On Tuesday, Nov. 4, beginning at 5:15 p.m., the packaging and processing industry will honor Mel Bahr; Jim Downham; Joseph Hotchkiss, Ph.D.; Toru Ichikawa; Bern McPheely and Boh Tsai, Ph.D. at a reception and induction ceremony held in conjunction with PACK EXPO International and Pharma EXPO 2014 (McCormick Place, Chicago) at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place.

Averaging over 40 years in the industry, the six inductees to the Packaging Hall of Fame Class of 2014, have impacted packaging and processing in a wide range of arenas—packaging formats and materials, machinery standards, education, food safety and industry relations.

“This group of inductees has demonstrated extreme dedication to the packaging industry and has had a lasting impact on manufacturing,” says Maria Ferrante, vice president, Education & Workforce Development, PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies. “I encourage all PACK EXPO International and Pharma EXPO attendees and exhibitors to take part.”

Packaging Hall of Fame, Class of 2014

Mel Bahr, MGS Machine Corporation

Mel Bahr, a 50-year packaging machinery veteran, has worked tirelessly to advance the packaging machinery industry. An active PMMI member, Bahr chaired the Board of Directors in 2002, and his vision was instrumental in moving the PMMI B155.1 safety standard to incorporate the risk assessment process. In doing so, he helped to align U.S. standards with the health and safety requirements of the European machinery directive. He represents PMMI on the Technical Advisory Committee for Pharmaceutical Packaging and the ANSI Safety Committee.

He has also been an active member of the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE), a member of the Packaging Community of Practice Steering Committee since 2002, contributing several chapters to ISPE’s Packaging, Warehousing and Labeling Guide (PACLW). He has also served as a core team member with the pharmaceutical-focused Joint Equipment Transition Team (JETT) since 2003 assisting in developing industry standards for specifying equipment (URS) and Risk Base Assessments for the Pharma industry.

Bahr has been involved in producing more than 25,000 pieces of packaging machinery, many of which were complete end-of-line systems, and he’s named in at least 15 patents at Thiele Engineering, Delkor IndustriesDelkor Industries and MGS Machine Corporation, and in end users’ packaging designs.

He founded MGS Machine Corporation in 1979. When he was at the helm, Bahr contributed to technological innovations and demonstrated leadership in critical issues involving machinery and worker safety. The company has passed to his two sons and a son-in-law, and he retired in 2011.

Bahr continues to mentor students and young workers, and furthers the growth of the industry through his work with PMMI.


Jim Downham, PAC, Packaging Consortium

When Jim Downham stepped up as CEO of PAC, Packaging Consortium (formerly the Packaging Association of Canada) in 2006, the not-for-profit organization was on the edge of bankruptcy and irrelevance. With skills honed from 38 years of manufacturing experience, Downham took PAC into a new era.

His packaging career began in 1968, when a summer replacement position at Continental Can Company led him to a management development program. He followed the sales and marketing career path and progressed through the ranks of Packaging Systems Management, Sales & Marketing and General Management. This led to vice presidential roles of business units and ultimately to divisional president and CEO. In 2000, Downham founded LeaderLinx, an executive recruitment firm for the packaging and graphic arts industries.

When he entered the CEO’s office at PAC, Downham led the association back to solvency and introduced a new strategic direction. This fiscally strong organization is creating initiatives around training, food safety and sustainability, and Downham has led the organization into partnerships with global retail and packaged goods leaders including Walmart, Costco, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Nestlé and Molson-Coors, and industry leaders such as PMMI, Ameripen, the Consumer Goods Forum, Sustainable Packaging Coalition and Europen.

Under his leadership, PAC, Packaging Consortium, has:

  • Launched PAC NEXT (2011), recruiting 31 of the largest North American retailers and brand owners to this initiative to eliminate packaging waste
  • Developed PACsecure, the only HACCP-based packaging-for-food-safety-standard specifically for packaging converters, forming a joint venture with IFS Global Standards to take the renamed standard (IFS PACsecure) global with Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) recognition
  • Created and launched PAC FOOD WASTE (April 2014). The program, which seeks a solution for global food waste, has attracted 31 PAC member companies


Joseph Hotchkiss, Ph.D.; Michigan State University

A respected teacher and researcher, Joseph Hotchkiss, Ph.D., is leading the charge into the future of packaging and food safety.

In addition to the patents he’s named on and the technical advancements he has developed, Hotchkiss has written or coauthored more than 350 peer-reviewed journal articles on packaging materials and structures as they relate to food safety. Food Science, the textbook he wrote with Norman Potter, is considered a classic and is widely used on college campuses around the world. He is known for his work on extended shelf life (ESL), modified atmosphere packaging.

In 2009, Hotchkiss stepped away from a 27-year tenure as a food science and technology professor, then department chair, at Cornell University to reinvigorate the Michigan State University (MSU) packaging education program. During his five years there, Hotchkiss has been credited with restoring MSU’s standing as the leading packaging education program in the world. To achieve that goal, he has brought in a mix of enthusiastic young scholars and experienced industry professionals into the ranks as teachers and research managers, and significantly raised the program’s academic standards. Enrollment in the undergraduate and graduate packaging programs has jumped as a result.

