By Craig Lauer | May 26, 2020
This letter originally appeared in the May/June 2020 issue of BoxScore magazine.
By Michael D’Angelo, President, AICC, The Independent Packaging Association
“My head is spinning.” I must have received more than 50 emails in the past month that included that phrase or something similar. Phone calls, too. COVID-19 has created such a period of uncertainty, and AICC members want to know the latest, share what they’ve learned, and interact with their friends and colleagues. Multiple government agencies have come out with a dizzying number of orders, limitations, programs, and directives. Some of these change from day to day, and there is no end in sight.
AICC’s great staff has responded by creating forums and new media to bring our member companies together in ways we had never before been considered. Canceling the Spring Meeting and postponing SuperCorrExpo to August 2021 are unprecedented decisions that had to necessarily be taken. Videoconferencing with nearly 400 AICC members attending is certainly a new experience, as are AICC webinars with more than 150 attendees. Effective as they are for providing vital information, they will never replace what former AICC President Steve Young has so accurately termed the “handshake” nature of our business.
I have a favorite saying that I use from time to time: Know Your Why. We know our why—it’s you.
We have to tip our hats to AICC’s member companies. You are essential businesses—shockingly, it takes a state to declare you so—that have magnificently responded to the demands on supply chains brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. I have seen and heard firsthand the concern that you have for your employees, your customers, your business partners, and each other. We have to tip our hats to the employees who show up for work on the production lines that keep everything going. We have to tip our hats also to their office colleagues, who have to navigate through challenges that come from working out of a home office that doubles as the kitchen table, with the kids in the next room. Graphic Packaging, although an integrated company, posted an image on social media with the following message that, I believe, encapsulates what the independent converter and their suppliers have done and are doing: “Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear hairnets and safety glasses—the dedicated men and women at our mills and plants who are working tirelessly to ensure food gets into homes.”
Heroes for doing their job under conditions we could not have imagined six months ago. Heroes before we even consider the masks, PPE, hand sanitizer, and other products AICC member companies are producing for their employees and for the health care workers and first responders in their communities.
I’ve been thinking a lot about teams since this crisis began. Your teams, the AICC team, the team that we all become on a video conference, a webinar, or an in-person meeting—the industrywide independent printing and converting team. Vala Afshar once wrote, “We are not a team because we work together. We are a team because we trust, respect, and care for each other.”
That is the strength of AICC.