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Forward Thinking and Moving Forward

THE BUSY TIME OF YEAR IS ALL YEAR

We are well into 2022 and business is brisk. As we go into the New Year, we enter what we have historically called our slow time of the year. Now we are finding there is no longer a slow time.

Since the beginning of the Pandemic, we have heard from a number of our customers that they have successfully adapted to meet these new challenges that we all face. We have also seen many companies that we had previously engaged with years ago coming back to us in search of domestic supply.

Our goal has been to take care of those that want cans made in America by local talent. Global logistics are a mess and are expected to remain turbulent for 1-2 more years. Independent Can is committed to Made in America manufacturing, as well as coordination with our partners overseas to produce what we can’t domestically automate. We want to be the primary source of quality, metal packaging in the United States.

We, as all businesses in this country, are challenged to find talent. Worker shortages will be with us for a long time, but we are optimistic about the future. That is why we are investing in automation and state of the art equipment at the highest level in the history of Independent Can. Our goal is to make more cans every hour, with the employees that we have, through automation and skills training. By doing this we will be able to raise wages and expand benefits.

Automation means a lot of different things to many people. We are focused on building safety into every process to ensure that the job is less physically demanding. We want our associates managing processes through technology, not physicality. Our primary goal is speed to market with delivery on time, every time. The journey we are on will require 1-2 years although the foundation will be in place by the end of this year.

STEEL SUPPLY VARIABILITY

While there continues to be steel supply chain issues, we are very fortunate to have steel mills that have increased our allocations. We have steel under contract for deliveries through the balance of 2022 and into 2023. That is the good news. The bad news is that lead times have increased dramatically. We can expect to wait 8-9 months for steel, whereas 3 years ago, the lead time was 3-4 months.

 BETTER THAN THE PAST

As I am writing this article, we are in the process of relocating equipment in our plants to establish a more efficient flow of materials through the business. We are looking to hire individuals that desire an exciting and dynamic place to work; individuals that are seeking a career and not just a job. Our company is looking toward the future as being better than the past, and we want to bring on people with that same mentality.

I hope that all of our customers and prospects know that we are a fully integrated can maker: pre-press (Art Development), printing plate making, flat sheet printing and coating (in Belcamp, MD and Vandalia, OH) and can making. We have a machine shop where we both maintain and build our tooling. With 93 years of family ownership, we are committed to Made in America.

Please stay tuned for announcements as we bring online the new processes. What we are doing is transformational and will be for our customers and the decorative specialty business in the United States.

Rick Huether

President and CEO


First Quarter 2022 - Looking Forward

First Quarter - Looking Forward with Excitement and Optimism

 It’s time to move forward and stop talking about and being frustrated by COVID. Covid will become synonymous with flu and all the other recurring respiratory viruses that we have learned to live with over the years.

 At Independent Can we are working with the health safety issues as directed by the CDC and making our facilities as safe as is possible while respecting and being considerate of everyone’s personal beliefs.

 As a business, we are laser-focused on being the best manufacturer and printer in the specialty can industry. Our guiding goals and strategic plan is based on being the Supplier of Choice to our identified core markets and to be the Employer of Choice to our very talented and loyal employees.  

 Having five can plants and two lithography facilities provides regional and national supply with 2–3-day delivery throughout North America.

 Being Employer of Choice means:

·        Invest in systems that reduce ergonomic issues and benefit the long-term health of our employees

·        Automate processes that allow our associates to manage systems versus having repetitive physical motion

·        Reduce the number of product touches between lithography and the truck picking up finished tins providing a safer environment.

·        Career path and training development from date of hire for employees

 Being Supplier of Choice means:

·        On time, every time

·        Quality

·        Safety- for all employees

·        Product Safety- SQF-2 (Safe Quality Food Institute Plant certification)

·        Lean as a culture

·        World class can lines utilizing Industry 4.0 digital

·        Continuous Improvement approach to all processes

·        Continuous Investment – the long-term view

·        Products globally competitive

 I will admit that some of the points listed above are today aspirational, although we are committed to this list. We currently have committed investments that represents the largest investment into the business in our history.

Preparing for New Equipment

Through the past two years, we have seen how severely the Global Supply Chain issues have affected our current customers and former customers have asked to come back to domestic production due their inability to secure reasonable delivery from overseas. Our goal is to provide a platform for all users of specialty and commodity tins to be able to buy locally (Made in America) at globally-competitive costs and receive printed or plain cans in 4-6 weeks from order, with confidence.

 I will state one more time, although we are not there yet, please stay tuned and speak with our sales staff about the many changes coming in the next 12 – 24 months. After 93 years in the can business, we have learned what it takes to thrive in an ever-changing world. We are now committed to the next transformational phase in our history.

 Rick Huether

President and CEO

2021, 4th Quarter - A Busy and Frustrating Year

2021, 4th Quarter - A Busy and Frustrating Year

My last posting was over a year ago and I regret that I have taken so long to post an update as to how the can business is doing.

 Since the beginning of the COVID-19 event began, the world of can making has been very challenging in so many ways. It is hard to put this into perspective. I will try and bring everyone up to date on what we have seen and where Independent Can is going.

