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PMMI inducts six members into Packaging Hall of Fame

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Simone Hellyer

By Simone Hellyer

Last updated on 08-Sep-2014 at 11:54 GMT

The president of The Packaging Association, a scientist who pioneered the PP/EVOH container and the inventor of the Cheer Pack stand-up pouch are just some of the latest recruits inducted into the Packaging Hall of Fame.

The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies (PMMI) was founded in 1933 and is a trade association made up of more than 650 packaging and processing member companies.

The Packaging Hall of Fame, organised by PMMI, celebrates the achievements of key figures in the packaging industry.

Packaging Hall of Fame inductees are nominated by packaging professionals from all segments of the industry.

Bern McPheely, former president, Hartness International, is one of 2014’s inductees. He told FoodProductionDaily he had no idea he had been nominated.

It was a big surprise and I felt really honoured to be part of it, it’s a fabulous organisation. I was in the office when they called to tell me I had not only been nominated but I had been inducted and I just said ‘wow’,” said McPheely.

He was nominated into The Hall of Fame by one of his colleagues, Scott Smith, executive director marketing, Hartness, who managed to keep it a secret from him.

The final selection is made by a commission of packaging professionals including packagers, machinery builders, consultants, leaders of packaging associations such as The Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP) and PMMI, members of the packaging press as well as educators.

Maria Ferrante, VP education and workforce development, PMMI, said the commission chooses members based on three main criteria: how those nominated personally advanced the science, technology and practice of packaging; how they have expanded packaging knowledge and understanding; and their volunteer leadership in the packaging community.

This year’s selection process was extremely difficult as we received many worthy nominations,” she said.

The Packaging Hall of Fame is among the highest honours a packaging professional can achieve. This year’s six inductees are visionaries, who all played a part in transforming the packaging industry.”

McPheely, 62, lives in South Carolina, and has worked at Hartness International for nearly 38 years. He stepped down as president in 2012 but has stayed on in a consulting role. One of his other current roles is chairman of SCIO Diamond Technology which makes lab grown diamonds.

His first job after college was at the US Department of Commerce but the packaging industry has defined his career.

I have always had an international perspective. I went to grad school to study international management at The Thunderbird School. I met the Hartness family shortly after and joined them in 1977. There were nine staff at the time and I helped grow the company, now they have over 500 staff,” he added.

McPheely negotiated and executed the sale of Hartness to ITW (Illinois Tool Works) in 2009 and was responsible for the transition from a family owned business to a public company.

Since purchasing the Pepsi bottling rights in California in 1940, Hartness has evolved as a packaging company with over 100 patents and installations. It has been profitable every quarter since 1982.

A career highlight for the businessman was when he was asked to brief President Clinton and cabinet members on the state of US business.

I was asked to represent small businesses, I got to meet President Clinton, VP Al Gore and most of the cabinet and I went with a committee to Russia, flying in Air Force 2, which was kind of fun,” he said.

Speaking about a career in packaging, McPheely said there are so many challenges because it touches so many products from a $200 bottle of scotch to a bottle of water for 50cents.

 “But the diverse challenges make it fun, new and different every day. I’m a big believer in innovation as a way of staying ahead; packaging requires innovation so it doesn’t become a commodity,” he added.

The Packaging Hall of Fame is staged every two years and has been running since 1971.

A reception and induction ceremony will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Chicago on Tuesday November 4 during PACK EXPO International.

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