The Paperboard Packaging Council (PPC) hosted a week filled with folding carton insights and education at its first PPC Week event at MGM Springfield (MA) on June 6-10. PPC Week commenced with a record-breaking Folding Carton Boot Camp on June 6-7 and continued with Drupa in Springfield from June 8-10. An unparalleled number of folding carton industry newcomers attended PPC’s signature training program, with attendance to Bootcamp up by 120 percent from maximum attendees in previous years. Approximately 70 professionals attended.  

Folding Carton Boot Camp, PPC’s signature “Carton 101 Training,” kicked off PPC Week by covering topics such as structural design and workflow, inks and coatings, laminating, digital diecutting, gluing and adhesives, rigid box, manufacturing and more. Instructors included key leaders within the folding carton industry who shared insights, developments, and technical information on each of their given topics. Hosted for the first time at MGM Springfield, attendees received hands-on learning opportunities on topics that span the full breadth of the folding carton industry. Boot Camp concluded with a graduation ceremony that celebrated graduates for their desire to learn, understand, and grow both professionally and personally.  

The week continued with Drupa in Springfield, a dynamic forum that showcased PPC Associate Members who shared the latest tools and technologies in the industry through comprehensive case studies. In total, 14 associate members presented on key company learnings and insights, including Bill Rice of Heidelberg; Birgit Backofen Rothacker of ACTEGA North America; Eric Frank of Koenig & Bauer; Mark Hopkins of Komori America; Rob Bradshaw of Baumer hhs Corp.; John Pettus of Wikoff Color Corporation; Doug Herr of Bobst North America, Inc.; Gayle Harrop of Tamarack Products. Inc.; Stu Lurie of Wilmington Paper; Jeff Bates of Leary, W.H.; George Folickman of Tilia Labs, Inc.; Carl Hirsch of Ink Systems Inc.; Chris Merendino of IMPACT Converting & Systems Solutions; and Chris Leary of  Gietz-Vinfoil Americas. 

In addition to the case study presentations from members, PPC also invited thought leaders such as John Fraro, Director of Deli, Bakery and Food Service at Big Y World Class Market, Dr. Steve Sobel, a renowned author, motivational speaker and educator, and Kevin Karstedt, Chief Executive Officer of Karstedt Partners, LLC, to speak on how their perspectives, experiences, and strategies have helped move their respective industries forward.  

Fraro shared the grocery retailer perspective in his keynote, reaffirming that collaboration through key strategic partnerships will pave the future for continued success in the industry. “Beyond labor, our packaging supply line is one of our largest spends, and it needs to keep evolving so we can expand offers,” Fraro said. He also posed the question to attendees: “What are your companies doing to not be transactional, but thoughtful, specific, and strategic about your futures?” Fraro shared that Big Y is doing this by streamlining their offerings, stating, “Aggregation is going to be a huge path forward for both packaging and products.”  

Fraro also touched on the ideal qualities retailers are looking for in their packaging partners.“Social responsibility, sustainability, and government advocacy are imperative for us to want to partner with you. Change is coming in the packaging world, and we need to be strategically aligned in order to embrace it.” 

Lastly, Fraro stated how important it is for packaging suppliers to present innovative products to retailers. “Unfortunately, the pandemic stunted innovation – limiting our ability to create meaningful partnerships within the industry. However, recently meeting with packaging manufacturers has been great for opening our communication channels to see what others are doing outside of our market.” 

PPC’s President, Ben Markens was thrilled with the outcome of the week-long celebration of packaging innovation and growth saying, “Drupa in Springfield provided a unique opportunity for Associate Members to partner with carton converter members who use their products firsthand, all while showcasing the latest and greatest cutting-edge technology within the paperboard packaging industry. We’re looking forward to continuing to deepen relationships, inspire connections, and provide value for members at our Fall Meeting & Leadership Conference in Austin.” 

Registration is now open for PPC’s Fall Meeting & Leadership Conference at the Hyatt Regency in Austin, Texas, from October 26-28, 2022. Visit for more.

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