Derek’s outBOX-Important-January 21, 2021


  1. First some good news! We had an exciting day yesterday.   We ran our first 4 color order on the new JS Flexo and it came out fantastic.   Check out the great registration!   Also, yesterday was the largest single shipping day in company history.   I never imagined we would have the biggest sales day ever in a January, historically one of the slowest months of the year.   Great job everyone!!


  1. Now, the not so good news. After making it through 2020 without a case of COVID, a terrific accomplishment, and making it to January 19 (the one-year anniversary of the first case in the U.S.), we are feeling COVID crowding in on us.  We have had a couple of situations with direct exposure so, as we did last Spring, we all need to be very vigilant about our COVID protocols.   We obviously need everyone coming to work with so much business to run, but our top priority is keeping everyone healthy.   So, as a reminder, PLEASE follow the guidelines we have created to prevent an outbreak: 


  • If you are showing ANY symptoms of COVID (fever, sore throat, cough, loss of taste or smell) or have been exposed to someone with COVID, stay home! We will discuss with you the next steps as each case is a little different. 
  • Wear your masks at all times. N95 masks are the best and we have them available for anyone who wants one. 
  • Try to maintain a 6’ distance as much as humanly possible. In most cases you do not need to talk to someone within 6’ and if you must hand someone something please put it down, walk away and then let the other person come get it. 
  • Avoid congregating in close proximity of co-workers. We are closing the lunchrooms until further notice, so please eat at your machine or in your car alone.  If you must microwave something or get something in the refrigerator, please only one person at a time in the lunchroom. 
  • Turn the lights off when leaving the bathrooms so we only have one person in that small space at a time.
  • Wipe down multiple use areas, buttons, knobs, phones, etc. as much as possible.
  • Wash your hands
  • Avoid being in a vehicle with any co-workers unless you need to do so to get to work. If so, please crack the windows to allow fresh air in.


Please be patient with us as we continue to navigate through unchartered waters.   Due to HPPA privacy laws we cannot share details of potential cases with everyone, and every case is very fluid.  We care deeply about your safety and appreciate your concerns.   As soon as we have specific info to share, we will do so with anyone who may have been impacted.  




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Derek’s OutBOX-January 18, 2021 (MLK Day)

  1. Congratulations to this weekend’s VPC Football Winners-Last week all of the Volks (Derek, Judd, Ethan and Brian Volk) were eliminated. This weekend all the remaining VPC associates were eliminated.   The four remaining players advance to the Divisional Championships.
  2. We had several terrific 6-Word Challenge submissions.  


Honorable Mentions:

“Volk Packaging kicked COVID’s ass, 90-0!”

“Repurposed the closet to hoard sanitizer.”

“Last year was ruled by fear.”

“VPC, our best worst year ever.”

“Under that face mask, keep smiling.”

“Wow! A complete f’ing s**t show!”

“Millions infected, waiting turn for injection.”

“New best friends, Charmin and Scott.”


The Runner-up is Tori Beal with “One undercooked bat changed the world.”

The Winner is Phil DeWolfe who submitted, “Stick this year up your rear.”

3. This Friday is National Polka Dot Day so whoever has the best polka dotted clothes on Friday wins a $25 gas card.

4. Lastly, if 2020 taught us anything, it is that Martin Luther King, Jr.’s goals for our country are still relevant. I will leave you with this powerful quote:

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Derek’s outBOX-January 14, 2021

  1. I have some exciting sales news.  Chuck is close to getting our first order from xxx (knock on wood)!  If you have been watching the news you have seen that they have received xx, and those are the products we have been repackaging, so you can imagine how many boxes they will need.  It has been torture seeing all those boxers with someone else’s cert stamp! We do not know how much of the business we will get but if it is like most companies, once we get in with an order it is not long before they want to give us a lot more business. 


  1. We have an update on the Sales Horse Race that many of you have wagers on.

              Brian is in the lead with 9 followed closely by Russ and Steve with 7.

  1. Someone gave me a fun calendar that has a holiday for every day of the year. Friday is National Hat Day so wear your favorite hat to work on Friday.

  1. In 2018 I took a one-year class, once a month, called Crestcom Bullet Proof Management. I was so impressed with the program, I signed Atoka, Gary and Kelli up in 2019, Dan and Lori Lareau in 2020 and now Cody Sevigny (2nd shift supervisor) and Travis Trembly (VolkPack Fulfillment Center Manager) are starting the Crestcom program for 2021.  Everyone has tremendously benefitted from the lessons.  For those who have not heard, Volk Packaging was nominated by the local instructors for a big award and we found out this week that we are a finalist for their 2020 Global Leadership Award.  This is an international award. Crestcom is taught in 60 countries around the world, so getting named as one of the top 3 finalists worldwide is a big deal.  The winner will be announced in February.


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Derek’s outBOX-January 11, 2021

  1. First, Happy New Year.  I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season.    As you may know, I took some time away and it was good to have some time to get refreshed.  I am now rested and even more fired up to make 2021 the best year we have ever had!   It is amazing to know I have your support in that effort.


