From the President’s Desk

Independent Can Closes on Acquisition of Steeltin Can

It is a great pleasure to announce that October 3, 2016 we closed on the acquisition of the Steeltin manufacturing plant of Ball Corporation. This facility was dedicated to the production of specialty and decorative promotional tins which made it a strategic sale for Ball. Ball Corporation will now focus on beverage, aerosol, general line and food cans.

steeltin-for-web From the President's Desk

The Steeltin plant is a perfect match for Independent Can Company with its cultural similarities which will make the integration of capabilities and personnel much easier.  As I have said in the past, anyone can buy equipment but the real assets are skilled and motivated employees that have been cultivated and appreciated. This acquisition will bring approximately 50 new employees to our team.

For the time being, we will work with the staff to learn more about the business before there will be any changes to the organization and structure. There will definitely be overlap in our product lines.  We will evaluate and merge the best processes and tooling.  The merging of the best processes and skill sets may mean that some products will eventually transition between the Baltimore (the Steeltin plant) and Belcamp locations.

We welcome and look forward to answering any questions that you may have about the acquisition. Feel free to contact your sales representative.

Overview of Independent Can:

  • 5 manufacturing plants –
    • Belcamp, Maryland – Headquarters and largest plant
    • Fort Madison, Iowa
    • Conneaut, Ohio
    • Vandalia, Ohio
    • Steeltin, Baltimore, Maryland – as of October 3, 2016
  • Lithography/Printing – 2 lithography plants printing and 100% in-house prepress
    • Belcamp, Maryland
    • Vandalia, Ohio
    • Steeltin, Maryland – Digital printing as of October 3, 2016

We want to thank all of our current customers and welcome the customers of Ball Steeltin that will be transitioning to Independent Can.

Communication is critical during a major transition of any business, so please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions and opportunities.

Sincerely,

Rick Huether

Chairman of the Board and CEO of Independent Can



iccthumb3 From the President's DeskWHAT’S NEW 2016

 

As we enter 2016 it is important that we take a look back to enable us to truly move forward.


In the World around us in 2015 there were some really good things that occurred, as well as some really troublesome events.

 

  • Syria- the conflict and war
  • ISIS
  • Terrorist attacks in France and around the world
  • The Pope visited the USA
  • Cuba- Opening relationship
  • USA- Citizen/ Police unrest
  • European refugee crisis
  • USA- Presidential Election season began
  • USA- Low inflation
  • USA New employment- 5.2 million hired
  • USA Job Openings- 5.4 million

Our world as we know it today is more affected by world events now than any other time in history. If China reports a change in their economy our stock market goes up/down the next day. It is more important than ever that we learn to deal with information overload.

With this said we all must commit to activities that we are able to control and manage.

Today Independent Can Company is more focused on our Mission Statement and what it means:

To Be The Best – Not The Biggest

The Definition:

If all members of the Independent Can Company family do the best at their respective task each and every day then the following expectations should result:

 Loyal customers, loyal employees, employees’ expectations fulfilled, Company growth, job security and profits sufficient to meet reinvestment needs and a fair return.

 Thank you to all of our customers and employees for helping make us a strong and focused company.

What will be our focus in 2016?

 The greatest focus will be on:   Dates Matter

What does this mean?

This means that our intention is to manage our order book to meet the customer’s expectation every time. This is a big statement and in a nut shell it says- When we agree with our customer to ship an order on a specific date our goal is to be ready to ship on that date. We will be establishing tracking systems to measure our effectiveness.

What are we doing to achieve this goal and how long will it take us to make this reality?

  • We are emphasizing on training throughout the business from our sales force through to the shipping department
  • We are working on bar coding and location systems throughout manufacturing
  • We have lean projects focusing on specific areas of the manufacturing processes to improve changeover effectiveness and quality.
  • We will be asking customers to provide realistic forecasts, order and delivery dates and to release goods per this schedule. When schedules change let us know so we can adjust.

As I asked above- How long will it take to achieve this goal at a very high level?

  • Lithography: One year ago we installed a scheduling process that has provided predictable results. We will now build upon this model to add additional capacity.
  • The can plant is a much more complex process. Commitment to the installation and integration of this process has been embraced by all four of our can manufacturing plants.
  • We are forecasting an 18 – 24 month timeframe to accomplish all of the goals which we believe will allow us to become World Class.

