Board Converting News, January 11, 2021

BoardConverting Serving the North American Corrugated and Folding Carton Industries for 37 years January 11, 2021 VOL. 37, NO. 2

Converter Outlook 2021, Part 1: Demand Continues In Pandemic As is our annual tradition, Board Converting News solicits a represen- tative sample of the continent’s independent converters for a glimpse into their minds as they embark on another year in the ever-dynamic corrugated, folding carton and rigid box making industries. The coro- navirus pandemic has affected all facets of life, both globally and here in North America and it’s never been clearer that boxes and packaging absolutely fit the description of an “essential business.” The converters here have shared their business strategies, political views and industry forecasts. They have also raised some questions – and provided some expert analysis – for the year that will be 2021: ACME CORRUGATED BOX CO. Hatboro, Pennsylvania: Bob Cohen reports, “As I write this article, we are experiencing an almost surreal box demand surge. The pandemic “As most converters in the market, we are a main beneficiary in this ever-changing way consumers buy products. The question is, with a coronavirus vaccine now here and a possible return to normalcy on the horizon, what will demand look like in six months? Well for one thing, we know there will be some movement back to retail. We also know that companies like Amazon are intent on reducing their packaging ex- cesses. Most of us will experience the change in demand as consumer buying trends increase the likelihood of other competing materials. We also know that a new administration will focus on climate change. How our industry will factor into that “sustainability” equation is unknown at this point. It would be silly not to think that we will not be affected. “Our industry has a story to tell about recyclability but is it an old one? The other issue is the rush to find value out of old assets. We see that as the white paper industry is in decline there is a rush to repur- pose paper machines both here and in Europe. It has been calculated that by 2023, we will have over 2.2 million tons of new production domestically, adding about 5.9 percent to the total annual mill produc- tion. That doesn’t include unannounced conversions and doesn’t take CONTINUED ON PAGE 24 Bob Cohen of 2020 has added a sense of uncertainty to a once predictable way consumers traditionally source and then purchase personal require- ments. With retail being out of the question for many consumers, the obvious default position has been the internet. Simply put, the change in buying habits has dramatically impacted the demand for containerboard and for the boxes produced as a by-product.

WHAT’S INSIDE 6 AICC To Offer Webinar Series On Data Management 10 ISM: Manufacturing, Economy Grow Again In December 12 Ross Ausburn, Co-Founder Of SMC Packaging, Dies At 88 16 NAM: Manufacturing Added $2.33 Trillion To Economy In Q3 American Packaging currently employs 43 and expects to add additional jobs in the fu- ture. Lawrence Paper Company dates back to 1882. The expansion of American Packaging will help continue its growth into the future. “Since merging with Lawrence Paper Company in January of 2012, we have taken advantage of their many resources to facil- itate our growth,” said Tony Schleich, Presi- dent/General Manager of American Packag- ing. “None of this would have been possible, however, without the cooperation of the City of South Hutchinson, and we cannot thank them enough.” American Packaging Corp. To Expand Facility In KS South Hutchinson, Kansas based American Packaging Corporation, a division of Law- rence Paper Company, recently announced a 100,000-square-foot expansion to its current facility in South Hutchinson. As privately held independent companies, American Packaging and Lawrence Paper are manufacturers and distributors of corrugat- ed shipping boxes, industrial packaging and point-of-sale displays to businesses through- out the Midwest. Work on the expansion, which will allow space for new equipment, began in December 2020.


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C u r r e n t O p e r a t o r E x p e r i e n c e

S T E P 1

M a c h i n e t y p e G o a l s / E x p e c t a t i o n s

I s s u e s


P l a n 2 d a y s w i t h i n y o u r s c h e d u l e

S T E P 2

1 d a y c l a s s r o o m a n d 1 d a y a t m a c h i n e


1 - B o x S e t u p C a l i b r a t i o n T o o l i n g

S T E P 3


T r o u b l e s h o o t i n g

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January 11, 2021

AVERAGE CONTAINERBOARD PRICES The average prices reported are tabulated from prices PAID by various sources throughout the United States the week previous to issue. Prices in some areas of the country may be higher or lower than the tabulated average. The prices tabulated here are intended only for purposes of reference. They do not connote any commitment to sell any material at the indi- cated average. Transactions may be completed at any time at a price agreed upon by seller and purchaser.

REGION E. Coast Midwest Southeast Southwest

42# Kraft liner $885.00-890.00 $900.00-910.00 $900.00-910.00 $900.00-910.00 $930.00-940.00 $903.00-912.00

26# Semi-Chem. Medium

Short Ton Del. Short Ton Del. Short Ton Del. Short Ton Del. Short Ton Del. Short Ton Del.

$820.00-850.00 $835.00-855.00 $835.00-855.00 $835.00-855.00 $865.00-875.00 $838.00-858.00

West Coast U.S. Average

SHEET PRICES BY REGION (AVERAGE) Per 1MSF, local delivery included, 50MSF single item order, truckload delivery. Sheets

E. Coast Midwest South-SW S. CA N.CA/WA-OR US Aver.

200# 275#



$62.69 $82.80

$85.35 119.54

$73.13 101.29












107.46 118.45

114.69 129.32

116.54 137.25 117.82 145.56





CANADIAN SHEET PRICES (AVERAGE) In Canadian Dollars, per 1MSF, local delivery included, under 50MSF single item order, truckload delivery. 200# 275# Oyster UC 275#DW 350#DW $78.56 $99.18 $9.00 $96.32 $105.83 CANADIAN LINERBOARD & MEDIUM The average prices reported are tabulated from prices PAID by various sources throughout Canada. Prices may be higher or lower in various areas of the country. The prices tabulated here are intended only for purposes of reference. They do not connote any commitment to sell any material at the indicated average. Transactions may be completed at any time at a price agreed upon by seller and purchaser. Prices are Canadian $ and per metric ton.

42# Kraft Liner 26#

Semi-Chem Medium

East West

$920.00 $965.00

$910.00 $945.00


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January 11, 2021

AICC To Offer Webinar Series On Data Management

AICC, The Independent Packaging Association, is offering a new four-part webinar series on Data Management with instructor Tom Weber. The series will be held once a week over four weeks beginning Thursday, January 28. In a data driven culture, decisions are made based on fact. Rather than relying on hunches or “how things have always been done,” the company can use real-time infor- mation, often in conjunction with predictive forecasting and historical data, to determine the best next steps. Data driven decisions allow companies to efficiently identify po- tential risks, new opportunities, and achieve better results. During the series, each week will offer new insights on using data for a different area: manpower, machinery, methods, and materials. Attendees will explore barriers created by siloed Op- erating Systems in order to gain full visibility into what’s happening on the shop floor and in the field, learn meth- ods to predict problems in advance utilizing sensor data, understand how to focus on mission-critical methods and reduce costs with KPI data, and provide accurate forecast- ing and demand. Companies implementing the lessons learned can see reduced machine downtime from enabling predictive CONTINUED ON PAGE 8

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December 28, 2020

40 ft of paper travel from preheater to hot plates 3 seconds of heat, glue and bonding 1 chance to get it right! the ZONE

Design & Production

Chicago Electric offers 10 technology solutions to control ‘the Zone’ CORRUGATOR Sectoral preheating plate

Our sectoral preheating plates provide direct heat by means of a double steam circuit, allowing for efficient heating in hard-to-access locations, as well as to act as a steam shower to open the paper’s fibre, making it receptive to absorbing the heat and the glue.

This translates into increased speed and improved quality of the cardboard sheet finish.

The system’s main advantages are as follows:

• The plate may only be used to heat, only to humidify, or both options at the same time. • The plate is sectored, which allows for applying humidity to the sections. • It provides temperature in previously inaccessible locations and near the location needed. • It compensates the loss of temperature dissipated due to distance, speed or limitations of the exiting preheaters. • Quick transferring of heat to the paper. • The combination of the hot plate and steam shower allows for providing heat even to the hardest papers to heat. • Does not dry out the paper. • Possibility of operating as a humidifier and pre-conditioner. • Maintains and improves the fibre’s elasticity. • Acts according to the operator’s needs. • Facilitates the paper’s hygroscopy to absorb the glue and improve rubberising.


