Case Studies

United Packaging Associates

“UPA is about helping YOU as packaging professionals realize YOUR potential through strategic connections and shared learning events that deliver value to a continuously evolving industry. The future of our industry depends on us collaborating, contributing, and learning together in new ways.” –Janice Loppe and Ismael Santiago, UPA

For years, this small band of intrepid packaging professionals imagined more for their industry. In 2016, they created a new strategic networking trade association that has the potential to be a national power player.

Packaging: A Pivotal Industry

The world of packaging is not standing still. It is rapidly evolving, revolutionized by the Internet of things, by the quest for sustainability, by increasing expectations of customers and consumers, and by changing materials, technologies, equipment and processes.

Faced with competing demands in their day-to-day work, diminishing budgets for training and continuing shifts in the workforce, it has become increasingly difficult for industry professionals to stay ahead of these emerging trends and exciting changes.

Ismael Santiago, UPA Chair, sets the context for the Evolve or Perish: Future of Packaging ThemeIsmael Santiago, UPA Chair
Sets the context for the Evolve or Perish: Future of Packaging Theme

The need for alternative solutions with accelerated learning, relationship building and strategic networking could not be more urgent.

But first, it was time to test the waters, to invite and engage broadly. Did the packaging community (individuals and companies) hold the same views? Perceive the same pressing needs?

Under the banner of “Evolve or Perish”, a growing team extended their invitation far and wide across Florida and beyond.

They would use a cutting edge strategic dialogue process for this daylong face-to-face meeting – Open Space Technology. There would be no agenda, no power points, no panel discussions or presentations by experts. Everyone would be actively involved, building the agenda together; documenting the highlights and ideas for action that would emerge from a host of concurrent discussions related to the Future of Packaging.

Focus on topics that matter to you…
Tap into each other’s interests and expertise; no titles, everyone is equal

More than 80 people responded to the call –individuals at different stages of their career from various packaging sectors and disciplines (industry, machinery, education, clients and others). Close to a dozen sponsor companies provided their support. A total of 40 topics were created of which 21 became the subject of deep dive discussion groups. Hundreds of photos and a Book of Proceedings documenting everything that happened was produced in real time, on site.

The success of Evolve or Perish exceeded all expectations. People were highly engaged; the topics discussed were substantive and forward thinking. There was powerful learning and connecting throughout.

The trailblazing team who had imagined a better future for packaging felt rewarded and emboldened to continue their quest. The idea for UPA was ready to be born.

A flurry of activity followed.  Strategic meetings and consultations were quickly scheduled to define mission, values and a step-by-step road map. A new name, logo and website was created for the new organization. The by-laws and formal incorporation as a 501c6 soon followed with budgets and banking also established. A membership drive and programs to attract sponsor companies was happening throughout. All of this was accomplished in less than 6 months. Everyone was a volunteer believing in the prospects for their industry.

By late January 2017, UPA had launched heralding a future of learning events, tours and activities that have been multiplying every week and month since. As more and more people, groups and sponsors join, the possibilities to expand nationally can’t seem to be too far ahead.

Methodologies and Tools used:

  • Strategic Leadership Meetings
  • Web Strategy and Messaging
  • Mentoring and Coaching
  • Open Space Technology
  • Lean Coffee
  • Buddy System


  • New Strategic Trade Association solidly established to expand and serve individuals within the $160 Billion US packaging industry
  • Strategic alliances with key partners such as the University of Florida, Packaging and Engineering; Polk State Corporate College; Florida Medical Device Manufacturers Consortium (FMMC)
  • Industry and non industry corporate sponsors highly involved and engaged
  • Broadly recognized brand in the Florida packaging industry
  • Disrupting traditional trade industry meeting format to create welcoming educational environment with fresh ideas and innovative thinking
  • Infrastructure for growth established in record time
  • Member program with major focus on industry professionals which also includes academic and student membership
  • Defined consultative process to identify hot topics for events and tours that are of primary interest to our members
  • Mailing list close to 400 in less than 6 months

A Story
Of Partnership

Our Case Studies are more about our clients than about us. If we have done our jobs well, the role we played in helping them institute organizational change or navigate complex business issues will be apparent in their pride and success.