Independent Can Looking Forward

The year 2019 was a year of learning to understand the rapidly changing world around us and how we must change the way we approach manufacturing in the United States.

In the past, nearly all nations were moving towards globalization and virtually open borders. In the past 3 years the world has moved towards nationalization and rewriting all trade relationships.

Businesses build strategy plans that look out 2-4 years based upon a crystal ball that is, at best, cloudy. The recent past and the expectations for the future are based upon modest or trending governmental change. When radical changes are imposed like the tariffs of 2018, the effects could not have been forecasted.

The biggest challenge for manufacturers is finding young people that want to develop trade skills such as: machinists, mechanics, tool and dies development, electricians, printing press operators and more. Each of these trades require 3-4-year apprenticeships and then on the job learning to be considered skilled. The pay for these jobs begins in the $18-$20 per hour range and can reach the low $30s per hours very quickly. The skills mentioned here are in such demand that once an individual achieves a strong skilled trade certification they will never want for employment as the demand will be strong for years to come.

cost of tariffsMost parents want their children to go to college believing this is the only way to achieve a respectable and well-paying career. Today, there are more college graduates that will never be able to pay back their college loans while those having developed trade skills have been paid to achieve their certifications and have ZERO education debt.

What is Independent Can Company (ICC) doing to prepare for the future economic realities?

  • Two years ago, we installed an Enterprise Resource Planning System (ERP): this system touches every part of the business. Order entry drives demand from material sourcing to shipping goods on time every time.
    • This has been a huge learning process which now is beginning to pay us back for the pain that the transition has caused us and our customers.
  • We have invested more than 2 million dollars a year on process automation to lower processing costs and to increase speed to market
    • Automatic packaging systems, automatic guided vehicles (fork trucks without drivers), camera systems to inspect finished product quality, etc.
  • We have reduced overhead, flattening the leadership and reducing complexity.

ICC has just finished our 90th year in business and now look forward to the next milestone of 100 years as a family owned business. The changes and the learning we have experienced over the past 3 years have been very painful but have also positioned ICC to be the leader in specialty can making in North America.

We want to thank all of our very dedicated and skilled employees and all of our customers that have supported our business over the years. We ask all employees and customers to continue to challenge us to provide the highest quality work environment and the highest quality metal packaging.

Thank you

Rick Huether 

President and CEO