Doris Bauer of Möbelfertigung magazine recently sat down with newly-appointed Eumabois President Jürgen Köppel for an in-depth interview. A number of interesting, engaging topics were brought up and discussed, and this article delves into the most notable ones.
Möbelfertigung: Mr. Köppel, you were Vice President of Eumabois in your previous term, but now you have taken the foremost position. In your new role, what drives you the most within the federation?
Jürgen Köppel: There is the opportunity to represent some 850 companies from [around the world]. On top of that, I have a [greater sphere of] influence that I can use to help companies, get things moving for them. For example, in Brussels, there are decisions to be made. There is much academic debate, though it is at a political level. For instance, one of our discussions revolves around the topic of sustainability at the machine level, and on occasion, the outcomes we decide on sound favorable, but in reality, they are actually very difficult to carry out. When that happens, it is more practical to include as many enterprises as we can and gather all their concerns… Eumabois is absolutely ideal for undertaking this task.
Companies alone cannot confront particular challenges; it’s too problematic. But we have a tried and proven method to address an extensive number of companies who are all represented by various national associations in Europe. The topic does not matter; it can be related to the definition of technical standards to political affairs.
Möbelfertigung: What is the main reason behind your acceptance of the role of President, stepping up from your previous position of Vice President?
Jürgen Köppel: For me, the predominant reason is that the Vice President, and even the board, with me are operating characters; they all have a part to play in running their enterprises on a daily basis.
For example, Vice President Luigi De Vito is the managing director of the woodworking machinery division in SCM Group. So when it boils down to advising markets and activities, we can all extend our individual expertise and gather different viewpoints about a large range of subject matters. This method is incredibly successful, and we have filled all the positions on the board.
Möbelfertigung: What is Eumabois’ mission now?
Jürgen Köppel: To me, before I became the Vice President, Eumabois’ focus seemed to be primarily concentrated on the international exhibition calendar, along with supporting their growth by advancing some specific exhibitions. Keeping in line with this, one of my aspirations is to augment this action and its effectiveness because I want to enhance the federation and what it represents. That aside, Eumabois speaks on behalf of its members in a number of fields ranging from customs regulations to Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN) standards.
Möbelfertigung: In your opinion, what is the federation’s most important task?
Jürgen Köppel: Certainly, it is consulting and advising for its members. So when smaller companies occasionally say, “This association is not for me.” I am not able to fathom why. It is the smaller enterprises who do not have the finances and resources to perform surveys and costly analysis, but the community affiliated to an association has the means to do exactly that, and they do.
For example, I hold a position in Homag Group. Once, I asked the VDMA, a German association, to help me gather specific and dependable information about a particular market, and even they had a hard time collecting the desired intelligence because the resources were simply not easily accessible.
If it was challenging for them, think about a small producer or manufacturer considering the feasibility of moving its production to China to cut costs and heighten its competitiveness. How can they obtain the industry-specific market information they need other than through Eumabois or their own national associations?
Möbelfertigung: Would you like to change anything in Eumabois?
Jürgen Köppel: Eumabois has very stable groundwork, and we are always enhancing that, coming up with ideas on how to better things. A crucial task for us, for example, is to gather valuable, helpful material like export revenues, figures and the like. These numbers are created by the individual associations in each nation and pour into a common data platform located at Eumabois, so when we put them together, we can get a clearer idea. But machines have advanced a great deal and statistic structures have been rendered somewhat outdated, so for instance, it would be advantageous to revise and update the categorization of the data.
We have pinpointed a few other vital activities as well, last November, so we will be updating them all together.
As an example of the importance of knowledge and awareness of external events, I like to use “Brexit”. Why did it happen? At that time, the downsides of staying in the European community were very noticeable, while there was little debate on the practical and useful facets. With regards to this, we want to achieve a more resilient marketing plan and process. As an example, it is essential that we endorse our positive activities to the public, like notifying others that prices in an exhibition were brought up by 10 Euro per square meter rather than 50 Euro as a consequence of beneficial discourse with Eumabois.
Another example is on our agenda is the Code of Conduct. Such rules and regulations were brought in long ago by some member associations, but not in others. We want to single out the core concepts, altogether, centrally, and then have our member associations use them.
Möbelfertigung: Because of all your extensive exhibition activities, do you get additional benefits?
Jürgen Köppel: At the bottom of it all, there are two imperative advantages for exhibitors. One of them allows single enterprises from national associations to take part in collective booths, so there is no need for them to coordinate and arrange their participation alone.
Member associations can also come under the Eumabois umbrella and draw more attention, and so do not need to set up their own small booth as well. Right now, we are still cultivating and broadening these alternatives, but we do believe they will be welcomed. The collective Eumabois booth will also supply each company with an appealing “remote” point of contact, so active companies in foreign markets who recognize each other will have the chance to exchange outlooks and assessments.
In 2015, Eumabois pushed for a place where visitors and exhibitors could reach out and connect to each other, the formation of a real “federation marketplace”. In the future, we want to continue developing this idea, to apply this approach to other exhibitions.