Tag Archives: printing market

WTT: Interview with Jay Willie of the Independent Carton Group

I caught up with Jay Willie, Executive Director of the Independent Carton Group (ICG) just before he struck out for one of the groups quarterly meetings. The ICG has an interesting business model and long history so I began the interview with that line of questions.

Karstedt Partners – What is the ICG?

Jay Willie – The Independent Carton Group (ICG) is an association of independently owned and operated folding carton companies. None of our members are affiliated with a major paper mill. Our mission is to help member companies competitively compete with the vertically integrated companies. We have three programs to help accomplish this mission; a purchasing program, a supplier assurance program and quarterly business meetings.

Karstedt Partners – Before we get to the nuts and bolts of the association, tell us how the association began.

Jay Willie – Heads of the original five companies met at Kennedy Airport in 1982 to discuss how they could help each other if one of them had a catastrophe occur at one of their facilities. These original member companies were Dee Paper Box, Zumbiel Packaging, Curtis Packaging, Lebanon Packaging and Harvard Packaging. As part of their agreement they began a tradition of best practice and technology sharing that continues today. In 1991 the association hired its first staff that included Andy Willie, recently retired from Curtis Packaging, as its first Executive Director.

Karstedt Partners – So in the following years the association began offering members more services, can you take us through that phase of growth?

Jay Willie – Through the early 90s Andy began evaluating how member companies purchased offset printing plates from various vendors. This first effort in volume pricing provided all members with a means to purchase plates in volume (by using their group consumption) that offered price advantages they could not gain individually. With this success to build on in 1999 the group created the ICG Purchasing Program, which now covers consumables that include paperboard, ink and even die tooling, printing presses and die cutters. We even have a program with Staples to offer office supplies to our members. To give you an example of our purchasing volume the ICG is the largest purchaser of paperboard from Clearwater Paper. In essence, the ICG is the purchasing arm for our members so they have a lot more leverage in negotiation contracts with vendors. Another benefit of the program is that it gives our members access to long-term raw material contracts that reduce the risk of interruption in the event of a paper shortage.

Karstedt Partners – What do you see as some of the major concerns facing your member companies?

Jay Willie – Our members are very concerned with maintaining margins. The economic conditions and competitive landscape have put a lot of pressure on carton converters. For example, the decrease in paperboard capacity in the US is creating an increase in board prices. The entire industry is faced with how to absorb or pass on these increases to the customer. They are also finding it more and more difficult to find qualified skilled labor on the manufacturing side. Fewer young people are getting into manufacturing related job tracks.

Karstedt Partners – How do you see the outlook for the carton market and for your members?

Jay Willie – Everyone is hoping for the economy to get better, assuming that occurs we see many of our members diversifying their product and service offerings. Many are adding new technologies to their manufacturing facilities that allow them to offer more value added products. Many members are expanding outside of their historic niche offerings to offer more full service capabilities to their customers. This can include offering product inserts along with the cartons.

We are also seeing more companies being purchased by private equity firms. As family owned companies look at succession planning many are offered the added option of private equity purchases, which were not such a viable option just a few years ago.

Karstedt Partners – Where do you see opportunities in the carton sector?

Jay Willie – As I mentioned earlier, I see a lot of opportunity for our members in expanding their product and service offerings. Adding more options in coatings and die cutting as well as new graphic features are being done as members reach outside of their niche offerings. I see the industry taking advantage of the green movement with the strength and “greenness” of paperboard packaging.

This article was originally posted on WhatTheyThink.com on 4/11/13.

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WTT: WhatTheyThink Kicks Off Special Labels & Packaging Section

Welcome to the inaugural post for WhatTheyThink’s Labels & Packaging website. The folks at WTT and I have been speaking for quite some time on the need a version of WTT that focused on the needs of those in the packaging supply chain. I am honored to be the Managing Editor of this new endeavor and will strive to bring meaningful and timely content to those in the packaging supply chain who are looking for information and intelligence in order to do their jobs better.

As the supply chain for packaging is extremely divers, we will try to address the needs of multiple disciplines from graphic design, structural design, prepress, workflow, product and project management and printing and finishing of all flavors. This is a good time to begin this effort, coming out of a drupa year there are many new products and services that are targeting the package printing marketplace, products and services that are in need of exploring and understanding. Through out this inaugural year of WTTL&P (how is that for a twitter hashtag #WTTL&P?) we will grow the content areas of the site as the needs of the readership direct. Starting with areas around design, prepress and workflow we will expand out to areas asked for by you the readers. These areas could include flexo, gravure, offset, digital and screen printing; finishing in cartons and flexible packaging; color management, in the pressroom and back to design; substrate manufacture and usage to name just a few.

In addition to the mechanical part of the packaging supply chain, WTT has done a good job in addressing business issues facing printers and suppliers and that will continue on the Packaging side of the site. Mergers and acquisitions in packaging have been increasing for the past few years and with all likelihood will continue in 2013 and beyond.

Readership will likely be a combination of users and suppliers with each group having different agendas and needs. This medium is unique and is well suited to the goals of both groups as each is hungry to reach and learn from the other. WTTL&P will be a conduit for that linkage and will strive to bring meaningful content to the readership.

A mainstay of the WTT model is a comprehensive news feed section on relevant topics to their readership. This will continue on the Packaging side bringing readers news that is compiled daily to bring the latest news and information in one place. To all the vendors and businesses in the audience, be sure to send your press releases to news@whattheythink.com in text or word format to be sure it is included on the daily news feed. I will be funneling worthy information to the site as well. Users and business owners, be sure to check the site regularly to be close to the news that affects you and your business.

This article was originally published on WhatTheyThink.com:


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2 B or Not 2 B That is the Question for Folding Carton Manufacturers

2 B or not 2 B that is the question…

This post will be short and hopefully sweet… I just got back from Drupa and was very impressed with all the digital solutions companies like Landa, HP, FujiFilm, Heidelberg, Komori, Bobst, EFI, MGI, Screen, Myakashi and many others who are showing systems for the packaging sector. Many of them are looking at the folding carton sector with new offerings. It seems that any press that is sheetfed and can handle substrates over 18 point is automatically called a Packaging Press.

Now comes the advice… if you really want to sell to folding carton manufactures…loose the B. Outside of the commercial printing market the terminology of B for press or paper sizes is not used. I cannot tell you how many times this topic comes up when speaking with a carton manufacturer following a demo. Second parts of the advice, in the States use inches as the form of measurement don’t fumble around with millimeters and having to convert. Outside of the States using millimeters or centimeters is just fine. This goes for board thickness measurement as well, use point sizes or even thousandths of an inch (0.024 inches would be 24 point) in Europe continue using microns.

Get the Point? Learn what the package printer is used to hearing, speak their language if you want them to listen to you…Oh, and one more…don’t tell them how many “pages” can be produced…they work in jobs or sheets…

Just a quick note on the topic, hope it helps. When we start talking about presses going into the Flexible Packaging sector we will have to do this all over again…They don’t care about Bs either…

Helpful links:

ISO 216 on paper sizes from Wikipedia:


Paperboard from Wikipedia:



Get the details of our analysis by ordering our ‘Trends Assessment of Folding Carton Solutions Report’ which will be available on our website shortly after our return from Drupa.

The report is a high level assessment of what we think the key developments are in digital printing and finishing for the Folding Carton Sector coming out of Drupa. If you would like more information or be notified when the report is available, send us an email at kevin [at] karstedt.com.

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