Nearly 400 label industry professionals and their guests journeyed to the warm and sunny island of Sicily in June for the annual FINAT Congress. The three-day event was held in the Mediterranean town of Giardini Naxos, at the foot of (occasionally smoky) Mount Etna.
The congress marked the biennial changing of the organization's leadership. President Andrea Vimercati, of Pilot Italia, turned over the FINAT helm to Kurt Walker, of tesa Bandfix in Switzerland, who will lead the association for the next two years.
Attendees were treated to a first look at the winners of this year's FINAT Label Awards. The competition drew 360 entries, a record amount. The Best of Show award went to Collotype Labels USA (part of Multi-Color Corporation) for its Kenwood Artist Series label.
Kicking off the business meeting was Marcello Lunelli, a member of the family that has produced Ferrari Spumanti for several generations. He spoke of the attention and care necessary to maintain a successful family-run business, of the innovations that the younger generations have brought to a product that must maintain its historic quality and reputation, and of the importance of packaging: "The label is not secondary," Lunelli said. "To us it is essential."
Art Yerecic, chairman of the Tag & Label Manufacturers Institute, presented a snapshot of the North American label industry, saying that business had improved by the first quarter of this year. He also mentioned that 34 percent of TLMI members reported that they had added employees during the first quarter, and that only three percent had decreased their work force. Yerecic also gave an update about Project LIFE, TLMI's environmental certification program, and the increasing number of label converting companies that are participating.
UPM's Erkki Nyberg gave an overview of his company's recycling initiatives, mentioning the ProFi wood/plastic composite that the company has been producing for four years, which contains between 60 and 70 percent label waste. The company also is working on converting label waste to energy in fuel plants, and has introduced an ultrathin release liner called PP30, composed of recyclable polypropylene.
Thomas Baumgartner of Herma gave an overview of Cycle4Green, a program that collects spent release liner for recycling. The European Union is debating whether to designate release liner as packaging material, he said, adding that such a designation "would have a devastating impact" on the industry.
FINAT Managing Director Jules Lejeune gave his annual overview of label materials consumption, from information supplied by 12 materials producers. Demand in 2010 continued to recover, gaining 11.4 percent over 2009. Paper, which is 70 percent of demand, rose 9.5 percent, while non-paper labelstocks went up 15.3 percent. The bulk of the growth, he said, is being driven by converters in eastern and southern Europe, including Turkey.
On the final day of the event, John Hickey, president of Smyth Companies in the USA, entertained the crowd with his reflections on "five generations of running a family business without succession planning." He was followed by Miles Hilton Barber, a guest speaker who thrilled the audience with anecdotes and videos of his many adventures – flying planes, jets and hang gliders, hiking in Antarctica, and driving racing cars. Barber is blind, and yes, he actually did do all of those things, with a bit of help and a great deal of determination.
Kurt Walker takes the FINAT helm
FINAT, the European label association, has a new president for the next two years. Kurt Walker, CEO of tesa Bandfix in Switzerland, accepted the medallion of office from outgoing President Andrea Vimercati at the group's annual conference this month in Sicily.
The two recently shared their views of FINAT as it is today and will be tomorrow. Vimercati, a converter from Italy, said that the FINAT board and its various committees, had worked together to create a platform for the industry's development over a three- to five-year period, identifying the prime opportunities and the most pressing challenges. "That platform, which has already achieved much, is still in process," says Kurt Walker, "and the new presidency will entail no change in strategy. Our buzzwords are still 'continuity with flexibility', and we remain committed to forecasting future directions and preparing for them, as well as responding to present change issues."
It is obvious that the two men, despite an age difference of 20 years, think alike; and Walker, shares Vimercati's emphasis on making the industry young again – both through the inception of the Young Managers' Club, and the ongoing work on embracing new online media which, says Walker, "are so much a part of everyday life today, and have much to contribute in the business arena, in many ways."
Vimercati enlarges on that topic. "What FINAT represents for its members is a forum for communication, and we have built a strong team to drive interactive communication forward. During my presidency, I have seen a decisive move towards transparency within the FINAT hierarchy. FINAT is developing renewed, open partnerships with national associations – and I have personally been involved in taking that message around Europe. We are one industry, and need to behave as one industry: United Label Europe!
"We can do better if we work together, and present a united face to the world. Look how strong and successful TLMI is – but it's easier to create a single message platform if you just represent one country. In Europe, we have different languages and cultures to contend with – but FINAT can spearhead the drive to European label industry unity, creating a very functional working forum as an umbrella organization, and via meaningful relationships and dialogues with the national associations, both in Europe and beyond. In the self-adhesive label community, we must not forget that we are increasingly part of the global packaging community and thus of the extended global consumer goods market. That means we need a new mindset."
