Optimism Abounds at 2021 TLMI Annual Meeting
The hope was palpable at the Naples Grande Florida resort in Naples, Florida, where hundreds of tag and label manufacturers and their supplier partners gathered in mid-October for the TLMI Annual Meeting.
The converter and supplier members were continuing the half-a-century-plus tradition of gathering to advance the tag and label manufacturing industry through education and collaboration. The 2021 event, held October 17-19, 2021, kicked off with an improved awards program with celebratory dinners serving as bookends. While the two-part awards ceremony was new, the association kept its storied awards with their prestigious histories, including the TLMI Annual Awards Competition, Calvin Frost Sustainability Leadership Awards, Converter of the Year, Eugene Singer Award, Supplier of the Year Award and Volunteer of the Year.
Renowned economist Alan Beaulieu opened the Annual Meeting’s conference program. Beaulieu offered frank talk about the challenging economic conditions ahead but also sage and sanguine advice on how to thrive despite arduous conditions. He reminded the audience that the upside of the capacity problem facing many tag and label manufacturers is that demand remains high for their products. Beaulieu also noted that this high demand was coming at a time when it's relatively cheap to borrow, which meant that label printers have a rare perfect opportunity to invest in new equipment that will improve operations.
The theme of recognizing the upside of the capacity problem was also a theme for the next morning's keynote by Claudia St. John, President of Affinity HR Group. St. John suggested that label printers rethink how they approach marketing and use some of their marketing budget to attract new talent. She noted that the younger employees, which could replace the workers who retired over the past year and a half or unfortunately have passed, research career opportunities differently and also apply for those positions differently. She encouraged the label manufacturers in the audience to look outside the industry for inspiration on how to best market their businesses to potential employees and even suggested visiting Airbnb careers pages for inspiration.
Peer panels from a CEO Panel to a Sustainability Panel rounded out the program with frank discussions on a range of topics. Beth Smith of Sticker Giant urged audience members to be realistic about customer loyalty. She reminded the audience that customers may need to try new supplier partners to provide continuity to their businesses. This can force the brand's hand when choosing suppliers, and it can sometimes mean that loyalty, as much as the buyer would like to remain loyal, might not be a choice that's available to them.
The sustainability panel discussed TLMI's new CELAB initiative, and how it was encouraging collaboration across a range of suppliers to create more sustainable substrate and consumable choices with which converters can manufacture and print their tags and labels. The panel also emphasized the use of the modern terms for eco efficient manufacturing such as circular economy.