What’s New- Independent Can Company- 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?
- 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.
- 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).
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.