Afera 56th Annual Conference: Moving from survival to growth in the post-crisis tape market
This year’s Annual Conference was a departure from Afera’s normal meeting. Held in Sicily at the Atahotel Capotaormina in Taormina from 1-4 October—5 October if you count Afera’s full-day organised outing to Siracusa—the Meeting 1) saw the attendance of more tape producers than in the past, 2) marked the shift of themes and discussions to real growth and the way forward for companies along the tape industry value chain, 3) offered the highest-quality presentations to date, and 4) solidified itself as the premier networking and informational event for the self-adhesive tape industry. Various Conference participants, in addition to Afera’s management, already refer to the Sicily meeting as the most forward-looking and fruitful industry gathering of the last several years.
Italy as host
Afera’s Annual Conference is held in a different European city every year according to its regional rotation scheme. This year’s event was hosted by Afera’s “Italy” (now “Southern Europe”) region of Membership and organised at a popular, economical conference destination on the largest island of the Mediterranean. A great cross-section of upper-level management of the most important players—large and small—in the tape industry, the 4-day event’s attendance consisted of 119 delegates and 26 partners from 13 European countries (including Turkey), plus the U.S. and U.A.E.
The Marketing Committee, which is composed of Afera Member Company delegates, spent a great deal of time developing a programme focussed on issues affecting self-adhesive tape manufacturers right now: the state of the economy, growth opportunities, fluctuating raw material supplies, quality assurance, social media, prominent market segments such as building and construction, and stress management. Presentations were given by real experts and “captains” in their fields and in the tape industry.
“The Future of Growth”, delivered by Marc de Vos of the Itinera Institute, an independent think tank located in Belgium, was the highest-rated presentation of the Sicily Conference. This was closely followed by “Surviving the Contraction of Adhesive Raw Material Supply” by Tom Brewer of Hydrocarbon Resin Service DeWitt & Company, based in the U.S. Pedro Gonzalez of the University of Hamburg/Institute of Sports-medicine in Germany also received high scores for his lecture on “Stress Management/Burn-Out Prevention within Corporations.” Look for detailed coverage of each of the nine lectures in the next few issues of Afera News.
Captains of industry panel debate
The “Captains of Industry” Debate proved to be the true highlight of the Working Programme. A panel consisting of Mike Ayres (CEO, Advance Tapes), Laurent Derolez (CEO, Chargeurs/Novacel S.A. and incoming Afera President), Aric Getty (European IATD Business Director, 3M), Eric Pass (Director - Member of Board, Nitto Europe NV) and Matthias von Schwerdtner (Corporate Vice President Industrial Products & Markets, tesa) discussed loaded questions posed by moderator Mike Punter (Managing Director, Parafix Tapes & Conversions and Afera Marketing Committee Chairman). Along the Conference theme “Moving from Survival to Growth in the Post-Crisis Tape Market,” the experienced top managers shared their reality and views on planning for growth, staying competitive, innovation, the Generation Y workforce and much more. Some interesting conclusions about where European tape businesses are currently headed were drawn from this interesting 40-minute conversation. Read more
Combined with the customary Conference Programme of two days of lectures and activities were the biyearly meetings of the Technical, Marketing and Steering Committees. Most significantly, Afera Member Company delegates discussed and decided upon developing Afera’s cutting edge content marketing strategy, collaborating with MKVS, heading a new working group on PSAs within the European Committee for Standardisation TC 193, continuing Afera’s reciprocal membership with FEICA, linking a local mechanical engineering university to the Tape College 2014, and developing harmonised SAFT and Loop Tack Test Methods.
Last but certainly not least, the Annual Conference’s Social Programme provided a much-appreciated outlet for networking, which was determined via official survey to be the most valued aspect of the event. Trips to visit Mount Etna and Siracusa, in addition to elegant oceanfront dining, allowed company and industry colleagues alike to unwind and connect on issues that might not have been broached in the boardroom. Tape industry professionals who might never have met, found themselves crammed together in an excursion jeep or partners at the dining table. During the extra day tour of Siracusa, one attendee remarked during lunch, “This is the only time during the year that we are able to sit down with our partners along the value chain and have those conversations that you simply cannot schedule into a business meeting.” He went on to say that “this event is invaluable to us because it removes us from our daily environment and allows us to focus on tape industry players and issues from a different angle.”
Afera’s Sicily Conference re-established the Afera event as the get-together where the challenging issues, partners and deals are granted new opportunities. Be sure not to miss next year’s Annual Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Hosted by Afera’s “Eastern Europe” region of Membership, the event will be held during Week 40 (30 September – 3 October 2014) at the Dubrovnik Palace Hotel.
Special thanks to these Sicily Conference sponsors: