What a year to remember! As I think about 2020, the pandemic surely took center stage, driving changes at work, home, businesses, schools, and places of worship. Working from home has become a norm for many workers. Is the need for individual offices or even office buildings a thing of the past? On-line shopping has accelerated for retail sales and many restaurants boast that curb-side take-out service is more profitable than seated dining. Our education system is undergoing a radical change with virtual classrooms accessed from home. Will that lower the cost of secondary education in the future and allow for more students to attend? These questions and lots more have challenged the traditional norms of daily life.
Personally, 2020 has pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me to do things I normally would not do. Not flying on airplanes has almost doubled my capacity for productive work and given me an opportunity to explore historical industry documents. I spent half a day reviewing twenty years of FBA Board meeting minutes. Looking at the meetings following Y2K (remember that?), I found it interesting that the agenda items from 2000 were essentially the same as today, but with redefined meanings and varied importance.
For example: FBA has been providing data and statistics since its founding in 1940. Some reports have been eliminated, while many new reports have been developed to meet members’ needs. There are more benchmark reports today than ever before and members use them to gauge their individual progress. Each year, more than 108 reports are available for FBA members who participate in the benchmark reports.
In the early 2000s, FBA was focused on water and air compliance in the converting facilities. Over time, this focus, including recycling and responsible use of raw materials, was defined as sustainability. Today, the buzz phrases are circular economy and regenerative practices.
In the mid-90s, telling the corrugated industry story resulted in the formation of the Corrugated Packaging Council, which later became the Corrugated Packaging Alliance and was the precursor to the Corrugated Industry Promotion Program (CIPP) today.
FBA Chairpersons: Leadership And Service
What caught my attention the most, however, was the list of individuals who have served this industry and the association. These folks are leaders within their own companies and somehow found or made time to lead FBA. Here are the chairpersons of FBA for the last two decades:
2000-2001, Jim Keller, Weyerhaeuser
2001-2002, Bart Doney, Inland
2002-2003, Dennis Willman, York Container
2003-2004, John Lilac, Greif
2004-2005, Steve Klinger, Georgia-Pacific
2005-2006, Bob McIlvaine, The Royal Group
2006-2007, Tom Herlihy, Green Bay Packaging
2007-2008, Bill Akers, Akers Packaging
2008-2010, Tom Hassfurther, PCA
2010-2011, Christian Fisher, Georgia-Pacific
2011-2012, Tom Shallow, Fitzpatrick Container
2012-2013, Jim Porter, RockTenn
2013-2014, John Davis, Great Northern Company
2014-2015, Mike Waite, Menasha
2015-2016, Bill Hoel, International Paper
2016-2017, Pete Watson, Greif
2017-2018, Doug Bosnik, Buckeye Corrugated, Inc.
2018-2019, John Kelley, Dusobox Corporation
2019-2020, Jeff Chalovich, WestRock
2020-2021, Cathy Foley, Pratt Industries
I want to thank them for serving and giving of their time and energy to make our industry great. It is the collective wisdom of these individuals, along with a dedicated and talented FBA staff, that has made our association what it is today. Hopefully, anyone looking back on our time in leadership (2020) will acknowledge that the FBA Board and staff made a difference to protect and enhance the corrugated industry. Here are our accomplishments for 2020:
In January, FBA, as part of the Corrugated Packaging Alliance (CPA), introduced member companies to the latest Full Disclosure software model. The cost analysis tool can be used with corrugated packaging customers who may be considering different packaging materials. The tool tracks all the costs associated with packaging a product allowing manufacturers to make informed decisions about packaging materials.
Dennis Colley and Rachel Kenyon also attended the Waste Management Sustainability Forum and participated in an AMERPIEN/Arizona State University Walton Sustainability Solutions Workshop on modeling the future of recycling. Beginning in January 2017, FBA highlighted a different market segment each month.
