RIPA 76th Annual Conference & Suppliers Exposition

RIPA 76th Annual Conference & Suppliers Exposition

October 11 – 13, 2017

Orlando, FL

Over 160 people gathered in sunny Orlando, Florida October 10-13th to attend the Annual Conferences for both RIPA and IPANA. Members of both organizations shared in several of the sessions and social events. They also attended the ever-popular Suppliers Exposition which featured more than a dozen exhibit booths.

At the opening session, introductory remarks were made by the RIPA and IPANA Chairs, Mr. Dan Burek and Mr. Chris Lind.

Prior to the first invited speaker, IPANA’s Director Sue Nauman and ISDI Chair Kyl eStavig took a moment to offer special recognition of the late Mr. Robbie Evans and Mr. Ernest Beardsley. Family members for both gentlemen were present to deliver comments and accept their loved ones’ posthumous IPANA Lifetime Membership awards.

The main speakers program commenced featuring lively and informative talks from industry leaders such as Greif’s Senior VP Mr. Ole Rosgaard who offered a vision of the industry as of today and how it may develop in the future. Ole also touched on a number of leadership strategies and goals.

Mr. Timothy Gill, Chief Economist with the American Iron and Steel Institute, presented a sweeping view of the steel industry and its current economic trends. Mr. Gill noted that domestic steel shipments are up slightly thus far in 2017 after a drop in demand during 2015 and 2016. Additionally, he predicted industrial production overall to rebound from the 2015-2016 contraction, with steel imports also growing to meet those needs.

Nationally recognized commentator and author, Mr. Ron Fournier, made a lively presentation on the country’s current political and cultural climate. He made several interesting observations about the “Millennial” generation and how their expectations about political representation could shape the future course of politics in America.

Mr. Andrew Lenzen from the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force spoke about “cyber security”
and what businesses can do to protect their information from cyber-hackers.

The luncheon speaker was Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi from Florida Institute of Technology, Dr. Oluseyi’s talk was entitled “Understanding the Origins of the Universe. In Thirty Minutes.” The talk was fun and fascinating.

After the luncheon, IPANA’s conference officially ended, having commenced two days earlier. Meanwhile, RIPA began its Annual Business Meeting and its Product Group sessions which proceeded all afternoon and into the next day. These sessions were followed by the RIPA Board of Directors meeting on Friday afternoon.

Annual Business Meeting

RIPA Chair, Dan Burek, thanked the members for their support during the two years he served as association Chair.  He noted the group is in excellent financial condition and is well situated going forward.

The association approved two revisions to its bylaws: one, to reduce the maximum number of Board members from 21 to 18; and two, to eliminate the officer position of Secretary. Both of these revisions were described as “more reflective of existing conditions”.  The Board currently has 15 members and the duties of the Secretary are handled by the association’s President.

The Plenary Session continued the next morning with a talk covering a nuber of trucking and driver issues such as electronic logging devices (ELDs) for tracking hours f service. ELDs are becoming more common and will soon be required by FMCSA for most drivers – particularly “long haul” drivers.

Another Plenary Session topic was the recent request from DOT for comment on what regulations might warrant revisions or withdrawal. RIPA indicated it would submit comments on a range of issues (see related story page 7).  Finally, attendees were advised of
DOT’s intention to have all reconditioners and manufacturers be assigned an “M” number that would be on a 5-year renewal cycle. DOT indicated those wishing to continue to use their “R” number, or other registered symbol, could continue to do so. A formal regulatory proposal on the issues is expected soon.

Steel Drum Product Group

The Steel Drum Product Group discussed a range of issues including the ongoing project to certify annually certain remanufactured drums. Attendees were advised that the drums were successfully requalified by two independent labs.

Attendees also were advised that RIPA is part of an ANSI Committee working to update the “ANSI MH 2 Standard” which contains industry consensus on dimensions for most types of steel drums. The standard has not been reviewed since 2004. Finally, the group was advised that RIPA’s two Petitions for Rulemaking on ultrasonic leakproofness testing and the definition of an “adherent free” steel surface after reconditioning (and before painting) have been accepted by PHMSA and are expected to be published as rulemaking proposals in the near future.