1. Wrap Arm - Position & Temperature 2. Preheater Direct Drive


3. Steam Plate 4. Contact Roll 5. Glue Machine Direct Drive Touch Productivity Issue—Glue Unit Many glue units run with a rider roll or a guiding bar system. The rider roll with paper gap allows a precise glue application, but requires frequent Contact Roll


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calibrations and settings. Bar systems avoid this, but compensate this with the risk of exces- sive glue application. The system contains many wearing parts. Solution The contact roll combines the ad antage of both systems and ensures minimum contact between board and applicator roll. The system uses small pneumatic cylinders in order to achieve a “soft touch.”

6. Gap Control 7. Curved Plate 8. Roller Shoe Press When it comes to a short-term increas of web tension, spring loaded systems with shoes or airpressure activated system have problems in compensating these. The system is lifted for a short time. This may result in de-lamination and in the ‘double kiss’ effect. Solution For a defined and exact bonding point of the web fiv weight rollers will be installed usually over the first flat hotplate of the heating section. The rolls are mounted into a frame, which is actuated by means of two pneumatic cylinders. P oductivity Issu —Double Kiss Bonding




Roller Shoe


9. Thin Wall Hot Plates 10. Pressure System Benefits —Exact glue application due to defined contact of applicator roll to web. Web is in contact to less flute tips compared to bar systems. • High precision glue application • Less moisture applied to web —No wear of shoes and springs —No adjustment of shoes or paper gap —Uniform glue application over entire working width for all flutes by use of pneumatic cylinders instead of springs — Less contamination by paper dust and glue remains —No jam of board because of web breaks caused by splice joints going through 630-784-0800 Benefits —Rollers secure exact defined first point of contact of liner and single-faced board - No double kiss —Frame design avoids unintended lifting of roller shoe (compared to spring or air loaded systems) - No double kiss —Pressure can be increased or released for special grades or products 490 Tower Blvd., Carol Stream, IL Contact Chicago Electric to GET IT RIGHT 630-784-0800 Solution The ProPress system ensures an optimum heat transfer to the board. It offers a wide range of set- tings. The loadi g pressure can be varied, the number of shoes can be lifted in accordance t the line speed. The outer shoes can be lifted in accordance to the paper width. The shoe bars will be delivered pre-assembled for a short installation time. —Liftable for easy paper infeed and for cleaning of the machine —Position adjustable in paper direction to avoid grooves in hotplate Press Productivity Issue—Poor Heat Transfer Rollers are usually limiting the heat transfer, since they often have contact mainly on the edges of the plates due to wear or bent plates. They also cause often loss of caliper and bearing need to be replaced frequently. Airpressure actuated systems can only supply a limited pressure and have com- pared to shoe systems a closed surface. Pressure Shoe

Plate vity Issue—Poor Heat Control l hotplates are slow to react to pressure due to high steam volume and massive y also have high heat radiation and heat profile. Worn plates can damage crease edge crush.

Thin-Wall Hot Plates

t by peripheral drilled hot plates. anufactured out of special wear and nt steel, through which a continuous is drilled, with one inlet and one outlet. ecured by a massive steel frame.

ance from steam to paper surface results in fast heat flow


Box Shipments ( U.S. Corrugated Product Shipments) Industry Shipments In Billions of Square Feet Month November 2020

maintenance, increased production capacity, lower mate- rial consumption, greater receptiveness to consumer de- mand, and improved ability to customize products. Tom Weber, AICC Technical Advisor, has 39 years of di- verse packaging experience. He is recognized by industry peers to be knowledgeable and well informed in all sales, marketing, and production processes, various types of plastic and paperboard converting equipment, and techni- cally proficient in Leadership Training and Six Sigma/LEAN methodologies. Weber managed multiple facilities in oper- ations, managed regional business units as General Man- ager, and successfully directed a privately held company as its President. Registration for Data Management is $100 for mem- bers and $300 for non-members. This webinar is part of the All Access Pass. Pass holders can use their promo code to register at no additional cost. For one payment of $1,695, participating companies are given a code that all employees can use to register for every webinar sched- uled through August 2021. With more than 50 webinars scheduled and recorded, the All Access Pass represents a value of $12,500. Learn more at . Visit to register for the webinar. Questions can be directed to Taryn Pyle, Director of Education & Leadership Development, tpyle@aiccbox. org, (703) 836-2422.



