About Independent Carton Group

The Independent Carton Group, an association of independently-owned-and-operated folding carton companies, helps its members provide exceptional products, service, and pricing to their customers through group purchasing, continuity assurance, and various educational and networking programs. What began with a few visionaries talking in an airport lounge in 1982 is now a major force in the packaging industry. The group currently consists of 18 companies in 15 U.S. states and Canada who collectively represent over $800 million in annual sales and 1,448 years of packaging history.

Our wealth of programs empowers ICG members to support each other to serve their customers better. The programs are rooted in members’ shared values and goals, which all stem from a mutual desire to remain competitive, expand their knowledge base and continue to deliver the same tremendous customer service they’ve been providing for decades, some for over a century.

This program was the impetus for the ICG’s founding in 1982. It exists to provide member-to-member assistance in the event of a catastrophe at any member’s manufacturing plant. If an ICG member ever experiences an unforeseen operational disruption, we quickly arrange for backup production to be provided by one or more of our other members -- so that all orders can still be fulfilled. It gives peace of mind for our members and enables the customers of ICG member companies to have confidence that they will have a consistent, reliable source for packaging.
All members are part of the ICG buying consortium, which was formed in 1999. Today, the ICG negotiates contracts with over 40 reputable vendors for things like equipment, paperboard, ink, and many other types of supplies. By negotiating contracts as a group, rather than as individual companies, we can capture volume discounts that help our members keep their costs down. Our members can offer competitive pricing by merely passing their savings on to customers.
Networking opportunities and presentations made by vendors and experts at the ICG’s quarterly meetings help our members stay current on the latest technology, manufacturing techniques, and developments in the folding carton industry. Members take turns hosting the sessions, which typically include a tour of the host company’s production facility. The meetings provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and the building of camaraderie among our group members.
Our technical conferences deliver up-to-date and relevant knowledge that benefits ICG members and their customers. While owners and executives attend membership meetings, technical conferences are only open to members’ production employees, those operating presses, handling paperboard, mixing inks, setting up jobs for production, ensuring quality, etc. Past conferences have covered the papermaking process, industry regulations, inks and special effects die-cutting, gluing techniques for increasing run speeds and reducing waste, and more.
Members also occasionally band together for other purposes, based on their shared values and goals. An excellent example of this is the energy efficiency program leveraged by members in 2011 and 2012. ICG member companies that implemented energy-efficient lighting solutions in their manufacturing plants, warehouses, and offices through this program and various other means are collectively saving over $1.8 million in electricity costs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by over 18.1 million pounds annually. Some ICG vendors also took advantage of this program.

Our History

“It’s amazing to think that such incredible vision came out of a meeting of competitors held so tentatively and cautiously at an airport all those years ago. Our members share the same values and goals, and they continue to prove the viability and power of working together as a cohesive and interactive group -- all while protecting each company’s competitive independence.” -- Jay Willie, Executive Director, Independent Carton Group

The Independent Carton Group was created when the owners of five independent folding carton manufacturers met at New York’s LaGuardia Airport in 1982. Each of the five people present at the meeting owned a company that was successful in its own right. All five companies produced quality packaging for reputable customers and employed experienced people who delivered excellent service. Over 400 years of packaging history were represented in the airport lounge that day. These five companies were quite similar in their independently owned business structure, in their lengthy and profitable histories, and in the types of packaging they produced for customers. But the similarities didn’t end there, and ultimately, it was their service commitments to customers and their concerns about production continuity and supply assurance that brought them together. At that meeting, these five business owners discussed how they could help each other through operational disruptions such as strikes and natural disasters as well as equipment and material supply issues. They didn’t want these types of unforeseen events to impact their ability to fulfill customer orders or deliver the excellent service that makes independents so unique.
This production continuity assurance program was the impetus for the ICG’s founding in 1982, and it has remained an essential program throughout our history. The group believes so strongly in our founders’ mission and the benefits of this flagship program that upon joining the ICG, all members sign a memorandum agreeing to render support, should the program be called into action. And it has been called into action; perhaps most notably in 2005 when a fire destroyed an ICG member’s manufacturing plant. Several members jumped in to assist, producing cartons and fulfilling orders until the member rebuilt their plant and resumed normal operations. Our members -- and their customers -- have peace of mind today because of this program.
Our five founders quickly discovered that, by banding together, they were able to compete more successfully against the large, integrated paper companies -- yet their first activities were rather modest. They took turns hosting meetings and gained value from each other's knowledge base. Over time, however, their vision has changed the way our independents do business today. By 1999, members had joined together to form a buying consortium, and today, we negotiate contracts with over 40 reputable vendors. This group purchasing program helps members keep costs down by capturing volume discounts. It saves them money on equipment, paperboard, ink, and other supplies, and creates a ripple effect with members passing the savings on to customers.
We continue to hold membership meetings, and just like they did back in 1982, members still take turns hosting the meetings. The agenda for each meeting typically includes a networking event and dinner for members, as well as a tour of the host member’s facility. These meetings are specifically designed for members’ owners and other key executives within member companies, and they provide a comfortable forum for the exchange of ideas and the building of camaraderie. But it’s not just members’ executives who benefit from networking and educational opportunities anymore. The first ICG technical conference was offered in 2005 for members’ production-level employees, and since then, technical conferences have increased in frequency and popularity. Like the general membership meetings, technical conferences are hosted by a member company or an ICG-approved vendor and include networking opportunities and a facility tour. They have covered everything from the papermaking process to industry regulations, to inks and special effects, to die-cutting and gluing, to techniques for increasing run speeds and reducing waste. Our meetings and technical conferences are a nod to the ICG’s founding fathers who, over three decades ago, made it possible for us to come together as a group of individual companies that all share a desire to ensure production continuity, improve operations and serve customers better. Every day, we see the result of our founders’ leap of faith and the strength of our group in action.

