3 Takeaways from Pack Expo 2023

Posted on 
September 18, 2023
Matthew Wright
Founder & CEO, Specright
Learn how to manage your specifications today!

Every year I look forward to reconnecting with the entire packaging industry and supply chain professionals at Pack Expo. This year’s event in Las Vegas was no different. Thousands of people traveled to Las Vegas to learn, engage, and collaborate on all things packaging. 

My team was impressed by the amount of traffic to our Specright booth. It was great to see “old” faces as well as new. If you couldn’t attend in person, here are a few of my takeaways from the event.

1. Better Data Management is Top of Mind

I remember just a few years ago, attendees would see our booth and not know who Specright was or what we offered. This year, it was great to hear that people were seeking out our booth. People know they need to manage and activate their specification data in better ways. Beyond supply chain complexities, teams are being asked to collaborate and share data more regularly. Spreadsheets and pdfs won’t scale or allow your teams to move fast.

I was encouraged that the majority of questions weren’t “what is spec management?” or “why would I need this?” But, rather, “how can I move faster?” or “how can I share the value of your platform with more of my team?” People get it, but we need more industry leaders to understand that a strong data foundation is the key to your competitive advantage.

To me this shows the maturity of the industry, but also the continued need for education around Specification Management. In our recent, State of Specification Management Survey, 75% of respondents still said they need a better spec management solution. The need for change is evident, and the good news, there is a solution available today.

At our booth, my team was constantly showing live demos of our Specification Data Management platform, including our Like Item Finder and Spec Compare features, and our Sustainability Dashboards. Spec data is essential for things like sustainability reporting and compliance. With more and more regulations being implemented, your team needs to be able to not only be compliant, but be able to innovate in order to drive more sustainable practices. It was great to see Pack Expo continue the theme around sustainable packaging throughout this year’s event.

2. The Next Gen Workforce is Engaged and Craving Technology

On Day 2 of the event, I spoke on the Innovation Stage about how not only to engage the next generation workforce, but retain them. The gap in open positions to qualified employees is growing and the only ways companies can bridge the gap is through technology. But, a key point I made was not to just throw solutions at your employees, make sure they see value in it and are using it. I encourage companies to track adoption rates and usage. If your employees aren’t using software available to them, it’s not making their jobs easier. And, they probably won’t remain engaged. 

I also spoke about creating a culture of innovation and ideation. At Specright, our Emerging Leaders program, is allowing the next generation workforce to have a seat at the table. This group of young professionals not only collaborate with each other, they are exposed to senior leaders for increased learning and mentorship, and they work on invigorating projects outside of their daily responsibilities that are helping drive our company forward. I encourage you to reach out to my team if you're interested in learning more about how we’ve developed and are running this program.

It was also great to see so many current packaging students at the event. We had students from MSU, Virginia Tech, Cal Poly and others swing by our booth. It was great to hear them talk about how they are using Specright in their classrooms, and their goal to continue using it once they enter industry. This next generation doesn’t want to work in spreadsheets or cumbersome legacy systems all day. They want to focus on developing the next great product. That will bring so much added value to your organization. 

3. Collaboration is the Key to Success

Working in the packaging industry for 20+ years has shown me how “small” the industry truly is. It was great to see familiar faces that I worked with years ago, but also great to see Specright customers, who have now worked at two and three other companies. These “champions” as I call them, get it. They get that we need to fundamentally shift how we manage data and collaborate with internal teams and suppliers. They are great at bringing their teams and leadership teams along for the journey.

But, we know not every “champion” has an easy path to fundamental change. It’s hard. Sometimes getting started is the hardest step. That’s why, I was excited to launch Specright’s new video: Specright vs. Specwrong. This video showcases the true pain points companies are facing today. Whether it’s outdated systems, siloed teams, or lack of supplier collaboration. Chasing data every day doesn’t serve your team or your company well. We hope that this video not only resonates with you, but helps you showcase to your leaders why a purpose-built Specification Management solution is the key to bringing your company into the next phase of success. 

If we didn’t have a chance to connect at Pack Expo, you can also message me on LinkedIn. And, if you’d like to learn more about our solutions, reach out to my team.


Matthew Wright

Matthew Wright is the founder & CEO of Specright, the first cloud-based platform for Specification Management. Specright has been recognized by Fast Company’s prestigious Most Innovative Companies list, named a Gartner Cool Vendor, and as one of the Top Places to Work by the OC Register and Built in LA. Wright is also a published author and his book, “The Evolution of Products and Packaging,”was named to the Amazon Hot New Release List for Industrial Relations Business and has a five star rating. 

Prior to founding Specright, Wright spent more than 25 years in the packaging industry, holding leadership positions at International Paper, Temple Inland, and rightPAQ — a packaging company he co-founded. He has also been involved in leading multiple M&A deals in the packaging industry, currently sits on the MSU School of Packaging and Industry Advisory Board and previously served on the Packaging Advisory Board at Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo.

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