Volume 50: Intro to CorrExpo’s Talent Crisis Discussion

This is the 50th VolumeRoy of our Outside the Box E-Newsletter.

I’ll be honest, I thought we’d have run out of things to talk about, or you guys would have told me to shut up, by now. But, we keep on plugging away.

So, I want to briefly say thank you to everyone that reads our newsletter every three weeks.

It has led to some exciting things at Oberg and Associates, and I’m always flattered when I get a call or an email in response to one of these newsletters. Sometimes, the calls or emails agree with what I’ve said and ask questions, sometimes, they’re just well wishes, and sometimes, the person vehemently disagrees with me and wants to tell me how dumb I am. I even get the occasional message making fun of the bad lighting in the picture. I welcome all of this dialogue, and enjoy the interaction with the industry.

The most exciting, recent response to this newsletter is that I have been asked to speak at the upcoming CorrExpo in Providence, RI.

I will be speaking next to a very bright professor from Clemson University, Nona Woolbright, about the staffing challenges the industry has faced, currently faces, and will face in the years to come.

The world is changing, and as painful as it might be, the corrugated industry is going to have to change with it if it wants to continue to grow.

You used to be able to make a living wage on the floor of a plant right out of high school. Enough that, if you were smart, you could get married, buy a house, and have a few critters without going bankrupt.

If you wanted to move up, there were generally opportunities for you to do so. And you wanted to do it at your current company, because you took pride in the company you worked for.

You invested in it, and the companies invested right back into the people.

In case you hadn’t noticed, the world isn’t like that anymore.

These days, companies expect more experience, but don’t increase the compensation to match it. That, tied in with massive inflation, and it’s much more difficult to afford the “American Dream” of a family with a couple kids, and a house with a white picket fence these days.

And we haven’t even begun to talk about the explosion of options that exist now. If you’re a young professional entering the workforce, why would you go work in a hot, smelly box plant where you’re going to be yelled at every day, when you can go work in a nice, air-conditioned office and be home in time to catch the 6 o’clock Sportscenter?

So how do we make working in a box plant more attractive for the next generation of the workforce? What can companies do to reclaim some of the pride that people used to have in their employers?

What a good topic for a TAPPI conversation!

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