As board leadership evolves, a vision is firmly in place for the CPA

Thanks for the memories, and the glimpse of the future. Your future with the Contract Packaging Association is packed with excitement and potential. Things are considerably different from just 15 short years ago.

My first term on the association’s board of directors was in the mid-1990s. The association was in its infancy, having started a few years earlier with six forward-looking entrepreneurs and a soon-to-be director who thought contract packagers needed a forum to solve problems. The point? VISION.

Back then, the only functions of the association were semi- annual meetings in the spring and fall. Now the association has its own magazine, sponsors contract packaging-specific trade shows, is a clearinghouse for Requests for Quotes/Information from prospects, and is dedicated to providing opportunities for the betterment of its members. Our associate members provide a treasure chest (largely untapped) of information. The association is the epicenter of the contract packaging industry with its “State of the Contract Packaging Industry” report.

Back in the association’s early days, few CPs had sales of more than $5 million. Today, many exceed $50 million and operate more than 500,000 sq ft of space, and they have multiple, geographically dispersed facilities. Some are international; very few are global. The association began with six members and today numbers about 160, with a 400% increase in just the last six years. The point? GROWTH.

Selection process evolves

The board of directors also has changed dramatically. Initially, these positions were appointed. The pool of talent was so small that those who volunteered were appointed. There were only two positions: president and vice president. Today, to serve a broader base, the members elect the directors, and the directors elect the four officers, including a treasurer and a past-president.

As I look back on some of the directors, I see talented people no longer available to us for many reasons. Some worked for companies that merged with other companies, some sold their company, and some just closed their businesses and did something else. The point? CHANGE.

There you have it, the association’s past and its future. It also is yours. There is great opportunity ahead. You—yes, you—have to have a vision for your future. What do you want to be, and how will you get there? Leaders grow companies. You can’t shrink into a successful company. The old days of having just one or two local customers won’t cut it in today’s business environment. Consider strategic partnerships with your customers and packaging manufacturers, if speed-to-market is the objective. Think strategic partnerships.

Vision creates opportunity

There is much change in the customer base because of acquisitions (Procter & Gamble/Gillette), failures, or strategy direction (GM/Chrysler). New developments create a myriad of opportunity.

I personally want to thank everyone who has helped during my two terms as president. I especially want to recognize Tom Bacon, Eric Wilhelm, Ed Landon, and Pat Farrey for their help and counsel.

One business adage is that to be successful, surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, and let them do their job. I claim success here, with the association in the capable hands of John Riley, Sean McKeon, Joe Jaruszewski, Chris Nutley, Gerry Donley, Vic Stalam, and Stan Zelesnik.

There is only one day better than today to be a contract packager, and that is tomorrow. 

Contract Packaging Association President John Mazelin can be contacted at jmazelin@contract packaging.org.

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