Q&A with Renee Schouten

Photo courtesy of INX International

Following her appointment as president at IMDPA late last year, INX International’s Renee Schouten updates us on her plans in her new role and developments at the association

 

What is the role of the International Metal Decorating and Packaging Association (IMDPA)?

The IMDPA represents individuals from around the world promoting the interests of metal decorators, canmakers, designers, and trade suppliers involved in metal decorating and packaging worldwide. With more than 600 individual members, our organisation represents over 200 corporations. Our objective is to foster and encourage improvements and advances in the art of metal decorating through education, networking and communications. The IMDPA provides opportunities throughout the year for our members to promote their products and services to a global community.

How long have you been involved with the association?

I’ve been a member since 2004 and joined the board of directors in 2010. In 2015 I ascended to the executive board and my current two-year term as president follows my roles as the secretary/treasurer and vice president.

Briefly take us through your career path.

I started with INX International Ink Co in 2001 after graduating from SUNY Fredonia in New York state working out of our Dunkirk, NY location. I relocated to Illinois where our corporate offices are located in 2002 as marketing specialist for the company.  Shortly after I received my MBA from DePaul University. Since then, I’ve held the role of marketing manager for the company and currently serve as director of marketing where I oversee our strategic marketing programmes and initiatives.

 

What are the current trends in metal decorating and packaging?

Of all the different types of metal packaging, cans continue to be the most popular. As canned beverages are being considered trendy among younger generations, and ready-to-eat or semi-processed canned foods are considered convenient and economical, the penetration of canned products is increasing rapidly. Metal cans are also gaining traction in the packaged water, wine and seltzer categories. These cans offer sustainability advantages, and significant producers can be expected to continue to invest in developing technologies for beverage can production, light-weighting techniques, and improvement in can functionality. Current design trends in beverages are vibrant, wild colours, custom lettering, simple and clear messages conveying the brand’s story as well as sustainability, ‘natural’, and healthy ingredients.

 

What will your focus and objectives be as president of IMDPA?

During these next two years, I hope to pioneer programmes that will have a lasting impact on our membership. I plan to focus on increasing our value to the industry with new quarterly webinars, tools our members can use to promote their product(s) and increasing our online presence with digital content. Together with the membership committee I plan to focus on member retention and new member recruitment both of which are very important. We will continue to build on the important initiatives our college education and technical resources committee have set forth to attract younger generations and intend to provide access to new educational tools and resources that our members can use for years to come. We recently released a brand new Product Innovations and Insights e-newsletter and are rebranding our long-standing association newsletter as FundaMetals.

How will you ensure that IMDPA represents and engages our industry?

Over the next two years and moving forward we will be putting a great deal of time and effort into industry and member engagement, emphasizing our value proposition and utilising the online tools and resources that are at our disposal.

We recently sent out a membership survey to get a better understanding of our members’ key challenges and needs to make sure we are providing the right information and resources and meeting their expectations.

We will make sure our website, benefits and resources are simple and easy to use. We will stay on top of trends and leverage social media in our efforts to not only promote metal decorating and packaging but educate our audience as well.

We will create opportunities for interactions not just in person but via webinars with live Q&A sessions.

 

What are the current key challenges the industry is facing?

Global manufacturing stands at a critical point in its long history and how industry leaders view and react to the changing landscape will influence its future. Two of the key challenges facing the industry are the multi-generational workforce and the growing skills gap and the increased demand for cans due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

As technology, demographics, and economic climate shift, the metal packaging industry must meet demand challenges, focus on employee skills sets and innovate in order to stay competitive.

Research from the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte predicts there could be as many as two million unfilled manufacturing jobs by 2025, up from initial estimates of 600,000.

But Baby Boomers are ageing and retiring and there are simply not enough skilled workers to fill the positions they’re leaving.

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