Are we missing the target?Published 1/7, 2015 at 15:36
Branch associations that look after its member’s interests are very important for industries in order to improve, grow and develop in the right direction. I am particularly thinking of demolition, concrete sawing and drilling, recycling, concrete floor grinding and polishing, hydrodemolition and water jetting. The most active associations are in demolition, concrete sawing and drilling and recycling. National associations are often very down to earth and precise in what they want to achieve. Some national associations are more active and far more ahead then others, which can depend on many different things like the size of the association and number and size of its members. But when it comes to umbrella associations like international associations, Pan-European or Pan-American, it is much more difficult to establish an agenda that really attract a big audience or even more the right audience.
In April I attended the International Association of Concrete Drillers and Sawers’ annual meeting, as I have been doing for a number of years. And in June I attended the European Demolition Association’s annual convention, which we report on in this issue. What struck me, and has done several times, is the poor attendance of contractors from various European markets. A few countries are very well represented, while some hardly at all. I would say that the attendance from Northern Europe is very weak. For example at the EDA meeting in Helsinki there were maybe one or two Swedish demolition contractors represented during the conference day. There should be at least 10 companies represented when the meeting was so close to Sweden. Even the Finnish demolition contractors were poorly represented. Similarly with the IACDS association there are too few representatives from the national associations attending the meetings. This is a serious problem that the industry needs to deal with before it will be too difficult to fix. One positive thing about IACDS is that the new president, Julie White, is a concrete cutting contractor and even more positive, a woman. New vice president is Philippe Wingeier, chief executive of Europe’s largest concrete cutting group Diamantbohr. So the IACDS board now has a very strong contractor representation.
I hear far to often from contractors in Europe that the associations are groups of mutual admiration and too few results come out of their meetings. It is more a question of friends getting together and having fun than the exchange of valuable knowledge that can be useful for the profession and business. Also the number of suppliers represented at the meetings is too high in comparison with the number of potential clients.
I have asked several Swedish demolition contractors, who are members of the Swedish national association, why they do not participate at EDA meetings. They have lots of interesting case stories and demolition methods they could talk about. The answer I often get is that there is nothing for us and is not our style. The EDA and IACDS associations are contractors’ associations, but on a Pan-European or global level but they are still contractors’ forums. And with a shrinking world and increased potential to work outside the boarders and to improve our working skills and efficiency by sharing, it should be in contractors’ best interest to participate. The demands on contractors are also increasing, so in order to stay competitive it is important to stay updated with new norms and regulations. My question is: Are our associations aiming too high or going in the wrong direction?