Statement Regarding the Death of George Floyd

It is unbelievable in 2020 we still see the lack of respect for human life that we saw in Minneapolis this past week. For a Police Officer to cause the death of George Floyd or any human being the way he did is truly horrible and unacceptable in our society. I am ashamed that this can and still does happen in America today.

As President/CEO and a family owner of Independent Can Company, I want to state clearly that there is no room in our society or within our company for racism or discrimination of any kind. We believe every human must always be treated with respect and dignity. At ICC, we encourage a diverse work force with the most talented, committed and skill person(s) in every job without reference to the color of their skin, where they are from, or their religion. We are a better company with a diverse set of talent, skills and beliefs.

Independent Can Company fully supports our black and brown communities who are feeling pain at this time. You are not alone. I ask that our ICC family be open to learn and more importantly, listen to each other. Please be considerate and supportive of those around you each day. We all have a responsibility to not be silent, yet open about our support for fair and equal treatment for everyone.

I am committed to leading an organization that lives up to its core values; Fair, Sense of Urgency, Market, Customer & Improvement Driven, Dedicated, Responsible and Teamwork. It is the foundation of who we are and what we stand for.

Please all be Safe and Healthy and know we are a caring and concerned company.



What’s New at Independent Can 

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

2019 – A Year of Challenges and Progress

When you watch the news today, you might think the world is going in strange directions. This is challenging for all of us.

Over the years, business has learned to deal with globalization and open markets around the world and have designed their strategies around the current demands and challenges. As of 1 – 2 years ago the world began to change in a direction that requires all businesses to adjust their strategies.

Can Manufacturer for 90 YearsThis year Independent Can Company is celebrating our 90th year making specialty tins. We are proud to say that we have thrived through the good times and the tough times and today we are working hard adjusting to the current global and local challenges.

In previous articles that I have written I have noted many of the investments and projects we have taken on and I feel very positive about how many of these strategies are now beginning to come to fruition.

Some of the challenges:

    • Growth– As a company our focus was never on growth as we knew that if we took care of our customers they would take care of us. Referrals and developing a strong reputation as a reliable supplier has been our guide.
      • Several years ago, we found our growth had reached a point where we needed a full ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning system) to help manage the business as long term, talented personnel could not manage the old fashion way with the breadth of the markets and product we now serve.
      • In 2018 and early 2019 we suffered from the ERP not providing the data needed to service our customers. Now we have made huge improvements and it is functioning as an asset and not a liability.
    • Rebuilding trust and reliability – We disappointed a number of customers on service in the past 18 months. This year, we have many of the tools we need to truly begin to rebuild the quality in service and communications. We are not perfect yet, however, we are on the right track
  • The complexity of making specialty tin is enormous, with a mixture of short run custom work, seasonal demand that is unpredictable and a huge array of products.
  • Tariffs– This has been the biggest curve ball presented to us since 2008’s recession. A little background:
    • Historically we have bought nearly 100% domestic steel. Over the past 10 years the reliability and quality of the domestic mills has become significantly worse, with many quality claims, causing domestic suppliers to be disqualified for supply.
    • Domestic deliveries 10 years ago were nearly always on time have now dropped to less than 25% on time.
    • The tariffs imposed by the US Government were 25% and when this was done it did not take long for the US Mills to raise their prices to just below the cost of tariffsoverseas pricing.
    • The lead time for domestic steel for re-qualification has been much longer than expected, at times 8-10 months depending on the application, consequently returning to locally produced sheets will take a long time.
    • We would like to buy all steel domestically as we believe in Made in America and we are a domestic manufacturer. We buy based upon the following criterion: Quality, Service (on time delivery) and Price.
    • Market Pricing for cans: The economy has been strong but the pressure on pricing has also been strong: costs have increased and no one will accept higher prices: margins have suffered badly.
  • Domestic and Global Economies: Due to Nationalistic trends around the world and tariffs imposed to protect home markets, global growth is slowing.
    • What does this mean to the can industry and steel related industries?
      • Steel cost “should” moderate in 2020
      • The can companies in the USA have not recovered the higher cost the tariffs imposed, consequently, when steel moderates, can prices will not necessarily follow the downward trend in the near term.
    • What is Independent Can Company doing?
      • We have the finest lithography capability in North America and now we will have more apprenticeships to prepare for the future skills needed.
      • We have automation processes being installed in each of our 5 manufacturing plants that will reduce labor cost, speed up throughput and improve quality. Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV’s), Automatic packaging systems, the integration of processes etc.
      • Our ERP staff is coming out with new and improved reports daily for data collection that will make our plants more effective.
    • Plastic Packaging- Finally the world is recognizing that plastic are maybe our most destructive environmental disaster in the past century.As good as plastics plastic pollutionare for many applications steelbased packaging could perform equal to or better than plastics and is 100% recyclable without loosing any of its properties.
      • Plastics only have a life extension and will end up in a landfill or the oceans and they are not fully recyclable
      • Many of the global consumer product companies have committed to significantly reducing the use of plastics and returning to sustainable materials: steel and paper in the next 5-10 years.