Percent Change Avg Week Percent Change

2020 2019

33.612 32.060


8.845 8.437


Industry Total

Year-to Date

November 2020



Percent Change Avg Week Percent Change

2020 2019

371.553 362.151


8.008 7.839


Industry Total

Containerboard Consumption (Thousands of Tons)



Percent Change Year-to-Date Percent Change

2020 2019

2.6756 2.5847


30.3291 29.7345


Container Board Inventory - Corrugator Plants (Thousands of Tons)

Corrugator Plants Only


Percent Change Weeks of Supply

Percent Change

Nov. Oct.

1.7912 1.8156


2.5 2.6


Shipping Days




2020 2019

19 19

232 231

SOURCE: Fibre Box Association


January 11, 2021



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ISM: Manufacturing, Economy Grow Again In December

November figure of 61.7 percent. The Inventories Index registered 51.6 percent, 0.4 percentage point higher than the November reading of 51.2 percent. The Prices Index registered 77.6 percent, up 12.2 percentage points com- pared to the November reading of 65.4 percent. The New Export Orders Index registered 57.5 percent, a decrease of 0.3 percentage point compared to the November read- ing of 57.8 percent. The Imports Index registered 54.6 per- cent, a 0.5 percentage point decrease from the November reading of 55.1 percent.” “The manufacturing economy continued its recovery in December. Survey Committee members reported that their companies and suppliers continue to operate in re- configured factories, but absenteeism, short-term shut- downs to sanitize facilities and difficulties in returning and hiring workers are causing strains that are limiting manu- facturing growth potential. However, panel sentiment re- mains optimistic (three positive comments for every cau- tious comment), an improvement compared to November. “Demand expanded, with the (1) New Orders Index growing at a strong level, supported by the New Export Orders Index expanding, (2) Customers’ Inventories In- dex remaining in ‘too low’ territory and at a level consid- ered a positive for future production, and the (3) Backlog of Orders Index achieving a 2½-year high. Consumption (measured by the Production and Employment indexes) contributed positively (a combined 7.1 percentage point in- CONTINUED ON PAGE 40

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector grew in De- cember, with the overall economy notching an eighth con- secutive month of growth, say the nation’s supply execu- tives in the latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business. The report was issued last week by Timothy R. Fiore, CPSM, C.P.M., Chair of the Institute for Supply Manage- ment (ISM) Manufacturing Business Survey Committee: “The December Manufacturing PMI registered 60.7 percent, up 3.2 percentage points from the November reading of 57.5 percent. This figure indicates expansion in the overall economy for the eighth month in a row after contracting in March, April, and May, which ended a peri- od of 131 consecutive months of growth. The New Orders Index registered 67.9 percent, up 2.8 percentage points from the November reading of 65.1 percent. “The Production Index registered 64.8 percent, an in- crease of 4 percentage points compared to the Novem- ber reading of 60.8 percent. The Backlog of Orders Index registered 59.1 percent, 2.2 percentage points higher compared to the November reading of 56.9 percent. The Employment Index returned to expansion territory at 51.5 percent, 3.1 percentage points higher from the November reading of 48.4 percent. The Supplier Deliveries Index reg- istered 67.6 percent, up 5.9 percentage points from the

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January 11, 2021

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Ross Ausburn, Co-Founder Of SMC Packaging Group, Dies At 88 Ross Buford Ausburn, co-founder of SMC Packaging Group, formerly Southern Missouri Container, passed away on Saturday, December 26. He was 88 years old.

