Reg Cunningham

Reg CunninghamChapter Champion

Reg Cunningham Receives

2018 IADD Pillar Award

At a recent chapter meeting, Reg Cunningham received the IADD Pillar Award in appreciation of his many years of helping the Can-Am Chapter put on quality programs and speakers. The IADD Pillar Award recognizes an individual who has unselfishly shared their knowledge and time for the benefit of others and of the Association. It is their many contributions that embody the IADD’s existence. The Cutting Edge caught up with Cunningham:

Congratulations on receiving this award!
Well let me tell you, I’m surprised at this award, as I didn’t expect this. I’m truly honored. This award is very special to me since it has to do with helping to start and keep the Can-Am Chapter going. It was a great chapter when it started and is still one of the best chapters in the IADD. The Pillar Award to me means just how it sounds—a stable and essential support.

There have been a lot of people over the years supporting this chapter. To name a few: Pat Quinlan, Derrick Ames, John Worrall, John Elles, Gord Peters, Stephen Brighton, Rinaldo Gualtieri, Angelo Palozzi, Nancy Kapp and many more.

What motivates you to continue to do this, year after year?
What motivates me is the will to share what I have learned. I believe in ten years, if the young people in our industry are not given the chance to learn like I have, this industry will be in trouble. We are already having trouble filling manufacturing jobs in this industry right now. Companies are looking for diemakers, diecutters, glue operators and printers, and there are few schools that teach this right now.

What are the challenges in doing this?
The challenge for running a technical meeting in this day in age is getting people to the meetings. Everyone is too busy, not willing to give up their free time to attend or their companies won’t let them go because they are needed onsite.

Do you have a favorite chapter meeting you can tell us about?
We put on some great meetings over the years—paperboard plant tours, golf outings and some great technical topics.

I have one chapter meeting that I can remember very well. After the meeting, there were tons of people telling me about how great it was. I believe there were about 140 attendees. People asked me, “How did your chapter group do that?” I can remember saying, “If there is no meat, you won’t get any fish.” If you have good speakers and topics, people will come.

How did you get involved in IADD? How has the chapter changed since you got involved?
I got involved in the IADD after my supervisors took me to a few meetings. I was asked to be a chapter leader, and I said yes. We had two chapter meetings a year, spring after the snow was gone and fall before the snow started. We planned meetings with the chapter group at a local bar since it was before conference calls. We discussed what we wanted as a topic and got a speaker to come and talk about it, making sure it was something everyone wanted to hear about.

That was then, and this is now. People look everything up online, no one has time to travel or give up home time for meetings. Yes, you can get a lot off the internet, but talking to people face to face and getting answers from experienced individuals in the industry is priceless. If you go to a meeting and it’s not everything you are looking for, there are probably people there that can help you. All you have to do is speak up, and someone may have the answer or know someone that can help.

How did you get started in the industry?
I started at 18 years old in a folding carton plant in Canada at Howell Packaging. I then went to Dover Industries.

I started at the bottom pushing scrap up into a baler from the waste from the stripping department. I got the chance to assist on a diecutter and then ran the diecutter. I then moved to pre-makeready and eventually was asked be a supervisor who would oversee the die shop and diecutting.

During that time, I was taking classes at night for business, and I was asked to take the job of converting manager. I finished my schooling in business and then was asked to take the position of plant manager.

I did this until 2005 when Dover Packaging was sold. I was asked at that time by Walter G. Anderson, Inc. in Minnesota, USA to come work for them. I started there as converting manger and in 18 months I became the plant manager for the next six years. At that time, Walter G. Anderson, Inc. was sold to Graphic Packaging International, Inc. I left for California, USA and worked at Everett Graphics for three years. I’m now back in Minnesota in the packaging industry.

Who were/are your role models?
I have many people that I have grown close with and there are many people in the industry I call on from time to time for guidance. The IADD family, when you get in and get involved, will do anything to help provide answers and training. They are just good people that I call my friends. I would have never had it this easy without them, and I am very thankful.

What advice would you give to someone who is just considering entering the industry?
Think of yourself as your own corporation—the more you know, the more you’re worth to your company and every other company out there. Join the IADD and get involved. Network with as many people as you can—the more the merrier. You can never learn too much, so make sure to take all the training you can.
It’s truly a great industry and you can work in any country you want. What has your IADD participation meant to you? I am always on the leading edge of technology, and the people involved with the IADD have kept me there. Participation with this group has helped all of the companies I’ve worked for.

What should we know about you personally?
As I have told many people, this is not a job, it’s a passion. My wife will tell you I love what I do and wouldn’t have it any other way. Besides work, I like NASCAR, football and being with family and friends doing thing that keep me busy.

IADD congratulates Reg Cunningham as a 2018 Pillar Award recipient. See other IADD awards and honorees online here