I want to thank you for reading this article and please know we are working very hard to be your supplier of choice and earning your respect and your business through Quality, On Time Deliver and Competitive Pricing.


I am writing this article as we approach the end of the second quarter ‘19. It is hard to believe that we are nearly halfway through this year.

We have a couple more weeks before we wrap up our slower time of year and enter our busiest time of the year. The first 5 months of 2019 have been better than the first half of 2018 in each of the can plants, although lithography sales have been down with our outside customers.

Our focus for 2019 is as follows:

Provide Outstanding Customer service

Being the Employer of Choice

Continuing to build long term Financial Strength

Outstanding Customer service-

2018 was a challenging year for Independent Can due in a great part as a result of our ERP (Enterprise Resource Program) not performing as we had designed and planned.  Over the past 30 years we have installed a number of systems that would be called an ERP but in reality they were glorified financial packages with a MRP (Materials Resource Planning) package.

The system that we have invested in this time, CSI (Cloud Suite Industrial), is a fully integrates system that allows total transparency from order entry to shipping the final product shipment. This system will schedule production processes so that all components are  available when needed on the can assembly lines.

We have come a long way in employee training and reporting processes. I have worked in our family business for 44 years and must say that this has been the most difficult project this company has ever undertaken.

   Why did we go this direction and why now? Very good question.

  • In 2014, we had an outstanding year except for the fact that we over sold our capacity to manage the complexity and the diversity of the products we were asked to deliver. We had plenty of machine capacity although we delivered orders late.
  • In 2013, we recognized that our most knowledgeable and tenured employees were approaching retirement and we had to back fill talent from outside of our industry. The people we have hired are talented and skilled although they needed to learn our products and our customer’s needs.
  • We now have talented associates that are learning who and what we are. We have begun giving them the electronic tools to be successful.

Employer of Choice-

Today, our economy is operating at full employment which means anyone that wants a job has a job. We provide all employees a track with many options and career paths. Through apprenticeships for electricians, mechanics, printing press operators, etc., we have significant number of high paying jobs available today.

  • Having a defined career path
  • Having apprenticeships in various disciplines
  • Living in the part of the country in which a person desires to locate (5 Manufacturing locations)
  • Having state-of-the-art technology at their finger tips
  • Being employed in a business where one can make a difference and not just be a number

We have employee engagement surveys and have had open discussions with them about what they want in their work day world and we are striving to deliver their requests.

From the data we have collected, turnover has slowed and the hiring of talent has become less difficult. People want to work where investments are being made in technology throughout the business.

Long Term Financial Strength-

Independent Can Company has always invested in equipment and talent with a long term view of the business.

Today, it is very difficult to forecast the future with our government changing the rules on globalization and the free flow of goods around the world. TARIFFS: I will not go into all of the challenges tariffs have caused although the administration has force steel costs up 25%. To service our customers well, we will continue to buy our steel based on the following this criterion: Quality, Service (on time delivery), and Price.

To offset increased costs of steel, we are investing in more manufacturing automation: robots, centralized production, centers of excellence and more effective processing plans which the new ERP is designed to provide.