as SMC Packaging Group. Today SMC Packaging Group is the largest independent corrugated box manufacturer west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rockies. Ausburn was active in many business organizations over the years, including the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, Associated Industries of Missouri, AICC, The Independent Packaging Association, and Rotary Interna- tional. He served on the Board of Directors of AICC from 1985-1991, first as a Regional VP for the states of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and the Dakotas, then as a Director at Large. He was active on AICC’s Container- board, Regulations & Sheet Supply Committee, the Safety Committee and Membership Committee. He was also active in community affairs, volunteering his time and resources. He served on the Springfield Park Board, Springfield Family Y Board, and was a big support- er of the Ozark Trails Council, Boy Scouts of America. He is a recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award. He is survived by a son, Kevin Ausburn, and a daugh- ter, Kristin Schneider; one brother and one sister, as well as several grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wives Mary Ann Ausburn in 2002, and Sally Fisher Ausburn, in 2012. Expressions of sympathy may be made to Covenant Presbyterian Church Foundation, 2441 S. Lone Pine, Springfield, MO 65804, or the Ozark Trails Council Boy Scouts of America, 1616 S. Eastgate Ave., Springfield, MO 65809.

Ausburn was born on February 27, 1932, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and graduated from Will Rogers High School in 1950. He attended the University of Oklahoma on a foot- ball scholarship and played for the legendary coach Bud Wilkinson. After graduating with a BSBA, he enlisted in United States Ma-

Ross Ausburn

rine Corps, attaining the rank of First Lieutenant. After his stint in the Marines he returned to the Tulsa area and be- gan his career in the corrugated packaging industry at Ho- erner Boxes. Following several promotions he ended up in 1963 in Springfield, Missouri, as the General Manager of the Hoerner sheet plant at Battlefield and Scenic. It was here that he started his long-term business relationship with his partner Charles R. “Chuck” Bachus, and in 1972 they founded Southern Missouri Containers, Inc. The company has grown to encompass four oper- ations in Springfield and Kansas City, Missouri; Conway, Arkansas; and Tulsa, Oklahoma, and has been rebranded


January 11, 2021

JB Machinery Installs Color Dry Systems On Isowa Ibis At Abbott Action In Attleboro, MA Westport, Connecticut based JB Machinery recently installed ColorDry XL3000 IR dryer systems on the 3-color Isowa Ibis Flexo Folder Glu- er at Abbott-Action Packaging facility in Attleboro, Massachusetts. With over 3000 JB IR dryers installed in 56 countries on diecutters and flexo

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folder-gluers from all major OEMs, this marks the first JB installation on an Isowa. “It was a pleasure to celebrate this milestone event with our great friends and valued partners at Abbott-Action”, said Warren Bird, President of JB Machinery. “We congratulate Sam and his team on their installation and look forward to celebrating their success with the new capabilities ColorDry will bring to their Isowa and the added value they will create for their customers.” AICC Opens Registration For FFG Webinar AICC, The Independent Packaging Association, has opened registration for Which Flexo Folder Gluer is Right for the Job?, a new webinar created with the support of AICC Education Investor Sun Automation, to be held Tuesday, February 2, at 2:00 p.m. EST. This webinar will help attendees evaluate the features of various flexo folder gluers to find the machine that best meets the needs of their company. There are several quality FFG manufacturers in the market. However, not every machine offers the features that each company needs to pro- duce the boxes in their current or aspiring order mix efficiently and eco- nomically. There are many things to consider when purchasing a flexo folder gluer. Participants will learn how to audit print jobs and process aspirations to understand the machine features they need to achieve their goals, for long runs or small orders. This webinar will help attendees perform their due diligence and avoid costly mistakes for their company. Registration is $250 for mem- bers and $500 for non-members. This webinar is part of the All Access Pass. Pass holders can use their promo code to register at no additional cost. Register at .

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January 11, 2021




Get Answers-Be Proactive. • There’s a board increase or decrease? • My volume goes up or down? • I lost my largest customer? • My MIX changed ? • I bought a new machine? • I sold more sheets? • My labor costs go up 5%? • I added OT or another shift?

