After a highly successful 2022 celebrating our 50th anniversary, the board of directors recently met to review the association’s strategy.
The association needs to anticipate and respond to its changing external environment – the needs and trends in the flexographic and packaging markets – as well as the specific needs of its partners and members. It then requires a clearly documented vision and mission to ensure everyone on the board understands the core objectives and strategic direction.
Relatively new to many companies, we also discussed our purpose as an organisation. We recognise that particularly in attracting millennials and gen-z employees into the industry, having a purpose – a meaning to your existence – can add real value. So, our team of volunteer directors set about building vision, mission and purpose statements that can stand the test of time and drive a collective approach to our strategy implementation.
Our new vision
“To enable flexography to be the #1 choice for all packaging and label printers.”
When developing a vision statement, the board is looking forward to what we think the flexographic industry could look like in ten years from now. Our role at FIAUK is to ensure we are supporting both our printer and supplier members to progress toward that vision.
We envisioned an industry that was embracing Industry 4.0 – the next phase in the Industrial Revolution that focuses heavily on interconnectivity, automation, machine learning, and real-time data. An industry that is actively addressing its sustainability performance, as well as continuing to compete on a global scale with a diverse, skilled and engaged workforce.
We discussed the challenges that printers and suppliers face today – from supply chain volatility to hiring skilled labour – and prioritised what we saw as the key themes FIAUK could concentrate on to support its members.
What we recognised was that the association has a multi-faceted role in helping our members across a wide range of topics but fundamentally, our job is to ensure that flexography can truly be the number one choice for printers of packaging and labels.
In the early days of EFTA and EFIA, our role was to support the development of the process technically, ensuring its benefits and advantages were communicated broadly in order that companies could both understand and adopt the technology with ease. This meant training and education, workshops, and helplines, as well as the print competition.
Flexography developed from an embryonic print technique to the staple of the industry where innovation still continues but now more relates to incremental improvements and connectivity than basic print capabilities.
Today, flexography is a ubiquitous print technique and is certainly being challenged by digital, which we view as a complementary not competitive technology. Our role at the association has therefore changed too. Today, FIAUK needs to ensure that the knowledge, workforce, and business environment enables continued success for the technology. Today, it’s about lobbying on legislative change, educating the next generation of flexo printers and employees, connecting our industry, supporting sustainability and recognising success.
Our new Mission
“To support and inform our industry through collaboration, representation and education, inspiring the next generation.”
Our role at FIAUK is to support our members and partners – with whatever challenges they face. 2019 through to 2022 certainly created issues never seen before in our sector – the implementation of Brexit, significant paper shortages, escalating energy costs, a global pandemic, an onslaught of new regulations to boost environmental performance… the list goes on.
As a trade association, our mission is to continue to support across multiple programmes from training and education to plate recycling but also to ensure we communicate regularly ensuring all our members and partners are up to date on the latest industry changes, trends and challenges.
We are lobbying government as a member of The Packaging Federation and The GPMA (Graphic, Print and Media Alliance), we are working with the Printing Charity to ensure our members’ employees have the support they need in the current cost of living crisis, and we are building our new, exciting programmes to develop talent in our industry and enable tomorrow’s school leavers to be excited about entering the print and packaging industry.
We are focused on collaborating to drive change – often missing across the packaging industry – ensuring representation at the highest levels of Government or across our school systems and supporting the education process through hands-on training and the FIAUK Academy.
Importantly, we recognise as a board that we have an aging population in the UK printing industry, like many western companies. The net result of this issue is a loss of skills and a ‘brain drain’ as it comes to fruition.
We need to inspire the next generation to think about print and packaging – the role it plays in society. Make our industry attractive across a wide range of skills and functions and ensure we are tapping into the talent pools emerging across the UK. We are delighted therefore in 2023 to establish our first Shadow Board. A second board of directors – specifically from the 18-30 age range – who will work together on a number of projects including helping our industry attract and retain young talent.
After much discussion, the board decided our purpose as an association was simple.
“To connect the flexographic industry”.
FIAUK is a ‘lynchpin’ bringing peer companies and their customers and suppliers to the table to address the bigger industry issues – from sustainability, competitiveness and compliance to attraction and retention of talent and legislative change…. From brands and artworking companies to printers, equipment and consumables manufacturers, to retailers, the purpose of FIAUK is to connect everyone for common understanding and industry development.
All too often, in both the print and packaging industries, we see opposing views from players presented in the media, a lack of representation for the specific flexographic sector, and an inability to gain consensus in what needs to be done on key issues. The industry needs a forum, a meeting point, a collaboration of companies and businesses to meet and address, debate and tackle the challenges for the sustained success of the industry and that’s what FIAUK hopes to provide.
It is well known that the only constant is change. The board of directors recognise this and are working together for the success of the industry – supporting, informing, connecting, engaging, promoting, celebrating, recognising and driving.
Here’s to the next 50 years of FIAUK success!