Summer reflections

The CFA’s year was as sunny as Britain’s summer, as Richard Catt explains in this month’s column.

AS I write this article in early September, the weather has definitely changed and while I hope for a few more days of sunshine, I think the summer is probably mostly over. But what an incredible summer it was!

For various reasons family Catt opted for a holiday in the UK this year and the two weeks we spent in the New Forest were amazing. Almost… no not almost, very much, Mediterranean weather. Alfresco dining every night and days on the beach, with only a wind break as a slight reminder that the English Channel was in front of us. But that made flying kites even better, to our surprise something my son and I really enjoyed. NO screens involved?! Ah, the simple pleasures.

This reflective mood extends to business and it wasn’t only a good summer weatherwise, but a good one for the CFA. Highlights for me included some brilliant events both north and south of the border: golf, horseracing and one of the best Summer Balls in recent memory. It just sort of clicked. About 200 people attended the Ball in Chester and, with lots of smiling faces, relationships were forged or renewed, providing a platform for great business going forward. The Annual Ball moves to Edinburgh in 2019 with a change of the time of year to October. We’ve chosen the lovely location of the Dalmahoy Hotel and Country Club, Edinburgh. I suspect it’ll be VERY popular, so book early when we release the tickets.

Speaking of Scotland, the Bishopbriggs Golf event in August was another great success. The course was in fabulous condition and the 24 players came back raving about how well it played (as enthusiastic as those that played on the Brabazon at the Belfry earlier in the year). The networking event prior to the golf was also extremely successful with more than 40 people attending. Representatives from Colleges, CITB, contractors, manufacturers and distributors shared lunch and compared notes.

But the social side of the summer wasn’t the only good bit, the business focus was also strong. I’m sure you’ll have seen the increase in our marketing activity led by our still relatively new marketing executive, Lisa.

There has been more traffic in terms of social media, with valuable messages to members about what benefits they have to hand, as well as tweets focused on reminding the wider construction industry and clients of why it’s good to use a CFA member.

The CFA monthly email update was relaunched at the start of the year and now has a more user-friendly format that is easier to read on mobile devices. It continues to provide members with a commercial advantage through insight into various areas of industry intelligence and CFA benefits.

June saw us welcome our new training manager, Shaun, on board and I’m delighted at the work that’s been achieved over the summer. There has been much emphasis on work at Fita, with the design of new courses, a planned re-vamp of the whole centre, new sponsors welcomed onboard, not to mention establishing a base for Fita in Scotland through collaboration with Forbo.

Standard courses have been slightly up in attendance and we’ve delivered several commercial courses for manufacturers and clients, helping them grow sales as well as adding to skills and labour in our sector.

We’ve started some incredibly valuable work through our Manufacturing Committee on two new guidance notes relating to screed boards and the wider issues of maintenance of floorcoverings.

It was felt the CFA could offer an independent voice to support members in promoting best practice regarding floorcovering maintenance to architects, designers, specifiers and perhaps a few contractors.

How many floors are criticised for their appearance, taking valuable time to investigate, when it’s simply a maintenance issue? If you’re a CFA member look out for those new technical documents in early 2019 as they’ll take some time to complete. But great work started.

Our AGM saw us welcome Garry Bateman in to the role of president, with Hamish MacGregor as his vice-president and full seats for all other council positions. Like many of his forerunners he’s brought his own, very welcome, ideas to the role, explaining in his first article that he will be focusing during his two-year presidency on training and excellence.

On the strategic front, from feedback and input from the council, I updated the CFA business plan, with our one, three and five-year objectives clearly outlined. This includes our aspiration to work in a less-paper environment and to that end we’ve invested in some scanning technology.

In fact, we combined the decision process behind the scanning or shredding of archived documentation with the start of our own internal GDPR journey.

The GDPR regulations came into play in May of this year and the CFA undertook a large piece of work to create guidance for members on the necessary steps to take for their own GDPR process.
All in all, a great summer, however you look at it.
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Richard Catt is ceo of the CFA