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ICG Patriarchs Reflect on Industry Evolution

In the most recent issue of Board Converting News, Charlie Hirsh, Accurate Box’s Chairman and former CEO, is featured in an article about the evolution of the folding carton industry. See below for an excerpt from “ICG Patriarchs Reflect On Industry Evolution” by Deborah Hamilton.

The patriarchs of the folding carton industry, from left, Bob Zumbiel of Zumbiel Packaging, Andy Willie of Curtis Packaging and Charlie Hirsh of Accurate Box.

Manasquan, NJ – January 28, 2019 – The Independent Carton Group (ICG), an association of 17 independently owned and operated folding carton manufacturers, is fortunate to count among its patriarchs four men who have given a lifetime of contributions to the industry. With careers originating in the 1950s and 1960s, and continued ties to the industry today, Andy Willie, Bob Zumbiel, Charlie Hirsh and Jay Dee have all witnessed decades of industry evolution. There are likely few individuals who have been around this industry longer.

“These men are giants among us. Each had a hand in shaping the industry and setting the stage for future generations of independents,” said Kim Pierce of the Independent Carton Group. “A glimpse of the industry through their eyes is as much inspiration as it is history lesson.”


 “Folding cartons have become easier to produce,” said Andy Willie, noting that the technology-driven presses on the market today are a far cry from the ones he climbed inside to repair in his early days at Curtis Packaging. Willie joined the Sandy Hook, Connecticut, manufacturer in 1959 and spent 32 years there, including 10 years as co-owner and general manager.

Despite the more technical, and seemingly more interesting, nature of the work, Bob Zumbiel said it’s hard to find good people. “It’s not enough to just find people. You have to find the ones who will stay,” said Zumbiel, whose career began in the maintenance department of his family’s folding carton business in 1955. Zumbiel only recently retired after over 60 years at Zumbiel Packaging, 40 of which he spent serving as president of the Hebron, Kentucky, converter.

Not only has printing technology advanced, but the techniques have also evolved over the last 60 years. “I don’t see offset going away anytime soon. It’s still the best for higher runs of 10,000 or more, but digital will continue to bleed into the overall volume of offset being produced,” said Willie. “Bob’s company [Zumbiel Packaging] was the first ICG member to offer digital.”

In 1950, when Charlie Hirsh began working with his father at Accurate Box, offset was just starting to replace letterpress. By the time his daughter took the reins in the 1990s, the future of litho-laminated corrugated boxes was being defined by the Paterson, New Jersey, company.

Click here to read the full article.