The Environment

Unless you live in a cave, you have heard about all of the plastic ending up in our oceans and landfills. To date, I have not heard of a plastic material that is truly biodegradable and those that claim that they are biodegradable require a special process.  Additionally, the “biodegradable” plastics cannot go into the single stream recycling process as they contaminate other plastics, therefore end up in the landfill. Plastics companies claim their products can be recycled and what they are really saying is that there are applications for second and third uses of plastics. In reality, 100% of plastic material will either end up in a furnace (causing damage to the atmosphere), landfill (covers our natural land with garbage) or in the oceans  (into our food chain through seafood).

plastic pollution

Cans, whether they are steel or aluminum, are recycled at an ever-increasing rate and are reprocessed into new first-quality materials.  This happens with no loss of material properties.  If metal cans do end up in a landfill or in the ocean, they will rust away back into the environment in years, not hundreds of years.

Please think of our environment first and choose products that are packaged responsibly.  #MetalPackagingNow


What’s New at Independent Can – Winter 2019

As we approach the end of the first quarter of 2019, we have had time to reflect on the past year and to establish goals and plans for 2019.

2018 was a challenging year with many issues that were very rare occurrences:

  • Import tariffs on Steel and Aluminum
  • The installation of a new Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP)
  • An economy that provides the quality worker an opportunity to change jobs easily

Another challenge for our country is an aging work force leading to a high level of very skilled workers retiring and a population of young people coming out of high school looking to work in technology and not in manufacturing as a career path.

The challenge for manufacturers is that the United States has a tremendous opportunity to grow manufacturing domestically which is the first time in nearly 25 years.

We want you know what we are doing to address these challenges and how we believe we will thrive in the future.

  • Tariffs: We are working through the Administration’s policies, to a great extent, although we have been very vocal advocates publicly in the press.
    1. As a company we testified before Ways and Means Committee in Congress and have received 11 exemptions from the import duties. This has helped to average the impact of the higher costs down however costs still have increased.
    2. Pricing globally has stabilized although at a higher cost.
    3. Global supply is also stable which has resulted in Tin Plate being readily available.
    4. We have brought in additional inventories of steel allowing for more flexibility in responding to customer needs.
  • Installation of a new ERP System: Independent Can has a very diverse product offering manufactured in 5 plants strategically located in the USA. We needed a sophisticated system to help schedule processes and to keep track of work in process.
  • The system was installed over a 24 month period and the last plant to go live was Belcamp. When this was done, the overall complexity of the largest plant caused huge problems in both scheduling and transparency of work in process. We failed to service our most important customers and we know it.
    • Today we have a new team managing the system and are absolutely focused on correcting the issues that plagued us in 2018.
    • Why did we install this system? Our company has been successful because we have had for many years very skilled, dedicated long term can makers that grew up with the business although they are now retiring. We have lost many individuals that had, in their brains, all of our tribal knowledge which made the business work without a complex computer system’s assistance. To grow and thrive we need systems to help the newer employees.
  1. Manufacturing slip cover tins for both stock designs and custom –

11 – round diameters and 6 tapered

45 – irregular shapes (square, octagon, rectangle, oval, cut corner ETC)

35 – 2 piece drawn slip cover and continuous threaded and interrupted thread

40+ – different closures and nozzles for various applications

Military tins

  • 2. Lithography –

Belcamp – 2 Metalstar lines (4 and 6 color), 1 Crabtree (2 color) and 3 thermal coaters

Vandalia – 1 Metalstar line (6 color) and 1 thermal coater

  • The economy has been growing since 2010 and now almost everyone that wants to work is working. Along with this, if there are any exceptional workers in your business they are being recruited.
  • What are we doing to help retain and hire the culturally aligned Associates?
    • Employer of Choice-
      • Flexible work schedules are offered in most plants and are also being developed where there are more challenging customer demands
      • Improved a 401K match program
      • Evaluated all wage rates to make sure we are competitive in all skills
      • Career path development along with apprentice programs
    • Technology-
      • Today most young people coming to manufacturing directly from High School or College do not want to get their hands dirty. Associates are managing more systems then manual labor.
        • CAD – systems
        • CNC – mills and lathes
        • Robotic packaging system
        • Computer skills training

We have a lot of challenges although we have even more opportunities for new and exciting metal packaging options today than we have had in many years.

I want to thank all of our very important customers and also to apologize for our performance in 2018 and assure everyone that we are razor focused on every customer, every day.

Thank you and never hesitate to call any of our sales personnel, or even me, if you have a problem or an opportunity.

Rick Huether

President and CEO


What’s New at Independent Can – Fall 2018

As we enter the fall season it is a good time to reflect on where we are as a business and what we are doing to provide value for our customers. There is no one factor that permits a company to be successful and thrive over long periods of time as there are so many dynamics that come to play: technology, financial ability, capability and skills, continuous improvement, change and enthusiasm for doing what the business does. All of these are very important but they need people that want to be involved, develop their skills and that are empowered to be successful.

Independent Can is a family business: What does this mean to me?

  • The business is owned by a family and we have the second, third and fourth generations active in the business every day.
  • We have many associates that have their family members’ active in the business.
  • All decisions concerning investments are related to how it will affect our associates: job security, career path and opportunities.

Independent Can has a rich History:

Incorporated in December 1928 and made the first can in January 1029

  • Parker family founded the business
  • Huether family bought the business in 1948
    • Tins made for: seafood, eggs, peanut butter, lard, grease, cottage cheese etc.
    • 1979- committed to remaining private
      • Invested in what is today our corporate headquarters and a 400,000 square foot manufacturing facility
      • Built a plant in Fort Madison, Iowa
    • 1981- entered the welding rod can business through an acquisition
    • 1986- entered the can distribution business through an acquisition
    • 1990- entered the metal decorating business to support internal printing needs
    • 1993- expanded decorative tin business into making irregular shaped tins
    • 2004- installed the first 6 color Metalstar print line in USA
    • 2006- Acquired Crawford Can
    • 2007- Acquired Bertels Can
    • 2014- Built a state of the art lithography and can plant in Vandalia, Ohio
    • 2016- Acquired Steeltin can plant of Ball Corporation
    • 2018- Installing a world class ERP to provide data required to manage a complex business

All of this is very interesting, however, without the people to make this work it would not have been possible. We are very proud of the long tenured associates and their commitment to making us successful.

Strategic Planning: We have had a strategic planning process, for many years, focusing on all aspects of the business; technical, facilities; logistical support of our customers, etc., but the most important part of the strategic plan has been to manage our culture.

In the Strategic Planning process we that executed in 2017 -18, we reviewed our Mission, Vision and the Values and we have updated them to reflect the realities of today’s employees, markets and customer expectations.



Sense of Urgency

Market, Customer & Improvement Driven




Mission Statement

Tailored Packaging Solutions – Building Brands

 We are the premier manufacturer & supplier of innovative, high quality metal packaging solutions and market leading lithography.  We empower our highly skilled and trained employees in a safe, respectful, and stable environment with opportunities for growth. By successfully partnering with our customers to build their brands, Independent Can Company will have the following results:

Loyal Employees, Loyal Customers, Job Security, Profits sufficient to meet reinvestment needs, and a Fair Return for the Shareholders.

Vision Statement

Capable, skilled and committed employees delivering exceptional service and value by providing tailored packaging solutions to our customers.

Today we have 400 associates and as a result many of our newer hires are learning what has made us successful where other specialty can companies have failed. We are working with all locations and associates to become the employer of choice while providing excellent products and services to our customers.

Rick Huether

President and CEO


What’s New at Independent Can – Fall 2017

September 2017

2017 is flying by. As we enter September we are now in the busiest time of the year for decorative tins both promotional and gift and I can assure you that we have been preparing for this busy season since January of this year.

What’s going on?

  • Decorative tins: This is a very seasonal business.Lithography is working very long hours to make sure that we are able to meet the expectations of our customers.specialty2
    • 3 of our manufacturing plants produce decorative tins (Belcamp, MD, Vandalia, OH and Ft Madison, IA) and they are all working long hours and weekends to fulfill the orders that are on the books
    • It appears that the retail markets are working later this year then we have experienced in the past consequently we are required to produce orders with shorter lead times.
    • The good news is that we have added more lines in all 3 plants for flexibility and on two lines; we have doubled our through put (units per hour). These investments are a direct result of the acquisition of the Ball Corp plant in Baltimore, MD.
  • Industrial tins: This is a very level business throughout the year.industrial ad
    • 2017 has been a good year as the economy has been strong and the products that we supply to these markets are absolutely tied to how strong business is in America, Canada and Mexico.
    • The acquisition of the Ball Corp Plant in Baltimore has also added significant capacity and new capabilities for our open top Hermetic tins.
  • 2 Piece Drawn tins: This is very level business throughout the year.
    • This has been an outstanding year for 2 piece seamless tins. Combining the capabilities in our “new” Baltimore and our Belcamp plants has permitted significant efficiency and growth opportunities.seamless tins

