Welcome to the mid-year EPDA newsletter, where I have the chance to update you on the Board and staff activities and plans as well as outline changes taking place within our association. Despite the distraction of the European elections, the continued civil unrest in East Ukraine, leading to the reluctant withdrawal from EPDA of one of our members and, for some, the Eurovision Song Contest (not me, I hasten to add), we managed to host the 41st Annual EPDA Conference in Malmö, Sweden. From the post-conference survey feedback, the event was once again well-received and proved very successful.
From a business perspective, the quarterly State of the Nation survey, combined with other external indicators, would suggest that our markets are doing well in 2014. Our members are experiencing increasing sales revenues and volumes and, as a consequence, are able to increase headcount, make those all-important CAPEX investments and at the same time are experiencing a healthy debtor situation. Let us all continue to drive our industry forward for the remainder of the year and make it one of the best.
EPDA Annual Conference
An interesting statistic is that our distributor members have operations in 25 European countries and it was appropriate to hold this year’s conference in the rapidly expanding and increasingly cosmopolitan city of Malmö, Sweden. Another important statistic is that we welcomed 14 first-timers from across those countries as well as a good number of friends and colleagues from the IAPD, allowing us to remain updated on activities from “the other side of the pond.”
It is always a challenge to prepare a comprehensive programme that appeals to all. However, after external presentations from Kent Andersson, Mayor and Chairman of the Malmö City Council, and industry-related talks from François de Bie and Dr Peter Michel, combined with a number of talks from EPDA members covering a range of topics relevant to our industry, the Friday business meeting went well. The Gala dinner is always a highlight and this time it was held in the Malmö Stock Exchange, a light and airy venue, where we enjoyed plenty of engaging conversations and fun. In addition, the event raised significant funds for a most worthy charitable concern, the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC). EORTC was chosen as a tribute to Dr Rudolf Klepsch, founder of Zell-Metall GmbH, and his on-going fight with cancer. EPDA members agree this is a worthy cause and a fitting way to honour Dr Klepsch, a past president of EPDA, for his service to the association.
If you would like to make a donation to EORTC please use this link: http://www.eortc.org/donate and ensure you add the reference “EPDA Donation” to your donation. Please also notify EPDA staff of your donation so we may keep track of the total funds raised.
Saturday saw a few early departures. Yet, the programme seemed to get better and better with the inaugural round table discussions and manufacturer and distributor council meetings.
The festivities were rounded off by what has to be one of the best ever optional dinners where 24 of us celebrated the conclusion to the 41st Annual EPDA Conference in traditional Scandinavian/Nordic style at Rådhuskällaren restaurant.
Board Composition Update
At the conference I was able to say a fond farewell to both Alar Künnapuu and Tan Ali, who having served valuable time on the Board, allowed for some new blood. After a unanimous ballot, I would like to welcome that new blood, in the guise of Lari Hahtonen and Stefan Willing, both of whom were duly elected to serve a two-year term as Board members. In my previous president’s message, I made a plea for distributor members to come forward to stand for election and as a consequence we now have a healthy listing of potential candidates likely to stand in the coming years. However, there is not a lot of interest from members to assume the presidency role. Therefore, the Board will explore other options as to how we might cover that important leadership position from May 2015 onward. In the interim, to maintain continuity until an alternative candidate can be found, both Steffen Oellers and I volunteered, and were duly elected, to stand for a further one-year term in our current positions. If you would like to know more about what is involved in any Board role please do not hesitate to contact Jackie Driss Laurent or any Board member for help.
For some time, I have advocated that a complimentary delegate should be an integral part of the distributor membership. The Board has collectively been concerned over the lack of attendance by distributor members at the association’s key networking event, the annual conference, as this, too, is unhealthy for manufacturer members. With unanimous support of the Board, including Lari and Stefan, I was pleased to submit a ballot at the 2014 Conference to restructure the dues starting in January 2015. The dues are designed to add greater value to both distributor and manufacturer groups by encouraging a greater level of engagement of existing members and is an added incentive to entice new members to join. I am pleased to say that the ballot passed with an almost unanimous YES vote (only one NO vote was recorded).
Therefore, with effect from 1st Jan 2015, the membership dues will be restructured as below:
- Distributor members – Dues will increase 3 percent to €1384 but will include one complimentary attendee at the Annual Conference
- Manufacturer members – Dues will increase to €1950, will not include a complimentary delegate at the annual conference but will include a complimentary table top
The 2015 conference is to be held in Barcelona, Spain. Block your diaries now! I look forward to an impressive turnout of distributor and manufacturer members and a comprehensive showing at the table tops from our manufacturer members. Let us work together to make Barcelona a conference to be remembered.
The process to appoint a new association management company is well underway with a shortlist of candidates and second interviews planned. The Board hopes to make an announcement to membership no later than the Q3 newsletter.
The affiliation to IAPD for 2015 onwards is also in negotiation and this will be resolved before the year’s end. In the interim, you will see no change in the services offered. Access to webinars, training materials, the IAPD convention and The IAPD Magazine will continue as before.
Until the September newsletter, I wish your every success and I hope you find the remaining articles in this newsletter of interest.
My best regards