A note from Executive Director Chris Kerscher: A More Strategic and Inclusive AIMCAL


When I became AIMCAL Executive Director three years ago, I was honored that the AIMCAL community welcomed me so openly. Coming off of Craig Sheppard’s seasoned and accomplished leadership, I knew the standards were set high. Still, there was much to be done to help move AIMCAL from a position of historic strength to one that was able to pivot and respond to our evolving industry.

During my time as Executive Director, the team and I identified some areas that required attention. Our team was stretched thin, and—similar to the organization as a whole—struggling to keep up with managing all that AIMCAL has to offer. What was AIMCAL’s priority? What did our members find most advantageous, and what could they do without? As an organization, what offerings made AIMCAL what it was? And on that note, how do we define ourselves as an organization?

These are all big questions, and I’ve spent the better part of the last three years assessing the situation and writing a strategic plan that will position AIMCAL as the “top-of-mind” resource for all members of the roll-to-roll converting industry. Most imperative in this plan is to continue to grow our organization, which can be done only by communicating clearly articulated value propositions around proprietary products and services, many of which are still to be developed. These are products and services such as increased and better streamlined education and training courses, events and conferences planned around a specific industry, and more international networking opportunities—all services aimed at assisting our members in their own organizational growth.

Internally, the AIMCAL team has already taken strides to become more focused and strategic. The hiring of Lauren Suber to not only manage events, but strategize on the efficacy of these events and rethink what we offer, has already proven to be constructive. In addition, we just hired Alex Nevels as our Director of Education, and he is charged with pioneering the rethinking and reworking of our educational and training programs. Alex comes from years of experience as a business consultant at ThinkUp Consulting, and he has already hit the ground running. These new team members, coupled with a more focused attention to our data collection, committee development, and Converting Quarterly, has already proven fruitful in elevating and growing our services.

Still, these services are only the foundation. We must be able to easily communicate these services to recruit new members and build our community. For this reason, we’ve had many discussions with the Board of Directors regarding AIMCAL’s name and brand. When introducing AIMCAL to potential members, we often find ourselves in the position of explaining the full name behind the AIMCAL acronym. As if that isn’t difficult enough, we then have to further explain that the association actually includes more members than just those in the metallizing, coating, and laminating industries. So really, in over 50 years, we have grown to include more industry segments than the acronym was showing. This discussion is a serious boundary when introducing  the membership to a potential new member, as it begins the entire conversation with an attempt to explain rather than discussing  why the person or company would benefit from becoming a member.

For the sake of clarity, as well as to signify this more focused, intentional direction that AIMCAL is taking, the AIMCAL team and Board of Directors have decided to rename and rebrand the organization. To be sure, the decision to change the AIMCAL name is one that comes with much thought and consideration for the history and reputation that the organization has built. In actuality, it is precisely because of this successful history that we recommend changing the name.

AIMCAL is well known for being a leader in creating connections and encouraging growth within the roll-to-roll converting industry. In fact, the organization is so strong that its membership has expanded to include companies outside of specifically the metallizing, coating, and laminating industries—which is the very origin of the name.

To grow our network of members, we must recruit more converters outside of metallizing, coating, and laminating, and we must recruit a more diverse group of individuals(from an industry, ethnic, and age standpoint). As it currently stands, the AIMCAL name is actually exclusionary of all industries in the roll-to-roll community. Therefore, we believe that changing the name will open up opportunities to be more inclusive of our membership and, in turn, allow us to more easily recruit new members.

Along with the name change comes a rebranding that will honor our history and heritage while adding design elements to better represent what AIMCAL is all about: educating our members, connecting them with each other, and helping them to grow their businesses.

We look forward to sharing these updates with you and are excited about next steps. We will reveal the new name and brand at the Monday reception of the R2R USA Conference in Orlando on September 26. There, we will share with you the thought process behind the branding and what’s next for AIMCAL. If you haven’t registered yet, be sure to sign up! We hope you’ll be a part of this next exciting step for our organization.

As always, thank you for your continued support as we work to improve our organization, all with the aim of providing you with better services so that our industry continues to grow and thrive. All of us, from the AIMCAL team to the Board of Directors, are energized by this next step, and we look forward to you joining us on this journey.