Distributor association CEDA is currently ushering the culmination of a number of workstreams into being, after spending the last few years putting the building blocks in place.
The organisation has transformed itself in order to create this progress, as director general Adam Mason detailed: “In the 4 years I have been at CEDA we’ve addressed the culture and identity of the association and the wider industry. We have reached a point where I am satisfied with where we have got to and membership numbers have grown fairly significantly as a result of those changes.”
One of these measures was CEDA’s rebrand, which Mason feels has made the association “more reflective of the membership and the industry that we serve”, adding: “My members don’t just buy and sell catering equipment, they are specialists and they deliver outstanding service and support in design, projects and equipment.
“The rebrand reflects that change of focus because there is no point in us going to the operator market if there’s a confusing message. Now that we’ve got the first part right, we are starting to see the fruits of that with members telling us they have won business directly as a result of being a CEDA member.”
Tasked with driving that agenda is Crystaltech MD and new CEDA chairman Derek Maher, who began his tenure at last month’s CEDA Conference 2019. “There will be a huge transition over the next couple of years and I will be at the forefront of moving that forward, making the whole industry more professional. Everything we are doing now is developing the catering equipment industry as a profession, as it has not been seen as that in the past.”
Maher further explained: “My aim as chairman will be to help CEDA raise industry standards, which it is best placed to do as it is more end user-focused than any of the other organisations. When our members are tendering for projects, they have to be seen as a professional outfit with all the accreditations behind them, and CEDA is absolutely promoting that and assisting them at every step.”
He has 39 years’ experience in the industry to help inform his role as chair, and although Crystaltech now specialises in servicing and maintenance, in the past it also undertook major installations and projects at leading venues such as Disneyland Paris and Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. Plus prior to that he was an equipment buyer, so he has a broad background to draw on.
Mason is very sure that Maher is the man for the job, revealing: “Nobody will take the chairmanship better than Derek. Since he became vice chair in December he has independently visited many former chairs of CEDA and other industry associations to get an understanding of CEDA’s evolution and what the role meant to them as individuals.
“He will give 100% to deliver for the association, and it has been inspiring to see somebody willing to do that.”
A key element to providing a clear industry career path was the 2015 creation of the CEDA Academy, for young industry talent. Mason said: “They are not only meeting and talking, but are being recognised as delivering positive outputs for the association and the wider industry, in terms of a project they did last year on sustainability and one they are undertaking now on training, learning and development.”
Every CEDA Conference also enables Academy members to learn about the association’s platinum partner suppliers, who are each given a bitesize 5 minute slot to present on the same topic.
According to Maher: “The Academy gives its members a focus to gain a professional qualification, as people have often ended up in the industry almost by default. Now anyone coming out of college or university will be able to see a definite career path, and that’s what’s been missing.”
The Academy initiative has also sparked a demographic change in CEDA Conference attendees. Mason commented: “That’s a direct result of engaging with more people within CEDA members’ businesses, a number of which are young and thirsty for knowledge. It was former chair Mark Kendall who pointed out to a room of suppliers before an Academy meeting: these are the people these companies need to engage with, because they are the ones specifying the equipment.”
All of this transformation is changing perceptions of CEDA, inside and outside its membership. Said Maher: “It’s becoming a real professional organisation, and I’m very lucky to be entering as chairman at this stage – the development and work that’s been done previously will come to fruition during my tenure.”
While Mason summarised: “It was a challenge 4 years ago to go to a non-member and tell them about CEDA, because they thought they knew what it was. The transition started around 10 years ago and it takes that long to change people’s minds, because they have to see action. A number of new members that came onboard as a result of launching BIM training as we did last year, the switch flicked in them to see real positive action on topics integral to their business.
“To be relevant to all of our varied membership is challenging, but that’s our job and accept the responsibility of delivering value, support and services to them, their employees and the wider industry. It’s an easier job seeing a non-member now but there are still perceptions that exist out there and that’s just our ongoing challenge of breaking down those barriers.”