Leadership

Our leadership team consists of an executive director, two directors emeriti, and four elected board members who are owners and/or executives of ICG member companies. Daily operations are managed from the ICG offices in Newtown, Connecticut, by Jay Willie, executive director, Andy Willie, executive director emeritus and president of ICG, LLC, and Kim Pearce, the group's long-time executive assistant.

Jay Willie, Executive Director Independent Carton Group Andy Willie, ICG Executive Director Emeritus and President of ICG, LLC Previous Owner of Curtis Packaging Charlie Hirsh, ICG Director Emeritus Former President of Accurate Box, Robert Codo, ICG Director CEO of Accord Carton Bob Zumbiel, ICG Director CEO of Zumbiel Packaging Jim Hamilton, ICG Director Chairman of Colbert Packaging Jim Hodges, ICG Director President and CEO of Royal Paper Box
Kim Pearce, Executive Assistant Independent Carton Group
Patricia Peterson, ICG Technical Conference Chair

Membership

“This is not an association in which members can be casual observers. There’s amazing communication and collaboration among members, and each one hosts a meeting and facility tour every few years. These things are only possible because of members’ willingness to be highly engaged in the group.” -- Jay Willie, Executive Director, Independent Carton Group

Why Join The ICG?

There are many reasons why owners of folding carton companies want to join the ICG. Members have access to a purchasing program that makes their pricing more competitive. The group opens up doors to owner-to-owner communication among people who share similar business successes and challenges. Members can send employees to technical conferences to gain knowledge that helps them better serve their customers. And the production continuity assurance program provides them peace of mind that, even if faced with disaster, they will be able to fulfill orders.

There are many common threads among members. They all manufacture folding cartons, they are all independently-owned-and-operated, none of them are affiliated with a major paper mill, all have a customer-centric focus, and they all appreciate the benefits of ICG membership. All members are highly engaged in the group, and actively participate in the various programs.

All new members must be approved by the board of directors and voted in during a general membership meeting. Please contact us if you are interested in learning more about membership.

Who Are The Members?

Accord Carton — Alsip, Illinois

Accurate Box Paterson, New Jersey

All Packaging Aurora, Colorado

Colbert Packaging Lake Forest, Illinois

Curtis Packaging Sandy Hook, Connecticut

3C Packaging Clayton, North Carolina

Dee Packaging Solutions Chester, Pennsylvania

Diamond Packaging Rochester, New York

El Paso Paper Box El Paso, Texas

Frankston Packaging Frankston, Texas

Howell Packaging Elmira, New York

Indiana Carton Bremen, Indiana

Jones Healthcare Group London, Ontario, Canada

Outlook Group Neenah, Wisconsin

Royal Paper Box Montebello, California

Sonderen Packaging Spokane, Washington

Vista Color Miami, Florida

Wausau Container Wausau, Wisconsin

Winston Packaging Winston -Salem, North Carolina

Zumbiel Packaging Hebron, Kentucky