Taking risks is the first step toward claiming an uncertain or difficult-to-navigate space, but that space is where true visionaries can plant a stake. In leading the industry, AICC often assumes responsibility for preparing members for leadership, helping them explore the what-ifs. Radical ideas sometimes come from the board of directors; other times, they form around a meeting of AICC’s professional staff in which one asks, “Can this be done? Can we pull it off?”
So AICC asks you, its members, to put on that all-important green hat of Edward de Bono’s Six Hats of Thinking (see page 31 in BoxScore’s new “Good For Business” section), and envision new concepts for the New Year. Take a leap into the unconsidered, and imagine what might be possible. With your wisdom, drive, and vision, and our unwavering dedication to your success, together we can accomplish the remarkable.
Branching Out into New Territory
Imagine AICC as a tree that’s rooted in its commitment to members. Every year, we welcome a new chairman who brings a refreshed vision that nourishes those roots. His or her vision makes us fuller and stronger, and takes us to the next level of achievement.
When we look back on 2013, we do so with a sense of satisfaction for dreams realized and successes created. With Chairman Chuck Fienning and the board, AICC delivered new products and programs such as the new AICC Sustainability Audit for Improving Operational Efficiencies (available on DVD through the AICC store), and made other significant achievements such as the launch of AICC’s Packaging University.
In addition, National Meeting attendance increased 8 percent with AICC’s new Box Plant Special pricing and entries in AICC’s Packaging Design Competition. Membership renewals reached an all-time high of 95 percent, and new membership continues to exceed expectations, with the Association attracting nearly 10 percent more new members in 2013. AICC also experienced success at its events, with a 6 percent increase in attendance at the Mexico Annual Meeting and significant increases in attendance at regional meetings. The association also launched a Spanish-language website for Latin America, www.aiccbox.mx.
Growing the AICC tree can’t be done without tapping more new resources. Members, elected officers, staff, and advisers form the leadership matrix of every successful association. While they may take different paths toward growth, a chairman and board of directors always lead the way for a professional staff who makes the vision a reality.
Mark Mathes, AICC’s newly elected chairman, brings with him consistency and high expectations, having served on the board and executive committee for more than six years in the roles of region director, director at large, and vice chairman. He will bring his own vision for the future and a distinct plan for the new year, and what follows are a few ways AICC will forge ahead in 2014.
Delivering New Products and Services
In 2013, AICC launched its online Packaging University with a single course: Safety Basics. While the university was slow getting off the ground and costs were high, we had a hunch that members would come, since they rated the topic the single most important need in the industry. When AICC began development of another course—Corrugated Basics—members hoping to train new employees showed interest.
AICC will debut more courses in 2014 to identify itself as the industry leader in online education. AICC is creating new technical training webinars such as Digital Print, AICC’s Flexo Month, What Converters Need to Know About Edge Crush, and The Future of Lightweight Container Board. These are just a few examples of the programs members can expect in the months ahead. The association will also introduce its Equipment Justification Guide, Onboarding New Employees, and an Operational Audit Tool Kit in 2014.
Meetings and events will remain central to promoting education, networking, and idea exchange among industry leaders. The Mexico Board of Directors has mapped out a plan for growth in that region, including the establishment of a Mexico office of AICC. The AICC Mexico 2014 Annual Meeting, set for May 14–16, 2014 at the Hotel Riu Plaza Guadalajara, is expected to exceed 2013 goals.
AICC will reposition its Golf Tournament, launching the new Independents Cup—soon to be a coveted award for golfers. The first tournament will be held in Nashville, Tenn., during the Spring Meeting. It also plans to raise $50,000 for the J. Richard Troll Memorial Scholarship and other charities at every National Meeting. And the Industry Association Summit will bring associations together to further strengthen the packaging industry (see sidebar below for a list of invitees).
Promoting healthy, long-lasting careers will be a special focus for AICC in 2014. The Emerging Leaders peer group, introduced in Las Vegas in September, has already garnered dozens of applications. The mentor/protégé program launches early this year, and promises to be rewarding for everyone.
Finally, part of our continuous commitment is to enhance communication with members so that you can present ideas in an open, professional forum. In order to do so, AICC has contracted with The YGS Group, an expert publishing team based in York, Pa., to help us produce BoxScore magazine, build a companion microsite for the magazine, and execute the iBulletin biweekly e-newsletter. You can help keep the magazine and related vehicles “by independents for independents” by contributing story ideas, suggesting subject-matter experts, and sending press releases to BoxScore@theYGSgroup.com. Let’s keep that communication strategy strong.
At the start of a new year, the torch has been passed, but AICC stands strong and in a renewed position to lead. We will be standing by you, too, to help you lead your company to new, uncharted heights.
“From its inception, AICC has relied on the active partnership of converters and suppliers, and 40 years later, our members still enjoy the benefits of this relationship,” says A. Steven Young, president of AICC. “AICC’s leadership has always included the supplier members, and their participation in our educational programming and events is critical to the success of our members as they seek to increase the efficiency of their operations.”
How will you lead your company in 2014? Will you create a new vision or follow the current path? How will you translate that vision to associates and shareholders? How will you convince the naysayers and the doubters? Take the risk, lead, and go further, faster than any company or leader before you.
Taryn Pyle is director of marketing and communications at AICC and is editor of BoxScore magazine. Pyle can be reached at (703) 535-1391 or email@example.com.