KBA North America

KBA Group President and CEO Claus Bolza-Schünemann Keynotes Paperboard Packaging Council’s Fall Conference

Rousing an audience of more than 200 North American paperboard packaging leaders during his speech, KBA Group president and CEO Claus Bolza-Schünemann was a keynote speaker at the Paperboard Packaging Council’s 2013 Fall Meeting and Leadership Conference held on October 23-25, 2013 at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Dallas, TX. Bolza-Schünemann presented an international outlook on the packaging industry including his insight into leading trends and his leadership and management philosophies for global organizations.

Bolza-Schünemann’s speech resonated with his upbeat, bullish views of the industry, saying, “I see the glass half full; I remain positive. I’m pleased to see the growing consumer focus on sustainable packaging. In a more paperboard-friendly climate, innovation and design opportunities can flourish, and I have recently seen more creative, eco-friendly paperboard packaging designs – this is the “can-do, proactive American spirit” this country was founded on.”

Citing one of his favorite quotes from his great great grandfather Frederick Koenig, Bolza-Schünemann linked that inspiration to the essential dialogue between management and its employees. “My relative said, ‘Happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.’ He’s right: I believe that we need to recognize and reward our employees for their hard work and what they have contributed to the success of our companies. I personally am a huge believer in talking one-on-one with all employees, treating everyone with equal respect, getting down on the manufacturing floor, listening to concerns and even better asking about new ideas from the people that want to make a difference in our organization –empower your people.”

Much of his keynote address stressed the importance of a competent workforce to succeed. “The best advice I can give you is to hire the best people and listen to them – even if they have not been in your industry or business as long as you. Listen to your sales teams as well as your production staff,” he reiterated.

He proudly noted that KBA has been fortunate to have great visionary leaders and dedicated capable employees over its nearly 200 years in business. The company was founded by Friedrich Koenig and Andreas Friedrich Bauer in Würzburg in 1817, making it the oldest printing press manufacturer in the world and the world’s first press manufacturer.

Bolza-Schünemann even struck a positive tone about the most recent economic conditions affecting the global printing industry. These situations, he said, make everyone emerge stronger than before. KBA has made the most of the challenging post-crisis years, moving up to second place as a printing press manufacturer. Early diversification and the resulting broadening of its product mix have enabled the company to spread its risks. Solid financing, with an above-average equity ratio of almost 40 percent, and the fact that KBA is not dependent on a dominant capital investor means that the firm is well placed to maintain and expand its market standing, he noted. “Whether you are a small 50 employee firm or large international firms with thousands of employees, these good business practices are applicable to any size firm,” he said.

Bolza-Schünemann concluded his speech by warning naysayers about the industry. “We keep hearing that “print is dead”—nonsense! The fact is that there are millions being made every day in print, and there will be millions made in print for the foreseeable future. Does that sound like death to you? It doesn’t to me either. It is about positioning yourself for the future.”

Highlights of the fall conference also included a dinner to honor the winners of the North American Paperboard Packaging Competition, plant tours of Southern Champion Tray and American Carton, and comprehensive presentations from professors, authors, economists, executives, and thought leaders on topics such as recruitment, maintaining customer loyalty, sustainability, and industry trends.

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