Other items on the agenda during Vimercati's presidency, which continue to be priorities for Walker, are lobbying in Europe's legislatures and sustainability. "Both these activities must be viewed in a global context," says Walker. "While FINAT must be the central processor in Europe, we will also reach out to other regional associations like TLMI (North America), JFLP (Japan), LATMA (Australia) and LMAI (India). Legislation and sustainability issues don't stop at country borders today."
As European industry regains its forward thrust following the economic crisis, the outgoing and incoming FINAT presidents share a conviction that there is much to be gained at all levels of the self-adhesive label supply chain if FINAT creates an enabling environment for the whole industry.
"The self-adhesive label, per se, deserves to be promoted as a marketing tool and as a clever product identifier, and our current and future FINAT agenda is strongly committed to achieving that", says Andrea Vimercati.
"All FINAT member companies will surely benefit from that approach in an increasingly competitive, globalized business environment. The good times may be behind us, but better ones are certainly ahead!"
News From TLMI
Save the dates: Tech Conference and Annual Meeting
Mark your calendars for this year's TLMI Technical Conference, which will be held at the Swissotel in Chicago September 6-8. The TLMI Technical Committee invites converters, suppliers and packaging buyers to explore the opportunities in the narrow web industry by attending the conference where technical experts will be presenting and discussing the latest in industry trends and market opportunities.
Conference Co-Chair Michelle Garza says, "Exploring the challenges and new opportunities of today's printing industry is the goal of TLMI's 2011 Technical Conference. This year's conference sessions are designed to help converters discover the investments and changes that they can make today, in order to create a more profitable tomorrow. The sessions will include the latest flexo printing techniques, best pressroom practices, sustainability processes and brand protection."
TLMI's Annual Meeting will be held October 16-19 at the Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale, Arizona. The event is open to all TLMI converter and supplier members.
"The theme of this year's TLMI Annual Meeting is Adaptation: Perspectives on Change and Creating New Value," says Meeting Chair Karen Moreland. "In today's turbulent global market, new opportunities are arising at a pace unprecedented in the tag and label industry. We're excited to bring together converters and suppliers to explore ideas aimed at enabling companies to deliver better solutions and enduring returns in rapidly-changing markets.Guest speakers and industry panel members have been selected to present themes on building loyalty, adapting to the changing global economy, and exploring future end user content and design concepts so that our industry can evolve and grow."
TLMI releases Biannual Index & Trend Report
TLMI has released the latest issue of the association's Biannual Index & Trend Report, a free publication to all TLMI member companies. A focus of the report was a presentation of the results from a recent survey the association conducted with brand owners and sourcing personnel who buy labels. These companies were asked about their sustainability practices and if it would become a requirement for their label vendors to achieve some type of environmental certification in the near future. As label converters are increasingly held under the microscope to show compliance for best environmental practices, TLMI's objective in surveying brand owners was to gauge the importance of environmental certification at the label-procurement level, and from which end-use categories converters are feeling the most pressure to comply.
The chart below is a sample graph from the report and indicates the importance brand owners place on their label vendors having environmental certification, broken down into the major end-use categories.
TLMI Members: The TLMI/NAPL alliance can help you
TLMI has formed a strategic alliance with NAPL (National Association for Printing Leadership) to offer the association's members access to NAPL's Business Advisory Services Team. This team is comprised of seasoned industry advisors and consultants available to assist TLMI members in creating a tailored program that meets their companies' requirements and business objectives. Does your company need assistance with strategic planning? More information about how to contact the NAPL can be found at www.tlmi.com.
TLMI merges two subcommittees
The Environmental Committee of TLMI (Tag & Label Manufacturers Institute) has merged two of its subcommittees. The Health and Safety Committee has merged with the Regulatory Affairs Committee and will operate as the TLMI Health, Safety and Regulatory Affairs Committee. The new subcommittee will be co-chaired by Jerry Palmer, North American channel manager for DuPont Packaging Graphics; and Kevin Frydryk, sales manager, label materials for ExxonMobil Chemical, films business.
"Informing association members about ongoing issues and solutions in environmental safety and health, and regulatory changes affecting the industry has been a top priority of the TLMI Environmental Committee," says Calvin Frost, Environmental Committee chairman. "There are key areas where issues of health and safety and regulatory affairs can share a common ground, and we thought it was an opportune time to pool the talent, know-how and resources of both subcommittees into one larger group. I am confident that Jerry and Kevin will do an outstanding job in continuing to direct subcommittee efforts, and to keep TLMI members informed of pertinent issues that affect all of us."