The biggest challenge today:

As we all have heard on the news and read in the papers manufacturing is coming back strong in the United States. Manufacturing in the USA can be competitive globally:

  • Quality: Through our Quality Assurance program we are working through Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), documentation and specification design to provide the finest cans available globally.
  • Environmentally responsible: The tins we make are all made with first class steel which is infinitely recyclable.
  • Safe Food Quality (SQF): We are committed to achieving the SQF II certification in all of our plants that produce tins for food. Vandalia, OH will be first and then Belcamp, MD.
  • Training: The Manufacturing sector in the USA is so strong that finding good mechanics, electricians, machinists ETC. is a real struggle. We are working on training for nearly every skilled position to develop the next generation of can makers.
  • Real time electronic systems: In my What’s New posted in May 2017, I mentioned that we are installing a computer system that will ultimately provide real time data from order entry through accounts payable. The update is as follows:
  • We have now installed the system in two manufacturing plants with a 3rd going live November 1, 2017.
  • The entire system will be fully installed by May 2018.
  • With the complexity of business today and the need for real time information we believe this is an investment that will allow our customers the transparency and flow of information required: Bar coding, bin locations, inventory release at the dock when shipped, traceability, etc.I want to thank all of our customers for their loyalty and support as without customers we do not have a business. We now have nearly 400 employees that are fully committed to manufacturing the finest specialty can made in the world.As the President and CEO of our family business I would like to say we are perfect in everything we do although this would not be true. I can say we are working very hard to professionalize all aspects of the company and are installing the skills training and automated systems to provide the resources and data we need to meet and or exceed our customer’s expectations. We are a sales and customer driven company- who happens to be a manufacturer.

Thank you again for your support.

Richard Huether
President and CEO


2017 – A year of optimism, change and improvement!

2017 is shaping up to be a very good year for the economy here in the United States. Sales are running a little over the budget and there seems to be a momentum building. The economy for the past several years has been slowly getting stronger although we have not felt that our customer were feeling confident in investing in and developing new packages or promotional programs. This year, we are finding a much more positive outlook.

What is changing at Independent Can in 2017?

  • We have restructured our leadership team in Operations to more effectively focus leadership in each of our 5 manufacturing plants.
  • We have restructured our Sales leadership into focused sales teams to allow market experts to respond to customer needs and solve problems.
  • We continue to integrate the Steeltin business unit into the entire Independent Can structure and customer-centric mindset.
  • We have taken all decorative can manufacturing lines out of the Steeltin plant and repositioned them to better service all of our customers. Logistics is becoming more and more expensive, consequently, placing the assembly line closer to customer will save money for all and allow for faster delivery.
  • We are also working on Centers of Excellence in product lines to allow the mechanical staff and production processing to be very attuned to the customer expectations and needs.

These continue to be exciting times and there are many opportunities for new projects and processes being brought on line in the next 6 -12 months. We are operating in an industry that is thought to be very mature and with minimal obvious growth markets. The reality is that we are constantly being challenged to step up to build new metal packaging structures.

I want to thank all of our employees for their dedication to the new electronic systems that we are beginning to roll out in our manufacturing plants. The new ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system is now installed in our Steeltin plant and will be rolled out at the other facilities over the next 9 months. This system will provide real time inventory to all employees throughout the company. We have installed bar coding and bin locations in most all locations and this has resulted in a much more accurate inventory process. Dates Matter is one of our mantras and unless we have confidence in the floor stock of components and finished goods we are guessing at the shipping dates.

Thank you to all of our customers for their support of the process improvement endeavors that are underway. We know that the more responsive we are to you and ultimately to your customers’ needs and expectations, the better we are as a resource.

As your supplier or if you are looking for a new source, rest assured that we are on a continuous improvement journey and we know this is a marathon and not a sprint.

Thank you again and we look forward to service your packaging needs.


Richard Huether

President and CEO

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

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.


Rick Huether

Chairman of the Board and CEO of Independent Can

iccthumb3WHAT’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.

ICCthumbAlso 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

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  • 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


  • 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.


  • 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

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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!



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:


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

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


  • 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

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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!