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NAM: Manufacturing Contributed $2.33 Trillion To U.S. Economy In Q3 BY CHAD MOUTRAY, PH.D. The U.S. economy jumped 33.4 percent at the annual rate in the third quarter, the largest increase in the history of

rose to $2.213 trillion in the third quarter, as expressed in chained 2012 dollars. It remained down 1.0 percent from the all-time high recorded in the fourth quarter of 2019 ($2.236 trillion), despite tremendous volatility year-to- date. Overall, manufacturing accounted for 11.0 percent of real GDP in the third quarter, with value-added output (in nominal terms) up to $2.329 trillion, just 1.7 percent from a record high. In the latest NAM Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, 74.2% of respondents were either somewhat or very pos- itive about the outlook for their company. It represented notable improvement after the 33.9 percent and 66.0 per- cent readings in the second and third quarters. Just over 29 percent of manufacturers said that their revenues will have recovered either before or during the fourth quarter, and 67.7 percent anticipate that their rev- enues will be back to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2021. After two quarters with weaker domestic demand

the series, which dates to 1947, according to Chad Moutray, Ph.D. and Chief Economist at the Nation- al Association of Manufacturers. Despite soaring in the third quar- ter, real GDP remained down 3.4 percent year to date. The forecast for growth in the fourth (or current) quarter is 6.0 percent, with 4.5

Chad Moutray

percent growth anticipated for 2021. Real value-added output in the manufacturing sector

topping the list of primary business challeng- es, the inability to attract and retain talent led the pack once again in the fourth quarter. New orders for durable goods rose 0.9 percent in November, rising for the seventh straight month. Overall, the durable goods manufacturing sector has bounced back soundly following steep declines in March and April due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On a year-over-year basis, new durable goods orders have grown by 3.8 percent since No- vember 2019. In last week’s releases for December, the Conference Board and the University of Michigan provided mixed news on consumer confidence. However, Americans were cau- tiously upbeat in their outlook, despite as- sessments of the economy being well below levels seen before the pandemic. Personal consumption expenditures de- clined 0.4 percent in November, falling for the first time since April. The savings rate re- mained elevated at 12.9 percent. These data suggest that Americans were more hesitant in their consumer spending in November— something that will not be welcome news for retailers heading into the holiday season. Over the past 12 months, personal spending has fallen 1.3 percent since November 2019, largely on reduced spending for services. Meanwhile, personal income fell 1.1 per- cent in November, but it has risen by 3.8 per- cent year-over-year. Manufacturing wages and salaries increased to $955.2 billion in November, with 3.7 percent growth over the past 12 months. The housing market contin- ued to be a bright spot, buoyed by historical- ly low mortgage rates. However, inventories remain very low, pushing prices higher.

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January 11, 2021

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CCCA’s ‘Humble Box’ Video Series Viewed Coast To Coast According to the Canadian Corrugated & Containerboard Association (CCCA), its “Humble Box” video series has reached Canadian millennials from coast to coast. To focus on reaching an important sector of the pop- ulation with key messages about our industry, CCCA de- veloped a series of four videos using the character of a “humble box” to tell the stories. Videos were posted on the CCCA Instagram channel and promoted to target audi- ences in four different sectors of the country in one-week segments. The program employed recent research that revealed how well liked we were by people that know us but highlighted that only about half the population knows us. What to do? Go tell them. And tell them we did! Over 1.4 million impressions were achieved, but the key is that the videos were watched al- most 900,000 times. The Canadian Corrugated and Containerboard Asso- ciation is a long-standing voice to embrace sustainabili- ty in all its forms and advance the competitiveness of its members across Canada. Our members do great work at reaching the trade orbit of the business. As an association, our goal is to reach beyond that realm to help in creating an understanding of the key attributes of the corrugated industry. Watch the Humble Box at .

Clicking Through

More independent and integrated readers are using Board Converting News’ Internet Directory than ever before. REACH THEM.

Robyn Smith at 910-553-4055 / Len Prazych at 518-366-9017 /




GapChek™, the latest corrugated vision system from Valco Melton’s ClearVision division, moves the measurement point to the bundle so that the lead and trail gaps are measured on finished boxes. GapChek displays live measurements of each gap and per-bundle averages with statistical process control charts on-screen Users can look at per-job and per-box gap data and analyze historical trends for certain box designs or customers.