Safety, quality, productivity, investment, innovation etc. are very much part of this journey of activities which we must manage throughout the process. We have every intention of thriving and growing through these tumultuous times. We are asking our ownership, employees and customers to provide continuous input and feedback as to how we are living up to their expectations and to challenge the leadership to constantly improve performance and results.

ICCthumb From the President's DeskAlso in 2016, in the interest of growth and planning for the future, Independent Can’s Distribution Division is being relocated from Ontario, California to Tolleson, Arizona.  This new facility in Arizona is 35,000 square feet, resulting in an expansion of 14,000 square feet of space.  Our commitment to offering customers product variety while absorbing the logistic challenges, now and in the future, has been strengthened by this move. The facility opened on January 4th 2016.

Thank you for your part and I welcome any questions, concerns or input as to how Independent Can Company can be a more responsive company.

Rick Huether

President and CEO


 

What’s New – Summer 2015

As we enter the summer months and the heat builds we should all be thinking about the fall busy season as it comes closer.

The first half of 2015 has been a little flat on sales and market activity. We hear that there are lots of projects being thought about although there appears to be caution in the minds of retailers. I am not an economist although the employment numbers are up nicely and it appears that those companies reporting results are doing well.

Come on people let’s get out there and get the economy going!

 

What is Independent Can doing to get things going?

  • We have 44 more employees than 1 year ago.
    • Operators- more training for more skilled line attendants
    • Engineers- More engineers to allow faster execution of projects
      • Training depth for future growth opportunities
    • Pressmen and Coatermen- with a new plant in Vandalia, we need skilled staff

lean-web1 From the President's Desk

 

  • Relocated can line and presses to Vandalia
    • Logistically advantageous for customer
    • Spreads work out to free up capacity for busy season
    • Free space up in Belcamp for new projects

vandalia From the President's Desk

 

  • Training, Training and more Training
    • The can industry has not built depth of skills for many years; we need to develop the can makers of the future.

train_web From the President's Desk

 

  • Lean Processes
    • We are beginning to roll out the lean processes that will help us drive out waste at all levels of manufacturing.
      • Deep Cleaning
      • Everything in its place
      • Safer work environment, less waste, faster changeovers, better quality and more consistent on-time delivery

lean-web2 From the President's Desk

lean-web3 From the President's Desk

 

 

Update on Ft. Madison, Iowa:

There was a severe weather event in the Ft. Madison area the night of Saturday 6/20 which left a hole in our roof over which we store primarily packaging materials and some finished goods. With the help of our dedicated team and the original contractor for the facility, the roof was repaired by Sunday evening. Monday was dedicated to cleanup both outside and inside the building, and we were back in production on Tuesday. While we have identified some product to be scrapped the amount of product is both minimal and manageable. Thankfully none of our employees were impacted, and the Ft. Madison area itself was spared more widespread damage. Thanks to all of our dedicated employees who, in a trying time, have exhibited the teamwork necessary for us to quickly manage the efforts of the storm!

before1 From the President's Deskafter1 From the President's Desk

before2 From the President's Deskafter2 From the President's Desk

 

 

From this What’s New article I hope that everyone will feel the energy and passion we have for what we are doing here at Independent Can. We are investing in people, the latest technology and equipment, (printing, coating and slitters recently) and facilities.

In the article that I posted in the first quarter of this year I pointed out the challenges that we had in 2014 and what we were doing to help overcome these same challenges so that we do not repeat them in the future.

  • The overwhelming Challenge in 2014
    • Lithography in 2014 by May 15th had a lead time of 8-10 weeks
      • This caused every process in the can plant to be struggling to meet any promised delivery dates into the fall of 2014
  • Where we are today:
    • Today, we are between 4 and 5 week printing backlog
      • We installed a computer based line loading program that is helping to manage the entire printing process.
      • Vandalia, Ohio-The printing plant has now been printing and coating for 1 year. The added capacity and capability is outstanding.
      • Belcamp, MD- The addition of the 2 color printing line has opened up significant capacity on the 4 and 6 color lines reducing the lead time significantly.
      • We are delivering to our can plant on time and as requested. This will allow an orderly can assembly process.

 

As a country we have many challenges as it relates to manufacturing although the benefits of Made in America are overwhelming:

  • Challenges:
    • Strong dollar- makes export goods more expensive overseas
    • Strong dollar- Makes goods from overseas cheaper
    • We need more skills development in our school systems
      • There is good pay for mechanics, electricians, pressmen and coatermen, engineers, managers, etc.

