As businesses nationwide respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Graphic Packaging International (GPI) —an Atlanta-based manufacturer of paperboard and paper-based packaging with more than 80 facilities and more than 19,000 employees worldwide—is demonstrating how the work that manufacturers do is indispensable, not only to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic, but also to ensure that families have the essential supplies they need for daily life.
GPI’s products include packaging for N95 respirator masks that protect medical personnel, as well as filter frames for residential and industrial air conditioning, heating and air handling systems, all of which are crucial for frontline efforts against the virus. They also supply packaging for cleaning products and tissue, which are in increasingly high demand during this global health crisis.
Its substantial share of the North American food, beverage and foodservice paperboard packaging market makes Graphic Packaging critical to feeding, hydrating and protecting the population of the United States.
“Before the pandemic, I probably took for granted our role and importance in the essential products value chain,” said Andrew Johnson, GPI’s vice president of government affairs and sustainability. “The pandemic has amplified the importance of Graphic Packaging, as we are vital to ensuring food and other critical products reach consumers across the nation.”
Johnson has three pieces of advice for other manufacturers seeking to perform their critical roles during this uncertain time. First, it is important to keep employees safe and healthy and to provide them with the most current information on how to stay safe on the job and at home. Second, as the ongoing epidemic strains supplies of vital products, manufacturers should look for ways to adjust their existing infrastructure in order to make high-demand products. Third, he says, manufacturers should stay engaged with industry associations in order to provide immediate feedback and help government representatives develop effective policies in real-time.
“The importance of manufacturing has never been clearer,” said Johnson. “Whether the manufacturer is a part of the food value chain or personal protective equipment value chain, they make essential products for our nation.”
Johnson is also confident that his company and others will ensure industries and families have the support they need. “I believe in the innovative spirit of the manufacturing sector,” said Johnson. “When presented with a challenge, we will always step up.”
“Especially in challenging times, the world looks to manufacturers to deliver the products that sustain our industries and our people,” said National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons. “Manufacturers are the engine of this country, and we intend to keep America moving forward.”