The 59th annual ARGE conference took place at The Intercontinental Hotel and Congress Centre in Düsseldorf that was held between 14 to17 September 2011. Those who attended will remember this event as being more passionate than others especially the general meeting that caused a lively debate. The new Chairman Jorma Sirén commanded the room supporting the decision of the previous president to use two consultants to improve the services ARGE offers its members (Technical and Marketing). Mr Sirén stated that "ARGE needs these services to move forward and grow stronger".
ARGE are pleased to welcome the following:
The new Chairman, Jorma Sirén from Alboy Oy Finland.Two new Executives to the Board, Paul Browne from Assa Abloy UK and Denis Schnoebelen from Mantion S.A.S. France.The General Secretary Joachim Kieker was voted into his position at the General Meeting.Alessandro Brunelli the Technical Consultant and Zoe Quinlan the Marketing Consultant were voted into continuing their roles within ARGE.
ARGE wishes to thank its former President and General Secretary who were both active and dedicated participants. We chose to Honour David Whitworth (UK) ARGE President from 2007-2011 by making him Honorary President. Alfred Scheurer (Switzerland) attended the Conference and in recognition of his service as General Secretary for over a decade he was awarded the first Honorary Life Membership. We wish to thank David and Alfred for all that they have contributed to ARGE. We would also like to thank Frederic Chanel for his six years as Vice President.
A day of technical meetings was held for the first time in the history of the ARGE conferences a day prior to the conference. During the duration of the meetings I learnt more about the hardware industry than I ever thought possible. We were fortunate to have Hans Peter who is a consultant on Sustainability within the Construction industry explain the importance of the Environmental Products Declaration E.P.D.s. Paul Duggan was unable to attend to present his Update on the European Hardware Standards in person due to transportation issues however the presentation went ahead with the use of his PowerPoint's and Stephan Schmidt's versatility to deliver them. Stephan Schmidt also delivered his own report on the Differences between C.P.R. and C.P.D. The meeting concluded with Alessandro Brunelli informing the audience of approximately 30 delegates on the Special Fire Resistance Requirements for Doors. The reports can be found on the documents page.
The main conference took place over two days which had a strong political theme. One of ARGEs unique selling point is that it has authority to lobby the European Commission on behalf of its European members. We were keen to explore this area and inform members on the different methods of lobbying. The distinguished MEP Karl-Heinz Florenz discussed the support of an MEP to the cause of Trade Associations such as ARGE and suggested joining forces with similar Associations (The European Door and Shutter Federation who had sent a representative) to strengthen our voice in Europe. Karl-Heinz Florenz speech dealt mainly with the topic The Future of the European Union – showcase initiatives as an answer to global changes. The other political speaker was Hans Craen from Kellen Europe (a company our only American Delegate Peters Rush has an interest in) discussed the intricacies of How Brussels Works from the perspective of a Lobbying Agency. Craen's presentation is available on the ARGE website and uses clear illustrations of the many processes a proposal must go through before it can possibly become legislation.
Jacky Sinclair from England gave a cautionary presentation on accountability throughout the supply chain. Her presentation Limiting Your Risk in Sourcing Specification and Supply, is available on the website, is essential reading. The current practice of guaranteeing locks and hardware for 25 year makes manufacturers vulnerable to legislation for a longer period of time than ever before.
The academic Dr. Ulrich Morgenroth gave a detailed and interesting speech on the History of Hardware. The background to locks was particularly illuminating and many delegates could recognise the ancient mechanisms that are similar to the locks they sell today. I personally was interested in Mongenroth's theory that Keys are the originators of wedding rings. In Roman times women were not permitted to own property until they married. On marriage women would gain ownership of a chest. The keys to the chest were worn as a ring. On seeing these rings Roman men would know that the woman was married.
Working Group C which deals with Standards (presentation only available to members in the Working Group section of the ARGE website) discussed the threats from the USA and Far East Standards to our European Standards. Future activities of this group include producing answers to frequently asked questions on topics such as C.E. Markings, C.P.R. and to continue to produce guidelines.
Inge Liden the convenor of Working Group H which produces a translation facility for hardware terminology (available on the ARGE website) expressed frustration at a lack of British volunteers to help with definitions of the new industry components. If any member wishes to become involved with this working group please contact us. (Presentation only available to members in the Working Group section of the ARGE website)
Working Group M which deals with the statistics of the Hardware Market reported on how the industry is suffering from the economic downturn. Arjen Koole the convenor of this group has produced accurate graphs that display the situation of each member country and advises how to move forward from this situation (presentation only available to members in the Working Group section of the ARGE website).
Zoe Quinlan the ARGE Marketing consultant, presented the findings of a questionnaire conducted to improve ARGE services to the National Associations and the secretaries of these bodies. She found mixed views on communication and business matters. It was unanimously agreed that ARGE must remain a European Trade Association and not diversify from current membership rules. The Marketing Report was presented for 2011-2012 and the marketing objectives of the previous year were reviewed.
In conclusion the conference offered and delivered much valuable information to our members, who will be prepared for the coming year and all the changes it will bring. We would also like to extend an invitation to attend the 60th ARGE Conference in September 2012.