  1. With the new year and a lot of new associates, I will be starting up some Breaking Breads again. For those who are new, Breaking Bread is what we call a meal with an associate and me.   They are one-on-one, you choose the meal and location, and it is a confidential discussion just between us.  Kara will be in touch with a few questions to guide our meal.   If you have been here longer than the last year but did not share a Breaking Bread with me in 2019, please let Kara know. 


  1. The new flexo has made a lot of progress, especially with the external equipment, since I went on vacation. The team is here now and will be here until everything is working optimally.   The next big step will be in March or April when the new high speed (up to 330 per minute) Servo-driven feed section is installed. 


  1. I want to wish a special congratulations to some sales reps who set records in 2020. In his first year, Josh Samuelson was able to increase his territory by almost $70,000, setting his personal best of $885,070.   Congratulations to Steve Kearney who crushed his previous one-year sales record.  He sold $2,664,248, which is almost $500,000 ahead of his previous record.   Michael Forbes finished 2020 just $61,000 shy of Russell Schmelzer’s all-time best year ever!  With the new flexo bringing in a lot of egg boxes and Concept 2 continuing to grow, I expect to see a battle ahead with both Russ and Mike Forbes breaking the single year record in 2021.  It will be like Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire both breaking Roger Maris record the same year (*except Russ and Forbes will do it without steroids!). 
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Derek’s outBOX -December 22, 2020

1. Today we are announcing our new PTO policy.  As many of you are aware the State of Maine passed the Earned Paid Leave Law that requires us to update our PTO policy.  Although our current policy meets some of the legal requirements for 2021, there were a few parts of our policy that did not.  Therefore, we had to adjust our policy to be compliant with the State of Maine law. This new policy will be effective on January 1, 2021.  Please review the policy and submit any questions you might have to Atoka or Tori Beal.  We will organize the questions and provide a Q & A Sheet to everyone as soon as possible.  In order to provide a quick turnaround to your questions prior to the new year, please submit any questions by December 29. 

2. We will be bringing a photographer in tomorrow to take photos for our website which will be rolled out at some point after the new year.  Mainly we are looking for “action shots,” but I wanted you to know why someone would be taking pictures tomorrow.  If anyone would not like their photo taken, please let Amy know at 

3. Yesterday was the largest single sales day in company history!  This would not be possible without the hard work and incredible effort of every single person in the building, and the sales department.  I am pretty sure our banker thought I was nuts when I told him at the end of August, when were down $1.2 million dollars, that I had confidence we would finish the year ahead of 2019.   He said, “You only have 4 months to go.  If you can pull that off it would be a remarkable accomplishment!”    We will end 2020 well ahead of 2019, so feel free to dig out those 11/12 tee-shirts that made me sick to my stomach back in May. 😊   What you all have done is nothing short of remarkable!  And yes, I am confident we will finish 2021 ahead of 2020. 


Corona humor never gets old. Haha.

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Derek’s outBOX-December 16, 2020

  1.  want to remind everyone that the Christmas Party is Friday at 11:00am. It won’t be the same as usual because of COVID but we are going to try to make it as fun and festive as possible.   


  1. Check out this pie chart from the Wall Street Journal. According to this, after the health care workers and people in long term care facilities are vaccinated, we are next in line!  Essential workers, which include everyone that works at Volk Packaging, are second in the order of priority when it comes to the COVID vaccine.  I have read a lot about it and I feel very confident to take it and I encourage everyone else to get the vaccine as well.  I cannot require you to get the COVID vaccine.  However, I can, and will, require you to wear a mask at work, indefinitely, if you do not get vaccinated. 


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Derek’s outbox-December 11, 2020

1. The photo below is Newcorr after their big expansion. The addition was just under 40,000 SF. In total the building is now just over 185,000 SF. This will allow them to store around 3,400 full rolls in total. This is an increase of about 1,500 rolls of paper. Hopefully COVID will be behind us soon so we can begin planning another field trip to Newcorr for everyone who was not working here when we went in 2019 or missed the trip. It is an impressive operation that will give you a better understanding of how corrugated is made.

The lightest part of the roof is the expansion

2. The Christmas party will be next Friday at 11:00am. Because of COVID it will be different, but we are hoping we can make it as festive and fun as possible. We will start by serving lunch to everyone which you will take back to your workstation or find an open spot to hang out as long as you are not in a large group. Once everyone has their lunch there will be some announcements, followed by the drawing of names. When your name is drawn you will come to the table we will have set up (location to be determined) in order to pick a goodie bag. Goodie bags will contain a collection of small gifts, as well as an envelope with a cash prize ($5 to $500!) or even a day off with pay. We hope everyone sticks around for the party because you cannot win if you are not here.

3. We are seeking nominations for Klutz of the Quarter. If you know someone on the Volk team who has done something clumsy, send me the info and a name so we can pick a winner.