 In the first few months of the COVID Pandemic, we were very quickly designated as essential. From day one, we never missed a day of making cans and this is the result of dedicated, talented and committed employees. Early on, we sent about 20% of our staff to work from home and even today we have about 15% still working at home and they may continue to work this way as normal.

 As a business year, 2020 was very good for sales as many customers that were internet based saw a significant growth. Fortunately, we were prepared for the growth, having the steel in house and the capacity to delivery at a very high on time rate (84%) after a poor year in 2019 of on time delivery at 62%.

 2021 has been a very frustrating year.

In August of 2020, we recognized that steel was going to be a problem, supply, cost, and ordered enough steel to fill the forecasted commitment for 2021 sales. The challenge that presented itself was that those that had committed to the 2021 forecast did not expect the growth to be as high as it has been this year. We also did not expect steel to be in such short supply. So many of our customers came back to buy tins domestically vs. buying tins from overseas. Today our on-time delivery is standing at 84%. We expect that this number will drop over the next month as we are so late on so many orders.

 Why are we so backed up?

We have the installed capacity for making cans but getting steel through the supply chain challenges and hiring and maintaining the labor force necessary to run all can line has been very difficult.

 What have we done to correct this situation?

We have raised starting wages and most all wages throughout operations. We have given bonuses, place billboards along highways and we have recruiters looking for those that will fit and thrive in our culture.

  Some of our goals are to be the Employer of Choice, the can supplier of choice and to deliver all orders in a 5-6-week period from date of order (this may be the most difficult.)

 What are we doing now to meet the lead time goal?

  •   Increasing Lithography capacity
  •  Automation throughout to minimize number of individuals on each line. (Automation over the years has increased our employee base by allowing Independent Can to protect business that we have and then to onboard new business. Automation protects jobs.)
  •   Training and cross training at all levels. (We have hired a corporate trainer.)

 To be successful in any business Passion and Commitment is required. Independent Can has been committed to “made in America” since our founding and this commitment is stronger than ever.

 To all, I want to express our regret for the lateness on orders this year. We are not sitting on our hands and doing nothing. We will be stronger in 2022 and the future. The investments we are making now are substantial and for the long term.

 As we enter 2022 we will share what some of the investments are, how and when they will come on stream.

 Please stay safe and healthy and continue to communicate with our sales force, letting us know how we can best meet your metal packaging needs.

 Sincerely,

Rick Huether

President and CEO

Third Quarter 2020

2020, 3rd Quarter - An Unusual Year

As we approach the fourth quarter 2020, I wanted to bring all of our customers, employees and prospects up to date on many exciting actions and activities going on at Independent Can Company.

This year will be remembered as a year of many challenges for individuals and for businesses. Many of these challenges have threatened the existence of companies and has cost a huge number of jobs throughout the United Sates and the world.

Impact of COVID-19

COVID-19 has also brought sickness to many and the death of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. All of these events will have long term effects on how we all interact and how we run our businesses.

Independent Can Company has weathered the challenges very well. Being considered an essential business, due to the food cans we make, has allowed us to maintain our employment and grow. The past few years have been difficult mainly due to the Steel Tariffs imposed on our industry. We also installed a new ERP program (Enterprise Resource Planning program) that took 3 years to really fine tune the data being collected, and today has started show it’s many benefits.[image

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In 2018 and 2019 we were delivering only 50 – 60% on time to many of our customers which was really frustrating to us and to our customers. Today, we have improved our on-time delivery to over 80% year to date with a goal of 90% plus on time.

Every year is different and this year is no exception. The COVID-19 pandemic has been both good for Independent Can Company and bad. You may ask how can it be both and I will try and answer this is as few words as possible. We have worked for years on new business and much of it has come on line this year, as planned. 

Many of our customers that are internet-based have had a very good year also and have increased their purchases more than we expected as people stayed home and shipped gifts to their loved ones. This unanticipated volume, though welcome, has challenged our supply chain to provide enough steel when need for the orders which were not forecasted. Late delivery of steel means printing schedules become compressed and this bottle neck flows right into the can

plants.

One would think, with the significant number of people out of work, due to the businesses that have shut down, that we could find and hire employees to provide more capacity to run more can lines. However, we have found that hiring individuals has been real problem. Skilled workers are hard to find and young people that are willing to come on board and devote the time to the full training programs are very rare.

Independent Can Company is committed to this business and we will continue to look for ways to on board talent as well as investments in systems that allow us to operate even in times of scarcity. ICC remains committed to building apprentice programs to provide the electrical, mechanical and operators positions for the future.

I want to apologize to those customers that have received their orders late and assure you that we are running our plants 6-7 days a week to catch up. Please stay in touch with your sales representative for updates. We are having all hands-on deck sales meetings so all of the sales reps. know what is going on every day.

As I mentioned earlier in this write up last year we were only 50 – 60% on time. This year we are near 80% On Time. This is remarkable improvement and thanks to teamwork from everyone at ICC. While we are happy with improvement, we cannot celebrate until we have achieved our goal.

Thank you for your patience and never hesitate to challenge us to improve.

Rick Huether

President and CEO