully educated and motivated our Independent members to invest in the people, technology and equipment to continue their growth and prosperity in tomorrow’s marketplace,” said Al Hoodwin, President, Michigan City Paper Box and AICC Chairman.


The revamped format, which added a general session and two new networking events, received rave review by attendees. Additionally, new technology was used to allow members to check-in/ print their own badges and use a meeting app to participate in live-polls, ask speakers questions, and message other attendees. 


Keynote presentations offered inspiration and new ideas to attendees:

  • John Rossman, former Amazon executive explained how Digital Disruption continues to change the world.
  • Douglas Stephens, Retail and Consumer Futurist discussed the future of brick and mortar stores with “Re-engineering Retail: The Future of Selling in a Post-Digital World.”   
  • Ed Rensi, Former President & CEO of McDonalds, Philanthropist and NASCAR Enthusiast, shared decades of experience with attendees and shared the secrets of his success.


Other General Session topics included:

  • Overview of the Rapid Growth of E-Commerce & It's Growing Impact on the U.S. Corrugated, Containerboard, Paperboard & Recycled Industries, by Matt Elhardt, Vice President, Business Development, Fisher International, Inc.
  • Industry Panel Discussion: Suppliers’ Point of View: What are the Disruptive Forces facing the Global Containerboard Market
  • Tax Cuts & the Job Acts, by Mitch Klingher, CPA & Partner, Klingher Nadler LLC
  • Supplier Innovations Panel – Disruptive Technologies


Workshops included:

  • Fluted vs. Paperboard workshop lead by Tom Weber, AICC Folding Carton Technical Advisor, and Ralph Young, AICC Corrugated Technical Advisor, was a facilitated discussion to understand, support, and further develop the use of fluted materials as a substitute for paperboard in the manufacturing of both traditional and highly specialized folding cartons and rigid boxes. The session began with Al Hoodwin, Michigan City Paper Box Company, explaining his recent experience with microflute.


 Panelists and additional topics included:

  • The 5 Elements of Remarkable Customer Experiences, with moderator Doug Stephens, encouraged small groups to develop something game changing and shared how the world’s most respected brands go about designing and delivering exceptional customer service.
  • Flexo-Folder Gluers experts, Scott Sander, ISOWA; Dick Olsen, MHI; and Marc Farrar, Bobst North America, discussed speed of machinery, the benefits, and ROI in a discussion moderated by Mitch Klingher in High Speed FFG Panel Discussion & Equipment Justification Methodology.
  • John Lingle, Schwarz Partners, moderated a conversation with Jay Carman, StandFast Packaging Products; Joe Palmeri, Jamestown Container Companies; and John Perullo, CSI about Paper Mill & Sheet Feeder Partnerships: How Can They Make Independents' More Successful.


A plant tour at Smurfit Kappa Phoenix was also attended by more than 90 members.


Terri-Lynn Levesque, Office Manager, Royal Containers Ltd., said “in keeping with this year’s AICC theme of strength in numbers, AICC certainly did just that at the Spring meeting in Arizona.  With a new format, an extra general session, more industry relevant speakers, additional networking events which included a late-night mixer & great conversation over food.  I had the opportunity to connect with more people at this meeting than previous meetings combined. They really focused on the ‘customer experience’ and it showed in every aspect of the meeting.”


Over the three days, more than 40 new members or first-time meeting attendees were treated to a special networking event and reception, as well as a breakfast, with AICC Ambassadors, seasoned AICC Meeting attendees, to help them integrate into the AICC family and make the most of their meeting experience.


Jacqueline Henderson, Sales, Abox Packaging, said, “as a new member and ‘first timer’ at an AICC Meeting I was pleasantly surprised with the warm family style welcome I received from each and every person I came in contact with in Phoenix. I came in really not knowing what to expect but left feeling like I had a ton of new friends that are ready and willing to help me at any time.  It is impossible for me to express how thankful I am for AICC. I know I have made friends that will last a lifetime.”


Meeting attendees can request recordings of the General Sessions and the Paper Mill & Sheet Feeder Workshop by contacting Laura Mihalick at 703.836.2422 or  


AICC’s next National Meeting will be Corrugated Week, a joint meeting and trade show with TAPPI, September 24-27, Indianapolis, Ind.


Wrap Up Video:




Representative of Three Precious Miracles with the contribution check from money raised during the 5th Annual Independents Cup Charity Golf Tournament.


Over 200 people attended the new networking lunch. 


Doug Stephens, Retail & Consumer Futurist, and AICC Keynote presenter. 


Over 90 members attended the plant tour hosted by Smurfit Kappa Phoenix


Kevin Ausburn, SMC Packaging, and Ralph Young, AICC Corrugated Technical Advisor, moderated a General Session Panel:  Suppliers’ Point of View:  What are the Disruptive Forces facing the Global


The Spring Meeting General Sessions offered information and inspiration to hundreds of attendees.