Adam Peek is passionate about family. He’s also passionate about packaging. The
husband and father of five children has found a way to combine his passions into a fascinating and rewarding career as a self-proclaimed evangelist for the packaging industry. Over the 15 years that Peek has been in the packaging industry, his resume reads more like an adventure book: packaging company executive, ordained Baptist minister, podcast host, sustainability consultant, trainer, global speaker, soon-to-be-published children’s book author… and part-time rapper.
Peek graduated from Colorado State University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He then earned a Master of Business Administration with blockchain and supply chain concentrations from Quantic School of Business Technology. Peek is a licensed and ordained reverend through the Southern Baptist Convention.
Peek recently partnered with PostPress magazine to talk about his career, sustainability in the packaging industry and emerging trends.
How has your career developed in the packaging industry?
I started with Peek Packaging (our family business) and it was a great job, but then I moved back to Colorado Springs to start a church with some friends. I thought I was done in packaging and eventually would be a full-time pastor. While the church was taking longer to get off the ground, I got a job at WS Packaging Group in sales, and that was really where I figured out packaging was awesome! From there, I had a short season at Fortis during the COVID-19 pandemic before accepting my dream job at Meyers Printing, a Minnesota-based packaging, label and retail display company, where I’m currently the senior vice president of sales.
You describe yourself as an “evangelist for the packaging industry.” What is it about packaging that gets you fired up?
Evangelist means bringer of good news, so I really try to focus on finding good news to share about the industry. There’s always going to be negativity because ultimately we are creating trash, but there’s so much value and goodness that can be found in what problems packaging actually solves that I choose to get excited about those areas, for sure!
How has the packaging industry embraced global issues such as circular economy and sustainability?
I think out of necessity the industry has been forced to adjust to the demand for larger-scale sustainability, along with innovating to create unique advantages in the marketplace. We haven’t yet done a great job of telling the stories about what it is we actually are doing, and I hope I’ve helped make a small dent in sharing through my podcast, weekly news show on LinkedIn and children’s book, Packaging Peeks and the Sticky Situation, coming out in August 2023.
Embellishments, such as foils and specialty coatings, continue to be very popular with packaging (carton and label) applications. Why do you think this is the case? What advantages do you believe special embellishments bring to the table for the brand owners?
Brands have very little time to capture attention on the shelf. Not only are they competing with the other brands, but with cell phone use at such a high rate, they also are having to compete with the screen. Even DTC (direct-to-consumer) brands need to create unboxing experiences and attention-grabbing packaging in homes. So, embellishments continue to be used by these brands as a means to grab attention.
The advantage brand owners get is the ever-sought-after currency of attention and eyes on their product. Even though the cost of attention is much higher, the cost of lost sales and market share is catastrophic in many cases.
Meyers recently went through a brand refresh to reflect its leadership in the sustainable packaging industry. Explain what it means to you to work at a company that shares your passion for sustainability.
Along with the brand refresh, we also compiled a free 64-page e-book about sustainability in packaging. It has helped to define our “why” as a company and to work with people who have similar passions. I’m one of those people, so being tapped to be a co-author on the book really showed how much the company values me and how committed it is to the new company direction.
You’ve talked to a lot of people through your “People of Packaging” podcast. What’s the best advice you’ve received from a guest?
Honestly, it is really, really hard to nail down one thing as “best advice.” I will say one person who has stuck out is Darrell Jobe in what he’s built at Vericool. His
story – from being a gang member to the CEO of one of the more sustainable packaging manufacturers in the world – is remarkable! Editor’s note: Listen to Peek’s People of Packaging Podcast at www.peopleofpackaging.com.
What are the biggest challenges facing the packaging industry?
There are many challenges for sure, but one of the biggest is that we are not attracting young, innovative and diverse talent to our industry, which will stagnate our ability to make the changes necessary as the industry moves forward.
What are some of the emerging trends that you believe will influence the future of the packaging industry?
Extended producer responsibility (EPR) is going to come in really strong across the planet, so the industry, along with brands, will have to learn to navigate both consumer demand and political regulations, which will vary from country to country and state to state. There also will be a significant challenge in how we feed 10 billion people while doing minimal to no damage to our climate. Packaging will play a significant role there as well, I think.
What advice do you have for people entering the packaging industry?
Surround yourself with people who will foster a growth mindset in you. The industry is wonderful and full of many incredible people, and we get to solve big, incredible problems together. Find the people and career path where you experience joy and you’ll realize what I did – that packaging is awesome!