Digital Magazine

Craig S. Sheppard

  • Executive Director of AIMCAL
  • Management style | Hands-on. Do whatever it takes. Sometimes being executive director means I take out the trash.
  • How did you get into the converting business? I started my career with Rexham Custom (now Exopack) in 1984 in new business development.
  • What is the key to growing a business in a bad economy? Growing your business in a bad economy may not be possible. Sometimes the key to long-term health is contracting. I do believe that you need to understand your business, your opportunities, and your challenges, then act accordingly. Don't panic in a bad economy. Watch your costs, but continue the path that you have selected toward your goals.
  • What is the biggest mistake you made and how did you fix it? A friend once said he would rather be running in the wrong direction than standing still. I believe the biggest mistake anyone can make is being afraid to make a mistake. You fix that by being willing to take risks and learn from your successes and your failures.
  • How do you handle a difficult customer? Get out of your box and put yourself in their shoes and look for a solution. Often you will see that they have some valid points. Once you truly understand the issues, you can work toward a solution.
  • What keeps you up at night? As an association representing the technology base of web coating, it is critical that we stay relevant in terms of our value to our members. Usually I am thinking about what is next, though I must admit, I sleep pretty good.
  • What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started out? The importance of listening. You aren't learning anything when you're talking.
  • What is the best advice you ever got? Don't reply to an angry phone or e-mail message until the next day. A cooler head will prevail.
  • What is the worst advice you ever got? “Don't take that AIMCAL job. You'll get bored.”
  • What hobbies do you enjoy? I collect old jukeboxes — in fact I currently have five in the house and a 50's Wurlitzer in the office. If you call AIMCAL and hear “oldies” in the background, now you know where it's coming from.
  • What is the biggest threat to the converting industry right now? I don't think the converting industry is threatened. New markets are looking to roll-to-roll processing to improve yields and lower costs. More traditional markets remain strong, competitive environments change, mergers and acquisitions have impact, new technologies emerge — all representing new opportunities for those who can understand and act on these changes.
  • What do you feel are the key qualities necessary to become a successful leader? Honesty, integrity, and patience are the three qualities I believe all good leaders must have. For me, No. 3 creates the greatest challenge.
  • Are there any management or business books that have influenced you? No. Who has the time?
  • What do you enjoy most about your job? The people I have met on this journey with AIMCAL. My role with the association has enabled me to interact with many people in this industry from all over the world. I have made lifetime friends, and I cherish that the most.


  • The Assn. of Industrial Metallizers, Coaters & Laminators
  • 201 Springs Street, Fort Mill, SC, 29715; 803-802-7820
  • www.aimcal.org
  • Founded 1970; 4 employees; 220+ members
  • Specialization | Web coating

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