PPC Spring Meeting Highlights Strategies and Leadership
The Paperboard Packaging Council’s (PPC) annual Spring Outlook and Strategies Conference was held last week in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, highlighting the latest opportunities, trends and leadership strategies in the folding carton and rigid box segments of the packaging industry. PPC Members also had numerous networking opportunities throughout the event, and one member was honored for its standout safety record.
The meeting opened with a presentation from Sam Richter, a sales expert whose opening discussion focused on the importance of sales staff knowing about their prospective clients in advance, and strategies for quickly locating this valuable information. Richter explained that a common pitfall in the sales process is when salespeople spend too much time talking about themselves. Instead, he said that finding out something about a prospect and spending time allowing them to open up about their interests is a better strategy to develop a personal connection that can help a salesperson stand out from their competition.
Richter outlined a variety of methods to obtain information about people through online searches, including how to receive better results from a Google search, to searching what he referred to as “the hidden web” to find information that may not come up in a standard search engine. By entering a sales meeting with information such as organizations a prospect belongs to, where they went to school, or activities they like to take part in, it can help a salesperson stand out from competition that is pitching similar products.
“Your company’s reputation is what gets you in the room,” Richter said. “But once you’re there, they’re buying you.”
The first day of the meeting also included speakers with presentations specific to the packaging industry. Mike Ferrari, founder and president of packaging and printing consulting firm Ferrari Innovation Solutions, offered insight into six specific trends impacting the packaging industry. A key theme among these trends was the rise of digital printing and how it can be advantageous for folding carton printers.
For example, Ferrari detailed how digital can help with packaging challenges, including inventory management, speed to market, the rise of short runs, meeting brand demand for customized or personalized packaging, and the rise of ecommerce. Regarding inventory cost, Ferrari explained that one of the biggest wastes in packaging stems from inventory obsolescence, and with digital, brands can order the exact quantity of packages they need when they need it.
Speed to market is another trend becoming increasingly important, and Ferrari explained that digital printing allows packages to be produced immediately to reflect current events. For example, he showed how a golf ball brand produced golf ball boxes branded with the logo of a championship-winning sports team right after the clinching game. Similarly, he said that digital printing technology can allow pharmaceutical brands to quickly update their packaging when medical regulations change.
Following Ferrari, Mary Anne Hansan, president of The Paper and Packaging Board, provided an update on the organization’s latest campaigns supporting the use of paper and paper-based packaging. Hansan explained that Paper and Packaging Board’s previous efforts in its How Life Unfolds campaign, which included the sentimental “Letters to Dad” commercial, were largely successful, but lacked in highlighting specific paper and paper-based packaging products.
For this year’s campaign, Hansan demonstrated how the Board created two animated characters, one that personifies a case of paper and the other bringing a corrugated box to life. The Paper and Packaging Board did extensive research that showed that consumers equate feelings of accomplishment with the usage of paper, and specifically highlighted the importance of packaging in protecting the products they value. Hansan then showed the television and online commercials starring these characters that represent these themes.
“We realized the use of packaging is tapping into something different than paper – a value of peace of mind and security,” Hansan said.
To close the first day’s sessions, Alan Beaulieu, president of ITR Economics, provided an overview of the economic outlook for the coming years and its impact on the paperboard packaging industry. Beaulieu explained that ITR Economics is predicting a brief recession in 2019, followed by an economic uptick in the 2020s. Specifically, he mentioned that health and personal care stores will see a slowdown in 2019, as will the beverage industry. However, Beaulieu said companies that are selling packaging into grocery stores will continue to see positive growth.
On Thursday evening, PPC members took part in an awards banquet, during which the association presented its Safety Award, given to the member plant with the best safety record over the past year. This year’s award went to Graphic Packaging International’s Portland, Ore., facility.
The PPC Spring Meeting concluded on Friday, April 13, with a presentation on the importance of developing a strong corporate culture and strategies on how to develop a positive culture. David Friedman, CEO of High Performing Culture, described strategies for business leaders to intentionally create a culture that fosters a positive corporate environment. Friedman explained that a frequent misconception that companies have is that culture is created through establishing core values. While these values are important, Friedman said that it can be more effective to outline specific behaviors for employees that are related to core values.
“The problem with values, because they are so abstract in nature, they mean different things to different people,” Friedman said. “Behavior is easier to teach, coach and to give feedback on because they’re actionable.”
The next meeting of the Paperboard Packaging Council will take place at its annual Fall Meeting and Leadership Conference, which will be held from Oct. 24-26 at The Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta.