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Successful entrepreneurs run their businesses with a combination of artfulness and hard data

For more than twenty years, I’ve had the good fortune to grow a business from a startup into a well-established, one-location, small contract packaging firm...
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Like many small businesses, we started over a couple of times as we worked to find our footing. In recent months, I’ve had the opportunity to capitalize on market conditions, and expand that business into our second facility.

From this experience, I can assure you that I have a newfound respect for those contract packagers who are owner-operators of five, 10 or more plants. It takes a special skill-set, and I find myself learning more every day…even after 20 years. I’ve always considered myself to be rather entrepreneurial, but until recently, I had not felt as though the business had reflected that personality.

Coincidentally, a couple of weeks ago, I received a phone call from a college undergraduate student, John G., at the University of Cincinnati, who is taking a summer Web-course on Entrepreneurism. He wanted to know what I feel is the most important asset for an entrepreneurial business owner to possess. I am afraid that I disappointed him by not providing a single, undeniable, exhaustive, all-inclusive “magic bullet” answer to his question. Rather, I left him with a fairly significant list of ingredients: “The business owner will need knowledge, passion, access to capital, guts, mentors, ability to assess risk, willingness to act, inner strength to say ‘no,’ humility to surround yourself with people smarter than you, and more guts.” This student was not sure how to respond to my statement. I could tell he was trying to figure out how he was going to summarize all of this for his report.

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Finally, John G. asked me the question again, “So, which one of these is the most important?” My answer got much simpler, “You’ll need as many of them as you can possibly get, and you’d better have a lot more than one.”

Ten years with the CPA, and I find myself in direct contact with some of the most brilliant entrepreneurs I’ve had the privilege to know. When I accepted this leadership role with the Contract Packaging Association little more than one year ago, I really felt a sense of duty to take good care of the investment of time, talents and resources our members provide to the CPA. And to ensure that those efforts put forth by the staff and volunteer members are being developed into meaningful programs for the benefit of those members, first and foremost. In addition, those programs should be meaningful to the packaging industry as a whole.

Therefore, it gives me great pleasure to announce the publication of the 2014 State of the Contract Packaging Industry Report. Additions to the previous 2011 report includes data on: Labor Wage Rates, Recent Industry Trends, the impact on business of the Affordable Healthcare Act, and more. Visit the CPA website at www.contractpackaging.org/stateoftheindustry. This is your chance to bolster the “knowledge” I spoke of previously.

You may also purchase the CP Industry Report at the Contract Packaging Sourcing Center – Booth #5801 at Pack Expo International – McCormick Place, Chicago, IL – November 2-5, 2014. The Sourcing Center is the place for brand owners to bring your project/product/idea and be connected with Contract Packagers and Contract Manufacturers who can help get the job done. Nearly twenty Contract Packagers will be displaying their capabilities in the CPA Booth, and more CP’s will be on-hand for one-on-one conversations to help you make the right connections.

Feed that entrepreneurial spirit in yourself, and your organization. If you are a contract packager, and you have not yet joined us for our next step forward, what’s holding you back?

Come see us in Chicago!

CPA President Chris Nutley is co-owner and president of MSW Packaging Services, Lawrenceburg, IN, www.MSWPackaging.com

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