 

  • What are we doing to overcome these challenges?
    • Installing equipment that will make us more effective
    • Training skills at all levels
    • Hiring co-ops for Engineering, Quality, etc.
    • Hiring Management trainees

 

There is no question that the future is brighter than the past and all it takes is:

  • A commitment to change
  • A creative, involved, and dedicated employment base
  • A training process that will develop excellence and the skills needed in the future

I want to thank all of our customers, all of our dedicated employees and our suppliers for helping to make us what we are today and you have my commitment to working as hard and smart as it takes to build a strong manufacturing business, with a focus on making the best decorative and industrial tin that is truly possible, at a fair price.

Our Mission statement says it best as our focus is:

To Be The Best – Not The Biggest

Thank you,

 Rick Huether

President and CEO


 

What’s New – February 2015

We are now well into the first quarter and are working very hard to make 2015 a strong and prosperous year for all.

2014 was a challenging year for many reasons. Two major investments completed in 2014:

  • We opened a new plant in Vandalia, Ohio (Dayton Airport). The first operation we installed was a 6 color printing line and a thermal coater. This is all state of the art new equipment designed for the highest quality printing available in the metal decorating business. The plant printed the first sheets in June 2014 and performed exceptionally well for the balance of the year. We are proud of our new employees and the way they have learned the new equipment and serviced our customers’ needs.
  • In Belcamp, Maryland we have installed a new 2 color printing line with a thermal oven behind a trail coater. This line will allow more efficient production of 1 and 2 color designs and free up time on the 4-6 color printing lines.

These two investments will help us with the lead times associated with can production, as a major delay in making cans was getting printed metal to the can plant in a timely manner. The new capacity will help this.

We have all heard a lot about the economy’s strength and the broad recovery which has been good for everyone. Independent Can Company has approximately 70 additional employees than 1 year ago. The new business has allowed for growth and many new employment opportunities. Today we are building depth in manufacturing and training at a very high level while also backfilling the large number of retirements.

A major challenge we had, as a result of the economic strength, in 2014 was that the demand for our services (printing and can making) grew faster than we had forecasted which caused long lead-times in the busiest time of the year.

I can assure all of our customers that we have taken this situation very seriously and this year we will be prepared for the demand. Having had a full year with the added printing capacity we will be able to respond to the demand.

In the plant:

Lithography:

Lead times are very good right now so if you have a need please call and let us know. We are finishing all annual preventative maintenance and qualifying designs on the new equipment so that we are ready during the busy season.

Can plant:

January is a month where we focus on the annual maintenance issues and line reconfiguration to help better service the forecasted needs and expectations.

As mentioned above we hired many new employees in 2014 and consequently we are running many continuous training classes to help the new operators, mechanics and engineers to better understand our business, our culture, quality requirements and to understand our strategic future.

General comments:

We have been blessed to be in a mature industry where there continue to be so many opportunities to grow and expand our product offerings and our customer base. The opportunities have been made possible because of the outstanding employees that we have. The creativity and dedication exhibited across our entire small company is exceptional.

Thank you to all our people.

Manufacturing is growing steadily in the United States for several reasons which represent a long-term strategic shift requiring a diligent effort by all companies that make products that have been imported in recent years:

  • The labor costs in the low-cost countries have been increasing at a rapid rate, making products less competitive globally.
  • Even with the huge population in Asia there is a shortage of labor to make packaging products.
  • Logistic issues are becoming a big problem. Not only have the costs increased to transport goods but the Long Shoreman at the USA ports are not happy with their wages and working conditions which has caused significant delays offloading ships and work stoppages have been threatened.
  • Manufacturers in the US are better able to assure and demonstrate Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) verses many of the so called low-cost countries

Independent Can Company has invested continuously in automation to lower the processing costs and to improve quality at a very rapid rate, meeting the expected growth or return of work to domestic production.

As a manufacturer we do need more young people that want to be engineers and those that want to learn trades such as: machinist, mechanics, electricians, printing press operators, coater operators, can line operators, ETC.

Our country needs more skills training and more young people that want to work with their hands and minds to make things. With the technology today, manufacturing requires skills that pay well, are secure and are transferable and applicable to many industries.

We want to thank all of our customers for their loyalty. We are working very hard to be your best most reliable supplier of packaging.

