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Inside the Mind of a Packaging Engineer: A Conversation with Damon Lucenta of the Pregis IQ

While every person is unique, different roles within a company share common needs, challenges and goals. We are launching the Pregis Packaging Perona series to uncover these commonalities, and we begin with Damon Lucenta, Manager at Pregis IQ Innovations Headquarters

Understanding customers on a deeper level allows us to have more meaningful interactions, solve problems more effectively and deliver greater value.  

While every person is unique, different roles within a company share common needs, challenges and goals. We are launching the Pregis Packaging Perona series to uncover these commonalities, enabling you to address the unique needs of roles you’ll find in the packaging industry.    

To start, we sat down with Damon Lucenta, Manager at Pregis IQ Innovations Headquarters, to gain insight into the critical role of packaging engineers. With over 15 years of experience as a packaging engineer, Damon offers a diverse wealth of knowledge. 

Can you explain the function of a packaging engineer?  

Damon: Absolutely. A packaging engineer works closely with operations teams to ensure that packaging is not only effective but integrates seamlessly into their processes. The most effective engineers act as a bridge between operations teams and suppliers. 

What key metrics are used to evaluate the effectiveness of a packaging engineer? 

Damon: Cost reduction is a significant metric. Many engineers manage a packaging portfolio.  For instance, each year, they might be responsible for a set number of projects, each with a target for cost savings. Cost savings could come via things like damage reduction, material optimization, shipping fees - not necessarily on competing on price from competitors. 

Those at larger organizations may be focused on packaging design and development. They are evaluated more on the physical properties and capabilities of the materials or systems.  

What is a frequent challenge for packaging engineers?  

Damon: A major challenge for packaging engineers is being brought into projects too late, especially when purchasing departments have already made decisions.  This can lead to a scenario where they're tasked with creating a design to see if it's feasible rather than being part of a collaborative solution-finding process from the beginning. 

What should a packaging representative focus on when contacting a packaging engineer? 

Damon: When reaching out, it’s effective to discuss the range of available material options. If possible, tailor the conversation to include the specific materials they currently use, along with alternative materials that could enhance their project.  

Aim for a partnership approach, emphasizing how you can make their job easier. This involves finding cost savings opportunities and helping with sustainability initiatives. A good approach is to ask about their KPIs and goals for the year and how you can assist in achieving them. 

What considerations should sales keep in mind when working with packaging engineers?  

Damon: It's beneficial when the sales team treats us as a strategic partner, involving us early in projects for collaboration before any material decisions are made. This approach leads to more effective collaboration and better outcomes. We like to say that 'Engineers like working with Engineers', so encouraging clients to include packaging engineers in discussions from the start can be effective. 

Are there any approaches to avoid when contacting engineers? 

Damon: Avoid focusing solely on piece price. Some engineers like to dictate their needs, while others are more receptive to suggestions. It's important to treat them as experts and emphasize partnership and strategic collaboration. Focusing on cost savings and sustainability is key.

While it’s important to treat them as experts, it's also important to acknowledge that engineers value working with individuals they can learn from.  It’s just as important to provide value as a Pregis representative as it is to recognize them as an expert in their field to foster a good relationship.

In wrapping up our conversation with Damon Lucenta, we’ve learned that the role of a packaging engineer balances operational efficiency, performance, cost-effectiveness and sustainability. Damon’s insights highlight the importance of early involvement and strategic partnerships for success. By applying these lessons, we can tailor our approach  to meet the unique needs of our customers.