IoPP gets down to business

New initiatives on many fronts help the IoPP write a dynamic new chapter in continuing packaging education.

The Institute of Packaging Professionals has always been about continuing packaging education, including through its flagship book, The Fundamentals of Packaging Technology.

Since September 1, 2001, when Landon, Farrey & Associates (LF&A) began managing the organization, IoPP has gotten back to the fundamentals. IoPP members we interviewed for this special update made it clear that LF&A, which defines its role as “adviser and facilitator,” has facilitated a re-energized IoPP. That’s quite an improvement from our last IoPP report in May 2002, “Can IoPP strengthen its chapters?” (see www.packworld.com/go/c116).

June Anderson, IoPP president and a member since 1984, says, “IoPP has gone through definite struggles, but after we started the management relationship with [LF&A], we really seemed to take off again.”

Take off is right. Membership stood at 3겘 when LF&A took over. It now stands at 4꾧, a 56% increase.

There’s more behind the new and improved IoPP than LF&A. “We have a very dynamic board and executive committees that have us headed in the right direction,” Anderson says. “The current IoPP strikes a very good balance between LF&A management and IoPP. None of the decisions are made by [LF&A], all the input and direction comes from the executive committee and council of officers, who themselves are members located throughout the country.”

Past president and current IoPP chairman Thomas Schneider says, “Compared to four years ago, the change has been like night and day—it’s absolutely marvelous.”

“There’s a leadership team in place that’s so committed to making sure there’s value for all members,” adds vice president of chapters Jane Chase, “but we couldn’t do it without LF&A.”

An IoPP member for 10-plus years, Chase is also on the Council of Officers and oversees IoPP’s 39 chapters spread throughout the United States. “There’s a wonderful energy at the chapter level now that you can feel,” Chase says. “The last two years have been especially fantastic.”

IoPP has worked hard to connect chapters better regionally and nationally, Chase says. Besides regional meetings, another way has been sharing of best practices. Meeting suggestions and other ideas are shared regionally and through the www.iopp.org Web site (see sidebar p.167).

“That’s rejuvenated some chapters that needed some good ideas,” adds Anderson. For example, a successful “Corrugated Regatta” fundraiser originated by the Golden Gate Chapter in San Francisco is expected to be adapted by other chapters.

“We don’t want to stay the course of the past,” says Anderson, “we’re trying to move beyond that. We’re trying to institute processes for our continued growth now and in the future.”

The IoPP’s growth, past, present, and future, has its roots deep in education.

IoPP stands alone

IoPP director of education Stan Zelesnik says “education is our only mission, and there is no one other than IoPP to carry packaging education all the way through retirement.” A cornerstone of IoPP education is its Fundamentals book, now in its third edition with a fourth on the horizon. Zelesnik points to IoPP’s recent education initiatives, which include:

• The “cloning” of Fundamentals author Walter Soroka so that five other instructors can also teach the course throughout the country.

• A “Fastrack” program that condenses the Fundamentals course to 10 days.

• Custom in-house courses have been conducted at General Mills, Clorox, Wyeth, and elsewhere.

• Fundamentals translated into Italian and English. Interestingly, the book was “translated” into an English version with modifications for a British readership, he points out. It has also unofficially been translated into Russian. “We know there are pirated versions in Russia and elsewhere,” Zelesnik adds.

The coursework can lead to Certified Packaging Professional (CPP) recognition. Some 90% of IoPP members recently polled said that the CPP was important. For instance, Gulf Coast chapter president John Hayward of Hewlett-Packard makes CPP a prerequisite for those who work for him. In speaking at the Smart Packaging conference last month that IoPP coproduced, Hayward praised the IoPP, noting that “if it wasn’t for IoPP, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Here is a sampling of some IoPP programs:

CONFERENCES: The IoPP’s involvement in conferences such as Smart Packaging is another growth area. It has also cosponsored the Flexible Packaging and Dimensions (transport packaging) conferences.

AMERISTAR AWARDS: The IoPP conducts the annual AmeriStar awards in packaging, which were announced last month (see News p. 11) and were “way up in total entries over last year,” according to Landon. The awards are a precursor to the WorldStar Awards, and in fact the IoPP 2003 Best of Show, Dosepak® from Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals, received the WorldStar’s (top) Presidents Award.

TECHNICAL COMMITTEES: There are 10 technical committees, including one for Chemical Packaging and one for Medical Devices, to name just two.

Executive director Ed Landon—the L in LF&A—expects there will be a strong Food & Beverage Task Force by next year that will tackle timely issues like security and bioterrorism.

WEBINARS: IoPP launched Web seminars starting in November 2003. Attendance has ranged from 50 to 300 for topics such as pallet standards and radio-frequency identification (RFID), the subject of two Webinars. Zelesnik discloses plans for an upcoming multipart Webinar series—a first for IoPP—on nanotechnology.

IoPP will also debut market-specific Webinars such as on medical device packaging, which may cut down on attendance, but bring high value to those interested, Zelesnik says.

Making the grade

“We have members so excited to be part of this, they see that as an organization, we continue to make all kinds of positive changes,” says Anderson. “We’re bringing programs and benefits to them that they have never had in the past, and they are realizing the benefits of the membership because of those programs. We have more satisfied members.”

Asked how she’d grade IoPP management pre-LF&A, Chase says she couldn’t, “because it was nonexistent. We’d send in the financial statement to [IoPP] and that was it.” Chase gives the new and improved IoPP an A-, but only because she says there is always room for improvement.

“I’m very excited about IoPP’s future,” says Chase. “We’ve all done a very good job of re-energizing the organization and membership. IoPP can only get stronger, bigger, better.”

Says Landon, “We want to have an organization such that if you’re in packaging, you really need to be involved in IoPP.”

For anyone who wants to be part of it, visit www.iopp.org/join. Individual membership is $150. Packaging professionals may want to also consider the cost of not joining.

See the sidebar that goes with this story: Net Improvements

More in Coding, printing & labeling