IBC Product Group

Product Group Chair Brian Evoy provided an overview of annual requalification testing for several IBC design types. He reported that testing would be undertaken soon and that anyone interested in participating this year should sign up with the RIPA office.

Attendees were then advised of a recent meeting between RIPA and PHMSA at which the association discussed with PHMSA a long-standing petition for rulemaking intended to eliminate the need for truck placards and shipping papers for emptied IBCs. IBCs should be allowed to move to reconditioners in much the same manner as drums.  Attendees were advised that key PHMSA personnel appear to be receptive to the industry’s arguments and asked for further clarification of some key issues.

The Product Group also discussed ways to improve the manner in which some emptied IBCs are prepared for recycling. The group agreed to draft new operational guidelines for this particular practice.

Product Group Plenary Session

Mr. John Heneghan, Senior Director at PHMSA for Field Operations (i.e., enforcement),  spent a generous amount of time with RIPA members in an informal setting.  Heneghan touched on a wide array of issues raised by attendees including issues ranging  from training requirements to the amount of customer information plant owners are required to give inspectors.

The session was followed by a presentation entitled, “Driverless Trucks – A Look at the Future” which was made by Mr. Michael Cammisa, VP for Safety Policy and Technology,
American Trucking Associations (ATA).

After a break to visit the Suppliers Exposition in the adjacent ballroom, Mr. Jerry Geyer from Greif and the Plastic Drum Institute (PDI) provided a comprehensive look at the plastic drum business – both manufacturing and reconditioning. To round out the day, a presentation on certain scrap industry issues was made by Mr. Mark Reiter, VP for Government Affairs with the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI).   Mr. Reiter spoke in detail about possible bans on imported scrap that may soon be issued by the government in China and what such a move could mean for business in China as well as in the U.S.


Michael Porreca, COO, National Container Group, was honored by his industry peers with the 2017 Morris Hershson Award of Merit. The award was given to Porreca during the RIPA Annual Conference at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Orlando, FL, on October 12, 2017. RIPA presents the prestigious award to an individual for “distinguished and longstanding service” to the reusable industrial packaging industry.

The Morris Hershson Award of Merit commemorates Mr. Hershson who was President of RIPA (then called the National Barrel and Drum Association) for 35 years until his death
in 1985. Mr. Hershson is credited with developing the association into a leading advocate
for the reconditioning industry in North America and around the world.

Mr. Porreca has worked in the industrial container reconditioning industry for nearly 35
years, beginning with Acme Barrel Company and, more recently, with National Container
Group. Porreca has served several terms on the RIPA Board of Directors and has lead or
been a member of numerous association committees over the years.

The presentation ceremony was poignant and, at times, very funny. Mauser CEO Peter Schaefer recalled his early travels with Mike and how, in a matter of hours, Mike could dissect operational issues and then team up with plant managers to fix the problems. Somehow, at the end of the day, everybody was smiling and ready for dinner! Schaefer concluded his remarks by stating what we all know to be true: “Mike is a great and likeable person, filled with knowledge and someone who has the respect of his peers all over the world.”

Elliot Pearlman, who has worked with Mike for three decades, gently ribbed him for having “a case of the mumbles.” People sometimes wonder, “what did he just say?” said Pearlman Pearlman recognized Mike as “an operational genius” who contributed significantly to the betterment of the firms he worked for, as well as the association throughout his professional career.

Porreca accepted the award with humility and deep gratitude. He thanked the people who give him an opportunity to be a part of an industry he loves, and the association for enabling
him to serve many years as a member of the Board of Directors. And he thanked his
wife, Kay Robinson and his two children, Emily and Mike, Jr., for their support and love
over the years.

“All RIPA members recognize and appreciate the many contributions made to our industry
by Mike Porreca,” said RIPA Chairman Dan Burek. “Mike has been a major contributor
to the association through his Board service and work on various committees. But, perhaps
more importantly,” noted Burek “Mike he has always been willing to share his technical
knowledge with industry colleagues in North America and around the world.”



November 2017 Reusable Industrial Packaging Association




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