We Have Your Back
“My 40˝ press just broke down, and my customer is insistent on the job. Is anyone nearby running a 40˝ press?” Fielding production back-up inquiries like this one is all in a day’s work for Andrew Willie, executive director of the Independent Carton Group (ICG). This 18-member association of independent folding carton converters strives to provide customers with competitive pricing, uninterrupted service, and cutting-edge technology and manufacturing capabilities.
According to Willie, repeated customer requests for carton production back-up were the impetus for the ICG’s founding in 1982, but by 1999, members had also banded together to negotiate raw materials contracts in order to capture vendor terms and volume discounts on par with larger integrated competitors. As a result, Willie’s daily role also commonly includes clarifying pricing contracts as converter members go about quoting jobs, and responding to prospective raw materials vendors’ requests to present their product lines to the group.
Working at the ICG’s operational headquarters in Newtown, Conn., Willie and his staff facilitate the group’s purchasing program by gathering and compiling pricing information from prospective vendors (including makers of virgin and recycled board, as well as providers of plates, inks, coatings blankets, rollers, and presses) for review by a four-member board of directors. Once the board members arrive at a recommendation for a designated raw materials vendor, a final vote for approval is conducted within the general membership.
Willie estimates at least 50 percent of converters’ sales dollars go toward the purchase of raw materials. With this in mind, it’s his mission to try to get ICG members rebates on everything they purchase—even down to pens and pencils. “Buying like a big company helps independents stay strong,” he says. “If there wasn’t a group like this, there might only be three to four big companies making cartons.”
Built on a foundation of back-up