Packagers reach for new technology at Pack Expo

Pack Expo displays the technology of the future at McCormick Place, November 8 to 12. Together with the International Exposition for Food Processors, attendees will roam 1.2 million sq' of exhibits, making it the largest North American packaging show ever.

Its size will be daunting for those who don't prepare. But most attendees of Pack Expo 98, along with the co-locating International Exposition for Food Processors, recognize that this is no longer a show that can be leisurely pursued. This year, show days will seemingly evaporate while attendees traverse five separate exhibit halls for five days beginning November 8 at Chicago's McCormick Place.

More than ever before in the Americas, a show this size virtually demands planning, and this special preview will provide the tools to help attendees do just that. Not only will this preview present a complete list of exhibitors organized by the products they make, but it also includes reviews of many of the products that will be introduced for the first time at the exhibition.

In addition, this preview will describe other events planned during Pack Expo Week (see p. 56), including the Packaging Education Forum annual banquet that honors both packaging students and professionals who have devoted their careers to packaging.

Separately, this keepsake issue of Packaging World includes a special section on the most critical issue facing manufacturers today: how to find and keep the people who make packaging technology work (see p. 87),

Pack Expo itself will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, November 8 through Wednesday, November 11. On Thursday, November 12, Pack Expo will be open from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Pack Expo is sponsored by the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (Arlington, VA). Some 1귔 exhibiting companies will take part in Pack Expo. Another 350 exhibitors are expected to participate in the IEFP, which is sponsored by the Food Processing Machinery & Supplies Assn. (Alexandria, VA.). Together, the combined shows are expected to attract 75ꯠ attendees.

At Pack Expo, packaging and converting machinery manufacturers represent a bit more than half of all exhibiting companies (58%), but they'll occupy about 80% of the floor space. Materials manufacturers and converters will cover another 16% of the floor space and comprise another 359 exhibitors, or 29%.

For those who haven't yet registered, PMMI will accept on-line registration at the show's Internet site: The $15 fee can be handled via a major credit card. Registration is valid for the duration of both Pack Expo and the IEFP. "Not only can you completely register on-line," says Dennis McGrath, PMMI show committee chairman, "but you can also find out about the latest program updates. With this dynamic web site, all the information visitors need is right at their fingertips."

More international attendees

Other ways to advance register include PMMI's fax-on-demand service (800/585-8098), or by phone (301/694-5243).

For the fourth consecutive Pack Expo, the show has been selected to participate in the U.S. Department of Commerce's International Buyer Program. The show's selection "from a wide range of applicants is both an indication of the quality of your event and the export potential of the industry it serves," James Boney, a Commerce Dept. product manager, wrote to PMMI.

For Pack Expo 98, the goal is to continue to increase the number of international buyers. When Pack Expo first participated in the International Buyer Program in 1990, 3귥 foreign visitors attended. The last show in '96 saw that number nearly double to 6꼏, and the sponsor expects the number will increase again this year.

Under the program, the Commerce Dept. uses its worldwide network to promote Pack Expo in its regional and embassy commercial newsletters and in Commercial News USA. The department also works with U.S. embassies and consulates to ensure maximum exposure.

During Pack Expo, the department will provide staff for the International Business Center. Their job will be to help match international buyers with U.S. exhibitors. Commerce will also promote to U.S. companies the various government export assistance programs. Where needed, the staff will also assist international visitors in meeting their objectives in both package purchasing and in representation needs.

For months, PMMI has marketed the show overseas, including advertising and the distribution of a multilingual promotion brochure in several languages. PMMI will also distribute a directory that will identify the export interests of U.S. companies exhibiting at Pack Expo.

More 'eye-openers' in '98

Following their unprecedented success in 1996, PMMI will again sponsor a series of three Eye Opener Breakfast sessions, from 7:30 a.m. until the show opens at 9 a.m.

Howard Dean, chairman and chief executive officer of Franklin Park, IL-based Dean Foods Co., will deliver the keynote address Monday morning to an audience expected to number 800. Titled Packaging: repositioning traditional products for new growth, Dean's remarks will describe his company's wildly successful "Chugs" packs for milk products.

These single-and multi-service packs have helped Dean record a dramatic 40% sales increase, and the innovative plastic bottles, closures and labels have already won numerous industry awards. Dean's address is co-sponsored by the Grocery Manufacturers of America.

On Tuesday, the subject is Scanning the market for the next retail packaging trends. The speaker will be Thomas Van Aman, executive vice president of Information Resources, Inc. (Northbrook, IL), a research company that tracks product movement in supermarkets. Van Aman has more than 11 years of management experience and previously held management positions at both Kraft Foods and Kellogg.

On Wednesday, the breakfast and eye-opener will focus on packaging machinery. The speaker will be Fred C. Erler, vice president of Nordson Corp. and current PMMI chairman. With considerable experience in marketing and management of both packaging and converting machinery, Erler will use his background and the resources of PMMI to report on The state of the U.S. and Canadian packaging machinery business.

PMMI reminds that these sessions are complimentary, and admission is "first come, first served." In the past, some of these eye-openers were standing-room-only, so attendees need to be there early.

Education pavilion returns

in '98, PMMI is again donating nearly 2귔 sq' in McCormick Place's South Hall for the Packaging Education and Training Pavilion. This year, 16 universities, colleges and technical schools will participate to explain the packaging training and educational opportunities they offer both to individuals and to companies. Schools range from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA, to Rutgers in Piscataway, NJ, and from Mohawk College in Brantford, Ontario, Canada to Clemson in Clemson, SC.

"The number one priority of the PMMI Education and Training Foundation is to strengthen the industry's workforce," stresses Walter Langosch, who chairs the Foundation and is vice president of Arpac. "Pack Expo 98 is the perfect place for both companies and individuals to locate job opportunities and interview personnel during the show."

Along with the various schools, the pavilion will house representatives from some eight allied trade associations that provide education and training. PMMI's own Education Center staff will be on hand to discuss the association's training programs and materials. A session at PMMI's spring meeting featured prominent packagers explaining what they want in training from PMMI members and other equipment manufacturers (see page 58).

The pavilion will offer ample space for its Job Opportunity Board where companies can display job openings and where individuals looking to interview for positions can register their resumes.

Student participation

Thus far, PMMI's Foundation has distributed more than $50ꯠ in scholarships to students studying packaging-related courses throughout North America. Many of these students, Langosch reports, will be attending Pack Expo 98 to enhance their education. "The Foundation has been able to increase financial support for Pack Expo by twenty-five percent over the last show," says Deb Rapone, PMMI's director of education. "We want the packaging students to attend the show to meet and interact with the companies that are making a difference in packaging today."

These scholarships take two forms. Work scholarships to selected students provide travel and hotel accommodations in exchange for the students working half days during Pack Expo. In addition, PMMI provides travel scholarships directly to schools for student expenses in conjunction with attending Pack Expo.

"These scholarships bolster student efforts to learn more about the world of packaging. We are looking forward to assisting these students in understanding what the packaging business is all about, and to ensure well-trained and motivated packaging professionals," says Langosch.

"Their participation in this world-class event gives them a glimpse into the packaging marketplace and will help prepare them for future employment." (The role packaging students and graduates play in company hiring plans is explored in several articles in this issue's special report on recruiting and retaining, "The Staffing Struggle," beginning on page 87.)

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