Today’s graduate program addresses food safety, sustainability, environmental problems, active packaging (including RFID), second- and third-world issues of food waste, applying nanotechnology to package materials for better physical and barrier properties of plastic, and emerging technologies including applying electronics to packaging to enhance functionality. Because of his leadership, MSU is a pioneer in distance/online learning education for packaging and processing.

Hotchkiss is also heading up MSU’s Center for Packaging Innovation and Sustainability, which is leading the way to strengthening understanding of the role packaging plays in sustaining the world food supply, and he serves on the Research and Advisory Board of the Culinary Institute of America.

His impressive list of national and international groups and committees includes Food Chemicals Codex, World Health Organization /Food and Agriculture Organization Advisory Council, National Academy of Sciences, the Ameripen Sustainability Technical Advisory Group. This is in addition to being a Fellow of the Institute of Food Technologists and having served as an officer in IFT’s Food Packaging Division.

Hotchkiss has numerous, significant accomplishments to his credit and continues to teach and manage research as he leads the MSU packaging program.


Toru Ichikawa, Hosokawa Yoko

Toru Ichikawa, managing director of Hosokawa Yoko, a private flexible packaging convertor, invented the Cheer Pack, which introduced a new packaging format category, the spout pouch.

Ichikawa has been with the company since 1972, and consistently finds new functions for flexible packaging innovation. The Cheer Pack, invented in 1982, was first adopted by PepsiCo Japan, and is now used in Asia, Europe, North America and South America. The spout pouch format is used for packaging baby food, beverages, condiments, detergents, nutrition products, snacks and ice cream. It received DuPont’s Diamond Award for Packaging Innovation in 1995.

Ichikawa focused on flexible packaging technology from the time he joined Hosokawa Yoko, and he received his second DuPont Award for his Soft Cartridge in 2001. He went on to create the sleeve-in-pouch (SIP), RE-Pouch, corner ZIP and soft-bottle packaging formats.

As managing director at Hosokawa Yoko, Ichikawa directs its Chinese-based converting effort. He will be remembered for his role in advancing the technologies and practices of packaging for the next generation—contributions that include the invention of a new style of aseptic system for spout pouch and a soft container with perfect barrier.

Ichikawa has led open collaboration and innovation efforts impacting the global supply chain for FC-Cut (Easy Tear Technology) in eight countries. He collaborated with the European Cheer Pack licensee, Guala Pack, to expand global business and license Cheer Pack to converters Asia, Oceania, North America and South America.

Today, Toru Ichikawa directs Hosokawa Yoko’s marketing and development, and continues to develop new packaging.


Bern McPheely

From 1975 to 1977, Bern McPheely worked for the U.S. Department of Commerce as a Trade Specialist, advising South Carolina companies about exporting. He joined Hartness International in 1977, tasked with building its international sales department. His success with Hartness’s international expansion earned the company a Presidential Export Award, presented by then-Vice President Dan Quayle.

McPheely was noticed by subsequent administrations as well, representing Hartness and small businesses on a Presidential Trade Mission to Russia, led by then Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown, and briefing President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and the President’s Cabinet on the state of small business. In 2004, Start magazine cited McPheely among the “Top 10 CEO Visionaries Who Ignite Technology.”

In 1983, McPheely took over general management and executive responsibilities at Hartness. While at the helm, McPheely expanded the company’s sales to more than 120 countries, grew its staff from nine people to over 500 and was part of the team that developed Dynac, Hartness’s best-selling product. In 2009, he led the firm through its acquisition by ITW.

McPheely has given back to the industry and his community throughout his career. He has been active in PMMI, serving on its board of directors from 1990 to 2008, including as chairman in 2000 and 2001. He’s a past member of the Clemson University Packaging School Advisory Board and a past member of the Furman University Advisory Board.


Boh Tsai, Ph.D.; Amerasia Technologies

For 36 years, Bob C. Tsai, Ph.D., has been a pioneer in barrier plastic packaging and has made major contributions to the field of shelf stable foods.

Tsai’s team at American Can commercialized the OMNI® container, the first retortable plastic food container, which received DuPont’s first-ever Award for Packaging Innovation in 1987. In the 1990s, at Amoco Chemicals, Tsai led the development of Amosorb oxygen-scavengers technology—technology that earned him a second DuPont Award in 1996. A year later, he was given the Isker Award for an innovative packaging system he created for the U.S. military.

As a consultant to Mullinix Packages, Tsai, the founder and managing director of Amerasia Technologies, directed the development and commercialization of the OxyRx™ oxygen-scavenging PET container, which can maintain zero oxygen permeation for more than four years. The container is fully recyclable in the PET chain, and has been described as a breakthrough in barrier packaging.

Tsai has received 19 U.S. patents for barrier properties of EVOH copolymers, oxygen scavengers for active barrier packaging, package design and polyester foam. Among the patents are nearly 450 worldwide citations. Today, he’s the managing director of Amerasia Technologies and sits on the editorial board of Plastics in Packaging magazine.

Sponsorships ($1,500–$3,000) and tickets ($75 each) for the Nov. 4 reception and induction ceremony are available on PMMI.org; proceeds benefit PMMI Foundation, supporting packaging and processing education.