Michigan City Paper Box is the 2019 Innovator of the Year

Capturing the imagination and vote of the majority of AICC 2019 Annual Meeting attendees, held recently in Toronto, ON, the “In-House English as a Second Language (ESL) Program” entry by Michigan City Paper Box Company won the 2019 AICC/Board Converting News/Corrugated Today Innovator of the Year Award.

This year’s competition was open to all AICC members and gave companies the opportunity to showcase innovations that focused on information technology and/or training; including innovative software, artificial intelligence, systems and programs, unique uses of off the shelf applications and educational programs that benefit the paperboard and packaging industry.   

The “In-House English as a Second Language (ESL) Program” was developed to address the challenge of a language barrier within their workforce. Michigan City Paper Box, with a desire to increase the efficiency of their workforce and provide them with a skill needed to allow them to be more productive members of their communities, the company partnered with The Language Company. The program offers three-hour sessions, two days a week, for nine weeks with beginner, intermediate/ advanced classes being offered. Michigan City Paper Box has seen a better communication on the plant floor, higher morale, and more confidence from the employees that are graduates of the program.  

Al Hoodwin, CEO, Michigan City Paper Box, said, “It was a great honor to be selected by our industry peers for this award. AICC is an Association of very entrepreneurial leaders and this program is just another example of how we share best practices with our fellow members. Our ESL program was a great success improving communications amongst our employees as well as solidifying the bonds between our employees in the plant. Not only has this program reduced turnover, but it has also given these employees the skills to better integrate themselves within the Community who we are all here to serve.” 

Second place was awarded to JB Machinery for their “Fully Comprehensive Control Interface” submission and the third place winner was the “A Production Scoreboard” entry submitted by EFI.

Finalists included Stickle Steam Specialties with their entry “A Steam System Dashboard” and Advantzware with their entry “A Machine-to-Cloud Solution to Assess and Score Resources.”

Developed twenty-eight years ago as a forum for boxmakers and suppliers to put forward their best innovations, the Innovator of the Year has since evolved into a highly competitive arena that highlights the technological innovations of AICC members in production, material handling, manufacturing, training and administration. Sponsored by AICC, Board Converting News, and Corrugated Today, the competition alternates its focus between box makers, suppliers, and non-machinery aspects of the converting industry.

The next Innovator of the Year competition will feature innovations from AICC Associate Members (suppliers) in the Machinery category. Submission information on the 2020 Innovator of the Year Competition will be available in May 2020 at www.aiccbox.org/innovator.   

Questions about the Innovator of the Year Award and the value a well-connected workforce brings to a company can be directed to Cindy Huber, AICC Director of Conventions & Meetings, at chuber@aiccbox.org or 703.836.2422 or Laura Mihalick, Senior Meeting Manager, at lmihalick@aiccbox.org or 703.836.2422.