Further new initiatives which CEDA hopes will make joining it essential for distributors include the new CEDA SAFE health and safety accreditation. Mason revealed: “It’s something that has never been done specifically for our industry before. It will be administered independently by a third party company and it will set a standard.”
While Maher detailed: “It will massively cut down on red tape for both contractors and manufacturers as it will be one form will be accepted throughout the industry and even by end users.”
CEDA SAFE encompasses all the core criteria required by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and removes the need for individual companies to create assessment documents – this one accreditation should apply throughout the supply chain.
Mason described Maher as being “instrumental” in the accreditation’s development, having worked with the HSE to bring the scheme to fruition.
On the learning side of things CEDA has now made its final submission for a commercial catering equipment apprenticeship to the Institute of Apprenticeships and the association is hoping to hear back about funding allocations imminently. Mason commented: “A lot of work has gone into this over the last 9 months and I’m enormously grateful to every member that has attended meetings to input into it. Kirstin Hatherley has done a great job of chairing this Trailblazer group.”
Other learning initiatives now come under CEDA’s new LED banner (Learning, Education and Development). The association engaged education and skills consultant Darren Goodenough in a 3 month project, as Mason explained: “His brief was to look at what we do now as a provision, talk to the membership to ascertain what they want, then put in place a series of initiatives and programmes that we can then deliver.”
The qualifications CEDA now offers are in customer service, leadership and management, with non-apprenticeship alternatives, as well as bolstering the association’s e-learning platform with features such as 5-miunte micro-learning videos. It will also be able to provide workshops to provide a full lifecycle of employee development.
The association’s transformational benefits are also filtering down to the associate members and platinum partners. According to Mason: “If we make members’ businesses better, then they sell more equipment and the supply chain has a better chance of increasing their turnover with them.
“We try now to be more collaborative with the industry, and instead of talking about the 120 members we have, we speak about the 170-strong family that CEDA is, including the supply chain, working together to create a bigger and better industry.”
And to that end, the annual CEDA Conference is focusing on this theme of collaboration. Mason believes: “We have a tagline of ‘connecting our industry’ and this 2 day event is that personified. Every type of representative attends: members, suppliers, manufacturers, buying groups and end user associations.
“We attempt to reflect that in the business day programme we deliver – we now have more industry speakers than a few years ago, and we are tighter on speaker briefs as we want to know about how their challenges and positives link directly to design, projects and equipment.”
The association also links up with other industry events, such as Commercial Kitchen, Casual Dining, Lunch, HRC, LACA’s Main Event and the Universal Cookery and Food Festival. Mason concluded: “Anywhere that our message needs to be heard or needs to be louder, that’s where we need to be.
“Our message is very clear: this is what our members do, this is how good they are and this is why you should do business with them.”
Mental health initiative
One of Catering Insight’s very own comment pieces spurred CEDA into action over the issue of mental health in the catering equipment industry, as director general Adam Mason recalled: “It struck a chord with me, and so I researched on what support exists in other industries and how they are embracing it.”
This led to him finding an organisation called Mates in Mind, which worked in the construction industry. “Our industry is linked in some ways to construction, so there was a degree of overlap there,” said Mason. “I enquired as to whether there was an opportunity for their remit to be extended beyond the construction sector and CEDA has now become a supporter of the organisation.”
Mason has worked with Mates in Mind’s head of programme, Stephen Haynes to determine the next course of action, which will include an industry survey on mental health. “This will help us to understand from an employer’s point of view what they believe the challenges are for mental health, what these businesses either have in place or would like support with,” Mason reported.
“The results of that survey will determine what our next steps are, but we have already spoken about delivering surgeries around the country for members to attend to learn about the support tools that Mates in Mind offer, such as documentation and access to helplines, for both employers and employees.”
He concluded: “Mental health is something that would be very easy to ignore, but I think as an industry organisation we need to show a degree of responsibility and provide our members and the wider industry the tools and guidance that they need, whilst highlighting the challenges that exist.”