For those of us who know the story, we recall that something significant was not ushered in with a strong rushing wind or an earthquake, but in a small quiet calling. So it is with many signs of change that are not so evident unless we are sensitized to the calling. While many of us may not need to respond to global packaging initiatives because the end user does not ship all over the world; or we are not ultimately faced with declining fibre quality like the Europeans; or we may not manufacture UN Hazmat boxes; or we have a corrugator or sheet feeder that quantifies its board via certificates of analysis the physical properties of the corrugated it send us still, we are faced with change.
If you have built trust in customer relationships, go further! Bring differentiation and branding to the relationship. What separates you and your company from others? Be faster to respond, yes. Discuss the process controls you have in place that provides product assurance, yes. If you are not selling and delivering a perceived significant value, then the relationship defaults to price and the balance of power falls into the hands of the customer/buyer. Look at the progress of digital printing technology and the recent claims of printing at 8,000 sheets per hour. What a technology leap!
Become the specialist, the corrugated engineering expert. One success builds on another. Do not become diluted, keep that focus narrow. Always be testing competitor’s boxes, but not for basis weights or calipers, that’s not of any value. Consider third party evaluations. Learn the newest terminology and new methods of measuring board performance and multiple your value in the eyes of the packager. Create pathways of significance so that your customer cannot take your investment in them to a competitor.
Champion the changes that are coming, it’s not the unknown to your Association. Prepare yourselves and don’t be deceive by those who are not embracing better ways of design the corrugated structure and reducing variation in their processes. You can’t control what’s coming, but you can reduce the pain of not knowing. There are already pockets of excellence out there, the early innovators, and companies in the mid Atlantic, Texas, the Rocky Mountains, the upper Midwest, the Southwest and Los Angeles area.
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