FBA joined a collaborative work group of industry leaders led by the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) to develop design guidance for the recyclability of paper-based packaging. Dennis and Rachel met with Mary Anne Hansan and staff at the Paper + Packaging Board and agreed to collaborate on new forestry and recyclability sell sheets for the P+PB Sales Channel Toolkit.
FBA, along with CPA partners AF&PA, AICC – The Independent Packaging Association, and the Technical Association for the Pulp and Paper Industry, urged Federal and State government to recognize corrugated operations as “essential businesses” during “Stay at Home” orders. CPA sent letters to the governors of all fifty states and the Department of Homeland Security.
FBA issued a press release on the essential work of the industry and launched a web page tracking COVID-19 information, including Essential Business Designation, Guidance for Employers, Food Safety and Packaging, and Surface Transmission of the virus.
With the FBA Annual Meeting cancelled, FBA held its spring Board of Directors’ Meeting by conference call. During the call, FBA ratified the membership’s election of new Board members and officers. Cathy Foley, Vice President Industry Relations and Supply Chain at Pratt Industries, became the Association’s 2020-2021 Chairman. Additional officer elections include First Vice Chairman Bob Landaal, Landaal Packaging Systems; Second Vice Chairman Doug Bosnik, Buckeye Corrugated; Immediate Past Chairman Jeff Chalovich, WestRock; President Dennis Colley; and Senior VP Rachel Kenyon.
The Fibre Box Association (FBA) and AICC, The Independent Packaging Association, recognized 422 corrugated industry plants for safety achievements in 2019.
FBA created a video thank you to the industry’s essential workers who helped keep transport packaging flowing to markets including packaging for food and other consumer products, medical and pharmaceutical products, tissue and hygiene products and more.
Members of the Technical, Safety & Health, and Environmental Committees met by video conferencing to conduct their business. Agendas and minutes for each of the three meetings can be found on the FBA website.
The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) report was updated on the FBA website and distributed to members showing where boxes were used to ship products in 2019.
FBA published the Corrugated Container Industry Annual Report of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses and the Fibre Box Association Membership Report was sent to members recapping the Association’s 2019 accomplishments. The Membership Report included a letter from Jeff Chalovich, past FBA chairman, who shared his thoughts on leading FBA and the impact of the Coronavirus on the industry.
FBA released the 2019 Operating Ratio Survey of Independent Sheet Plants. AF&PA confirmed pizza boxes can be recycledand FBA began promoting the news to consumers, recyclers, and pizza purveyors through targeted advertising in pizza publications and across social media.
The FBA Board of Directors Executive Committee met by video conferencing. Shar Huske retired from FBA after 17 years of service.
FBA published the E-Commerce Trends and News Report and the Economic Trends and Outlook for Corrugated Products report, which contains a U.S. and Canadian economic overview and information about several box consuming markets.
Rachel began sending e-mail advertising updates containing the monthly social media theme and ads to look for in upcoming trade publications.
The FBA fall Board of Directors meeting was held by video conference. A cease and desist letter was sent to TOSCA regarding incorrect claims about corrugated boxes and OCC. As a result, TOSCA modified their communications.
FBA published its third quarter Advertising and Social Media Impact Report. At the request of the Board, the dashboard report was developed earlier in the year with 1Q and 2Q reports also available.
Rachel spoke at the NERC (Northeast Recycling Council) Fall 2020 Virtual Conference held October 20-22, 2020.
FBA welcomed new member Corrugated Concepts & Packaging, Inc. to the association.
Both AF&PA and FBA announced a change in the frequency of reporting shipments, consumption, and inventory. Beginning in 2021, monthly reports will become quarterly reports. The first report of 2021 will be published on April 15, 2021.
The Key Performance Indicators (KPI) report was published for participating members.
The wax alternative coating survey was published in December. FBA shared social media posts about the role of corrugated boxes in the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine. FBA also announced a “Save the Date” for the 2021 FBA Annual Meeting to be held at Montage Laguna Beach, Sunday, May 2 – Tuesday, May 4, 2021 (a Sunday to Tuesday format).
Dennis Colley is President & CEO of FBA.