Our Mission statement is:

To Be The Best – Not The Biggest

This past year we did not live up to the spirit of our mission statement due to an overwhelming demand that we did not control well. This year we have put into place many controls and systems to help us better line load and increase throughput to meet our promised dates.

As we all know, words are cheap and that the proof is in the execution so we ask that you challenge us.

Thank you,

Rick Huether

President and CEO


 

What’s New – November 2014 –

The busy season is moving very quickly. The leaves are changing, the weather is turning cooler and the Holiday Season is almost upon us.

In my last What’s New article I reported that we were late on most all of our deliveries and were struggling to catch up. I must say that we are in much better shape as it relates to lead-times now then we were in August. This is the busy season and consequently certain stock items are running short or are out of stock so please allow 2-3 weeks on most orders or have a substitution item in mind when you call.

If you have a rush custom order that you would like to discuss please call and challenge us to respond. I cannot promise an immediate turnaround although we are in pretty good shape to deliver quickly.

In the printing division: Today the lead-time in the printing and coating division is 4-5 weeks on repeat jobs and 5-6 weeks on new jobs.

The long lead-time challenges this year were the result of an exceptional influx of printing volume that was much higher than forecast. We have been planning for growth for high quality printing and this is reflected in our expansion of our printing capacity in Belcamp, Maryland and the opening of the new plant in Vandalia, Ohio.

The Vandalia, Ohio printing plant began operations in June of this year and has operated as planned. The crews have 5 months experience at this point and all is running smoothly.

Vandalia-Crew-1024x796 From the President's Desk

In Belcamp, Maryland we will be installing a new printing line which should run its first sheets by December 31, 2014. This line gives us new capabilities and will be our 3rd printing line in this plant.

With the addition of the new Ohio plant and the capacity being added in Belcamp we will have nearly doubled our printing capacity this year and increased coating capacity by 30 percent.

In the Can Plants: While the can plants are running at a very high level we are well underway with engineering plans for equipment and process improvements being designed for installation in the spring of 2015. The realignment of can line to provide cost reductions and more efficient material flow takes significant time so we are staging the changes we want to take on after the first of the year.

We will be able to discuss some of the changes as we approach the spring time.

General comments: These are exciting times in the United States for manufacturing. The low- cost nations that have challenged the United States and Western Europe for global competitiveness in manufacturing have seen very high rates of inflation in labor costs and difficulties in maintaining their supply advantages.

Through investments in automation and the development of flexible manufacturing systems, Independent Can and hundreds of other domestic manufacturers have reduced costs and lead times to respond to the needs of retailers both specialty and the mass market retailers. The consumer wants good quality, good value and they want it now. The retailers do not have the luxury of buying from halfway around the world and being able to restock the shelves in the holiday season. Having the right products on the shelves provides the consumer with their desired items and reduces stock outs and end of season closeouts which are extremely costly to the retailers.


 

What’s New- Independent Can Company- September 2014

 

Looking back at the last What’s New Article I did not realize that it had been a year since I wrote the last article. I apologize to everyone who reads this for the long delayed update. In this world of instant information we need to make routine updates.

The past 12 months have been extremely gratifying and challenging. The specialty can business has returned to levels not seen since 2006 and 2007. Independent Can Company (ICC) has worked hard to get ahead of the growth with some truly remarkable accomplishments and some true failures along the way.

What have we done to get ahead of the market growth.

First a commentary on “Manufacturing in America.”- Manufacturing is returning to the United States at a rapid pace and many are asking “why?” We all know or thought we knew that China was taking over all manufacturing because of America not being competitive globally. For those of us who are over 60 years old we thought that Japan was going to make everything when we were growing up. All low cost labor areas eventually develop into higher wage areas as workers learn the potential and value of their skills and abilities. China’s workers want the same benefits and material things that any developing or developed population wants. The labor wages, along with safety and environmental costs, are rising very rapidly in Asia making the goods produced there more expensive to export.

Another important factor is that China with the huge population they have and the wealth they are accumulating is becoming a consumer-driven economy. In the future China will consume more of the products being produced in country and less will be available for export.

America is becoming a nation where manufacturing can again drive economic success and a more economically advantaged middle class.

Our advantage is our creativity and technology and if we can marry this with enough skilled workers we can be a huge powerhouse and growth engine again in the global arena. Our challenge is retraining and developing a new generation that takes pride in making things

How does this tie back to Independent Can Company’s remarkable achievements and failures?