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January 11, 2021

Moving Into 2021 BY ROY OBERG

On January 1, 2021, the world’s problems won’t mag- ically be fixed. The societal, health and economic uncer- tainty from the virus, from elections, from general life and business, won’t just go away. However, turning the cal- endar does provide a chance for a mental reset. Three weeks ago, we talked about using an abundance mindset and looking for the positive in all situations, and it’s still the right mindset to move forward with. Instead of looking back at 2020 and wondering what could have been, let’s look at what the year was. As our first President suggested, let’s look at what we can take from it. For those who had to shift to work-from-home, what “past errors” can you learn from? For those that missed out on family or social gatherings, how have you/can you adapt to conduct those now? What useful lessons can you learn? What might you change about your gatherings once things return to “normal”? For those that missed vacations and other chances to unwind, how can you make sure you don’t miss those op- portunities moving forward? How can you create opportu- nities to unwind without leaving your home? What this boils down to is making a choice: we can’t change what’s happened, but we can take positive les- sons from it, and figure out the best way to push forward. So, let’s do that, and, as always…stay strong! Oberg Associates has been a talent acquisition and consulting resource for the corrugated packaging and pa- per industries since 1996. Call (972) 239-3315.

As we look back at 2020, I’m sure many reading this would like a mulligan: the ability to redo this year and at-

tack some of its challenges differ- ently. With lockdowns, an election cycle that just won’t go away, and ongoing health and economic un- certainty, it’s been an unusual year. Manywill spend timewondering what could have been, as many of us entered 2020 with high hopes and expectations. Vacations were

Roy Oberg

planned and cancelled, professional and personal goals went unfulfilled, and at the end of the day, many people will look at 2020 as a net negative. But looking back with regret is an empty exercise. 2020 is over. Whether we classify the year as “good” or “bad” just doesn’t matter, be- cause there’s nothing we can do about it anymore. Wast- ing calories on this isn’t good for any of us. George Washington once said, “We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experi- ence.” I tend to agree with our first President here: if we must look back, let’s do so only to learn what lessons we can to make 2021 better.

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January 11, 2021

Converter Outlook: Part I (CONT’D FROM PAGE 1 )

ducers might not? The question arises as containerboard producers try to position themselves for the future. While everyone spins in their own orbit, do the producers take into account how the market will absorb this new capacity? Where will the integration come from? The independent converter segment is stagnant and sits at about 9-10 per- cent of the market. How does new capacity find a home? It should be quite interesting. Frankly, I would rather be us than the companies faced with this demand dilemma. “As I mentioned earlier, we enter into the New Year with an overwhelming backlog. We know this can’t last forever, but like all of you reading this, we will ride it out as long as possible. The downside is that we have disappointed cli- ents but probably no more than other raw material suppli- ers in the supply chain. Paper supply has been tight - some of the tightness manufactured but some caused by uncon- trolled circumstances. It didn’t help that Mills were produc- ing in the low 90s as the demand surged dramatically in

into account capacity creep. In Europe, which is a far more fragmented market, there will be an additional 4.5-5 mil- lion tons of both Kraft and recycled capacity (a 17 percent increase) by the end of 2023. Also added will be another one million tons from Klabin in Brazil. So, the question is, how will this capacity be absorbed? “Sometimes, I think I am watching a train wreck in slow motion. While I was amazed that the market was ripe for a late fourth quarter price increase, I do wonder what the effect rising prices will have in the future. Is the pricing power once held by the four majors eroding even as pric- ing elevates? It would seem that attaining higher prices is just an invitation for new entrants. We see the result as companies like Pratt, Smurfit Kappa, DS Smith, ND Paper and now SAICA find their way into the domestic market. What are the opportunities they see that domestic pro-

the fall. In the month of October, we scram- bled like most other Independents for supply. Fortunately, we have come out of what I de- scribe as a “once in a decade” demand surge not met by open market capacity. “I expect the Acme Corrugated Box Co. to continue to find new products, introduce innovative use of flutes and substrates in our efforts to meet market requirements for 2021. We have always viewed ourselves as a “structural” box company. Our approach has always been, “What can we bring to clients that is not readily available” but has demon- strated value? We search globally for those answers and I would say we have done so successfully. We are focused on the perfor- mance of the packaging. Does it work? All other criteria seem superfluous to us. “We, like most independents, compete on competency, innovation and service. To prove value, you must find ways to differ- entiate yourself in a market that is too often based on ”me too!” value, is established by introducing the best material available, uti- lizing the best equipment available and then being led by an executive group that truly un- derstands that success is dependent on find- ing new products and new ways to service our clients. It’s a simple formula but one that has worked extremely well for us. “As a sign of our overall optimism, we have embarked on a multi-million dollar expansion of our present facility. We do this fully aware that even now there is uncertainty coming out of a worldwide pandemic. Still, the signs we see tell us that we have a duty to meet the future with confidence and forbearance. Our plans have been three years in the making. I

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January 11, 2021

Converter Outlook: Part I (CONT’D FROM PAGE 24)

remedies flew off the shelves. The auto industry stopped, and the used car market exploded. The strangest things happened: We learned how to cook, we learned how to read and play instruments, we learned how to work out at home, and the hardest thing of all is that we had kids to care for instead of sending them off to school. Moms took the brunt of this while working at home, cooking, cleaning and teaching their children. Many moms will never return to work. All of this changed the retail market. “So, what’s next for 2021? E-commerce will roar on for the next six months. The pandemic will filter out and we will crawl out from underneath the rocks and come into the light of a new and different world. I believe we will take our streets back from the Amazon, UPS and FedEx deliv- ery employees who have cluttered up our doorsteps with boxes of stuff. One cannot even drive down my street be- cause of all the deliveries being made. And who are those imposter-like delivery people lurking around the neigh- borhood stealing things off our doorsteps? This too will change as we come out and begin a new normal. “David Calhoun, the CEO of Boeing, and Michael O’Leary, the CEO of Ryanair, are banking on big chang- es coming in travel this summer. Ryanair bought 75 737 Max jets. International Airlines Corp. (Air Lingus, British Airways, Iberia) bought 200 737 Max jets for the boom in travel coming soon. Travel will explode this summer. We want to get out! CONTINUED ON PAGE 28

do believe that when we complete our expansion our fa- cility will be the envy of other converters. It’s something I am personally very proud to be a part of. Let’s all hope that when this article appears, we are on the road to blotting out this horrific period in our lives. Best wishes to all for a successful 2021!” BAY CITIES Pico Rivera, California: Greg Tucker reports, “What’s to come in our next world at retail? We know that retail has been shuttered during the pandemic and e-commerce has

grown leap years inside of a few months. Retail shifted to e-com- merce, order on-line pick up at store, groceries were delivered by delivery services and everything shifted into a different world of buying goods and services. “Travel stopped, airlines were decimated and things like jew-

Greg Tucker

elry, apparel and accessories (except masks) were not the place to be invested in. Restaurants were shut down and opened up and shut down again. We bought more toilet paper, disinfectant and paper towels than anyone could ever imagine. We bought more vitamins and im- munity solutions than ever before. All of the cold and flu


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Converter Outlook: Part I (CONT’D FROM PAGE 26)

“People will return to retail in the second half of the year. Restaurants (what’s left of them) will jump in summer. The basic goods we all bought will remain in our pantries, closets and attics for the next two years as we will begin to shop for things we haven’t been able to for a year or more. We will return to a different normal after the first quarter of retail bliss. The “Ugly American” will come crawling out of the rocks into the light after a hard January and February. “Although some of us will remain in hiding and some of us will refuse the vaccines for whatever reason. Some could see a self-demise. Things like jewelry, cosmetics, anti-aging products and accessories will be hunted down because we will be “going out” again. Outdoor essentials for travel will be sought after. Even cocktail dresses and shoes for style (not slumpy comfort) will be bought. We will again be poised for that “night on the town.” “Retail will come back with a vengeance in the second half of the year, albeit different, as it will be complemented with scaled-down offerings, but those that are cherished and sought after. We love to shop! We love to eat out and be served! We love to travel! We are so thirsty for that night out of bonding with other humans! “Theaters, concert halls, ballets, operas, and sports venues will all come back. Culture will be reintroduced into our lives again. So, what does this mean? Online purchas-


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January 11, 2021

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