Just back from the latest AREA General Assembly – this time we were hosted by one of our Italian Associations, Assofrigoristi, near Padova. A beautiful area, about an hour West of Venice, we were also blessed by a mini heatwave – unfortunately the hotel was too busy to hold our meetings around the pool but you can always dream.
Anyway, you’ve possibly read the headlines by now on the news pages that we elected a new Board this year. After two terms serving the association as President it was time to step aside and I was very pleased to hand over to my Swedish friend and colleague Per Jonasson who has served the last four years as Treasurer. Reading some of the press releases has brought to my attention the enormous depth of skills and expertise that AREA has at its disposal. For example, Per is a past managing director of York Refrigeration Sweden, of Huurre Sweden, and currently heads the Swedish Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Association KYL and the Swedish Heat Pump Association: a very impressive list of companies to draw his experience from and AREA is very lucky to have him at the helm for the next two years. But there are a number of others involved at AREA who bring a similar history of experience and expertise and the entire European contracting community is all the richer for being able to rely on these remarkable dedicated individuals who work so well together at debunking the legislative minefield of regulations we all have to endure.
I’ve been doing a lot of reflection lately as the date drew nearer to when I stood down as President, which I suppose is fairly normal, and the most common thought was the realisation of just what an enormous honour it has been to serve as President of AREA. Coming as I do from such a small family business, it has not come cheaply. I wouldn’t like to put a monetary value on it because it’s so much more than that - the position does come with some fabulous opportunities for networking and I’ll always cherish the opportunities to speak at the European Parliament and at a number of trade shows and conferences. I remember thinking, a long time ago now during an RAC Group committee meeting of what was the HVCA, that I’d like to become Chairman of that Group sometime around my 40th birthday. As it turned out I stood down from that position by the time I was 40 and now, at the still fairly tender age of 46, I’ve stood down from what I believe is probably the peak of representative positions – which all in all isn’t a bad achievement coming from a small family business in Scotland!
AREA itself has continued to evolve as well throughout the last four years and is now firmly established as the definitive voice of the RAC contracting community for Europe. I think anybody serving as Chairman, President or figurehead of an association wants to leave their position with the association in a stronger position than when they started. I was lucky to follow my Austrian friend and colleague Gerhard Neuheuser in the role, another industry stalwart in his country rather like Per is in Sweden, and Gerhard had steered us through a very difficult period where internal divisions were taking a lot of the enjoyment out of representing the UK. His leadership was an excellent example to me and I’d like to think I continued his good work and took AREA to a different level than we had ever experienced. AREA is now one of the first ports of call for the European Commission; and politicians and civil servants alike rely on our expertise to advise them on implementation and feasibility with the regulations.
If any of my AREA colleagues past or present are reading this: thank you for the support, faith and professionalism during my many years representing the UK in Europe. I’ve made many friends right across Europe and take some great memories from my time. Not that I’m going anywhere just yet: as immediate past President I still have a role to play in supporting and advising my successor; and I’ll still represent UK contractors through the B&ES for the time being. Apologies to my readers if this blog is a bit more self indulgent than normal but after some of the comments on earlier blogs I thought some might appreciate the reflection. I promise to come back with something more challenging very soon – after all we’ve just had another F Gas discussion at AREA so there are lots of technical things for me to moan about, just as soon as I find some time to collect my thoughts!