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Derek’s outBOX – December 4, 2020

  1. This is an email I received from the buyer at XXX:


”We have never had a corrugated vendor rate as high as Volk Packaging has. To think that the unprecedented numbers you have achieved in quality, delivery, responsiveness, and overall performance have been set in your first year as a supplier is unheralded. We are very pleased with the transition to Volk Packaging & look to grow our relationship in the coming year.”

  1. The status of the VPC Sales Derby is not much different than before. Shane is in the lead with 4 followed by 2 for Steve and Chuck and 1 for Forbes and Toby.  Since the flexo is still not running 100% and the price increase along with helping in the plant has consumed the sales reps’ time, I am extending the contest to the end of Q1.    You can still make a wager.  Remember, it costs you nothing to place a bet with $100 Derek Dollars and you can win a bunch of free Volk swag.  Amy will be around with wager sheets.   I hope we get some more bets in. 


  1. The winners of No Shave November are:

Longest Beard: Chad Ingalls

Bushiest Beard:  Chad Ingalls

Best Effort:  Dan Brochu

Best New Beard: Derek Volk

Whitest Beard: David Robinson

Best Overall Beard (a.k.a. Best in Show):  Shawn Scammon


And the $25 gift card raffle went to Will Chase

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Derek’s outBOX-December 3, 2020 – Company Meeting


  1. I know I have said it before, but I’ll say it again and again, thank you all for your continued hard work and dedication during this CRAZY year!   It is greatly appreciated.


  1. Thank you for wearing your masks. We will keep the mandatory mask policy in place until at least November 14 so we can make sure no one spreads anything picked up over Thanksgiving.   We will do the same thing after Christmas.  We have made it all year without a single COVID case so it would stink to get one in December.   If you get COVID on December 27, please don’t tell me until January 1 so we can have a COVID free year.  😉 (This means I am joking)


  1. I want to let everyone know that Doug Hellstrom has decided to retire in 2022. He has a condo in Hawaii that is unrentable due to COVID restrictions for people visiting Hawaii so he will be moving there in February 2021.   Until his retirement he will work from home.   I love having Doug here and will miss knowing he is on the other side my office wall, as he has been for 26 years.  However, he worked from home from February to June because of COVID concerns (he is “chronologically gifted” and has asthma so he had to be extra cautious) and it went fine.   His job is one of the few here at Volk Packaging that can be done remotely if absolutely necessary.  


  1. Lastly, the PTO policy is changing due to legislation passed in Augusta. The plan we have, that everyone seems happy with, is going to be illegal according to the new PTO law.   We will work on a document that explains all the details and have meetings to discuss them.  In the meantime, here are a few quick notes about PTO going forward:
  1. At the end of 2020 we will pay out ALL PTO hours that have not been used. Everyone will end 2020 with 0 hours.
  2. When we begin the new year, we will give everyone 40 hours. Legally you earn them as you go, so if you use hours early in the year you may have a negative number on your paycheck. 
  3. At the end of 2021 you will have to carry your hours into 2022.
  4. Beginning in 2022, you earn hours as you work every 40 hours. Therefore, if you want to take 8 hours of PTO in January or February 2022, unless you carried some over, you will not have enough for a full day of PTO.  It will take working 320 hours (over-time counts) to earn enough time to take an 8-hour PTO day.  
  5. If you have ANY questions, email, text or Facebook Message me. We will gather all the questions, make sure we find the correct and legal answer, and get back to everyone later with the Q&A.
  6. Lastly, if you don’t like these changes, go to Maine Legislature Find my Legislator page  to call or email your State Rep and Senator. And here is the link to the Governor who signed the bill into law – Contact Gov. Janet Mills  Don’t be afraid to use your right to express how you feel.  If they don’t hear from anyone, they assume people are happy to have government micro-managing private businesses.  

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Derek’s outBOX-November 30, 2020

  1. From the buyer at XX:


Volk customer service is EXCELLENT!

Michael Forbes, our account manager, will do whatever it takes to keep us supplied with boxes. 

A little story, just last week (believe me there are many instances) …

Realized we were not going to receive our order as requested (due to COVID) and about to run out of boxes for our #1 SKU during 4th Qtr. Michael Forbes jumped right in and did EVERYTHING to get us our boxes in time.  He is a tremendous asset to Volk and Mike Schmitt and I are extremely appreciative.  Thank you for the EXCELLENT level of customer service!!  You all rock – THANK YOU!!


  1. I want to remind everyone that masks are required until December 14 whenever you are within 6’ of someone.  We have made it this far without a COVID case so let’s finish 2020 strong.


  1. We are having a special breakfast Company Meeting on Thursday, December 3 at 9:00am and 3:30pm to celebrate the 100% participation in our Community Support Week and to finish off No Shave November.  So, if you are taking part in the beard growing, don’t shave until Kara gets an updated photo of you. 


  1. You may be receiving an email or request to attend a webinar presented by the Association of Independent Corrugated Converters. They have a lot of webinars and we signed up for the “season’s pass” so we can attend as many as we want to attend.  I realize everyone is very busy and the workload these days is significant.  The goal of the webinars is not to throw more at you but to help you enhance your career and be more successful. 

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