A year after taking over as president of FINAT, the world-wide association representing the interest of the self-adhesive labelling industry, Kurt Walker discusses current and future strategy as well as milestones and collaborations with other leading associations.
FINAT’s developing strategy
FINAT’s initial four-year strategy was built on four pillars: raising the profile of FINAT and ensuring a healthy growth; further strengthening FINAT as the European umbrella organisation; offering more room for international business development and networking; and, finally, planting seeds in Asia.
And fairly quickly we achieved the 600 member benchmark we had set ourselves and established The Label Printers Forum and the Young Managers Club and both helped increase membership interest in entrepreneurial and management issues.
This success was followed by the agreement of four defined strategic intentions that were later extended to include the fifth:
1. Enhance the global associations network as FINAT and its members go worldwide
2. Improve our service to members by using new media technology
3. Increase the synergies between the Board and committees
4. Re-assess FINAT’s scope as a self-adhesive association
5. A clear agenda to promote sustainability and recycling.
Our relationship with national and international associations is central to our ethos and over the past ten years there has been tremendous evolution. Many national associations, especially in Europe have moved from a purely volunteer-driven force to a more professional structure helping strengthen our operational ties.
Learning from broad industry conversations
Pan-European conversations with key decision makers about their perceptions and expectations regarding FINAT as their European umbrella has helped us to create a better mutual understanding. As I understand it, past discussions tended to focus on our differences but we are now concentrating our energy on subjects where we have a common interest such as recycling, industry statistics, best practice, and education.
Putting into practice
We are now seeing the first tangible results. Thanks to a concerted effort, we have made a real impact in lobbying the European Commission. On the initiative of the Swedish association, the national associations have joined forces to commission AWA to develop and monitor industry-specific raw materials indices. The German association has kindly offered to upgrade their Occupational Health and Safety Best Practice Guide to European level, and an English translation is currently under review by the different associations. The Italian association is sharing their legal terms and conditions of sale and other (technical) industry guidelines. The German and French associations collaborated with FINAT on the first-ever ‘Operators’ Day’ at Labelexpo. The UK association adopted our FINAT Liner Recycling Brochure and proposed the creation of a European good manufacturing practice guide for food labels. By pooling resources and sharing know-how and expertise, we can be stronger than the sum of our individual parts.
The importance of L9
L9 started as an informal get-together of global label associations at Labelexpo Asia in Shanghai at the end of 2009, at the invitation of Roger Pellow from Tarsus. Eight associations from across the globe met to exchange experiences, discuss common problems, and explore the possibilities for closer future interaction. Obviously, many topics addressed within these associations were of a local nature but, as we talked, we found out that we also share several challenges in common.