Remarkable achievements:

  • Over the past 7 years we have invested between 20 and 30 million dollars on improved technology allowing for productivity improvements and flexibility in production.
  • Since 2009 our annual growth has been comfortably into double digits.
  • The new products we have added have been accepted remarkably well for a mature and no growth market.
  • We have hired 80 plus individuals over the past 12 months (many of whom are engineers and middle managers) and opened a new manufacturing plant in Vandalia, Ohio.

icc-for-web From the President's Desk

 

Failures:

 

  • People- We are having a very difficult time finding the depth of skills we need to fully benefit and operate the technology we have installed.
  • The challenge we have, along with many of the other business owners I speak with, is having an employment population that sees a future career in manufacturing.
  • As a manufacturer we need young people that want to be electricians, machinists, mechanics, line operators and middle managers that will cultivate the skills and abilities in manufacturing.

This year, 2014, has been a struggle. We have hired many people and are training them in the many disciplines mentioned above.

With that being said, we have not done a very good job of servicing our customers this year and we apologize to everyone. We have invested continuously in our people and we expect these investments will bear fruit in 2015. The manufacture of specialty tins requires not only skills in various disciplines but also intuition, creativity and experience that come only with time.

The greatest surprise this year has been the demand for flat sheet printing. Over the past 5 years we have doubled our capacity for printing and coating and this year we will again nearly double our capacity for printing. One line began producing printed sheets in June (2014) and a second line will come online in December (2014).

p10-for-web From the President's Desk

 

c10-for-web From the President's Desk

Our challenge today is to find and train skilled printing press operators, coater operators and shift managers who are able and willing to cultivate a culture of Safety, Quality, Respect for one another and Productivity.

As a company we will be working very hard to train the newest additions to the ICC family of employees and to develop processes that will train the can makers of the future.

The tin can is back and is in a significant growth mode again. No package has 100% recyclability, the advertising surface (permanent advertising), product protection and the integrity and perceived value that the tin can brings to market.


 

What’s New? January 2014

Throughout the cold and snowy winter we have been working on many new and exciting opportunities that will allow Independent Can to bring more quality products to the marketplace in 2014. The Independent Can brand is stronger than ever and we continue to invest in our operations and in new capabilities to position ourselves to service all of your packaging needs well into the 21st century.

Our Mission Statement: “To Be the Best, Not the Biggest”

An update on our new facility in Vandalia, Ohio:

We are on schedule to be fully operational by July of 2014 with a new 6 color printing line with trail UV varnish, and a new state of the art coating line. Our staff includes a number of individuals with years of industry experience that have been in training for several months, and fully engaged with installation and other issues associated with the start of a new operation. This facility addresses a need for capacity in the industry and is well positioned geographically for servicing Independent Can’s satellite plant locations. We have incorporated a Vision Inspection system into the press line to enhance our ability to print to our customer’s expectations.

And our new products:

We are pleased to introduce to our various specialty markets the following NEW cans that are now available. Please contact your Independent Sales Representative for more information.

  • 3-3/4 x 2-7/16” deep drawn, seamless can – also available in our stock program!
  • 4-3/4 x 1-1/4” drawn seamless can
  • 3-3/8 x ½” drawn seamless can
  • 3-5/8 x 3-5/8 square decorative slip cover can – NEW AND IMPROVED for easy height changes!

 

All of these new products will be manufactured in our Belcamp, MD facility. We have also transitioned some product lines to our Ft. Madison, IA and Conneaut, OH facilities in order to best marry by geographic location and skill sets where we produce packaging.

Our new stock catalog has been available online and by mail upon request, featuring brand new licensed Thomas Kinkaid images. Samples are available of all of our new stock designs.

 

And our new people:

Independent Can hires in accordance with our Core Values established in the late 1990’s, and slightly modified a decade later. We have been hiring new, dedicated employees steadily throughout the first quarter in order to help meet and hopefully exceed the expectations that our customers have for customer service and product quality. We have added approximately 30 new employees in the first quarter, and today can say that Independent Can is 300 people strong. We have a very aggressive employee orientation program focused on our Values, and focused on an understanding of the expectations of our customers.

 

Thank you for making all of this exciting news possible. We are looking forward to an exciting year with many challenges to come. We are proud to be celebrating our 85th anniversary this year – and hope you are all aware of the marketing of your history through an anniversary decorative tin package!