by JONATHAN BHANA-THOMSON, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, HEAVY HAULAGE ASSOCIATION
I AM IN CONSTANT awe of those industry members who dedicate their time and effort towards benefiting not only their own business, but the wider industry sector of which they are a part (and often in direct competition with those they help).
When this is done is through the forum of an Association this gives the opportunity for these voices to be combined in a way that will be taken seriously by the various regulatory bodies that we deal with.
I particularly want to pay homage to those industry members who contribute significantly to their industry by being willing to be elected to committees, boards or project teams. On top of paid roles within their company, they are willing to contribute their time to looking after the bigger picture.
However the key is that they are willing to look at the value of the bigger picture of what benefits the whole industry rather than the narrower interests of just their own company.
Many associations in the industries that we commonly deal with have paid staff to carry out the detailed work as well as maintain structures for volunteer efforts to be achieved within. However I have always maintained that the experts are those who are actually out their doing it – on the road in the case of my members. I continually refer to members if I get a question that deserves a real-world answer rather than the answer that I know from reading the legislation or other information.
You get a wonderful range of input as well – all of which is valued and important. Some people are great on detail; others tend to have a helicopter view and a more strategic look at things. Once members get to see the benefit of contributing to the greater good, they leave their natural competitive business sense at the door to pull together for the greater good of the group.
Associations are in the business of representing their members, and the key is to draw out the relevant information, bounce it off those representatives who are on boards, and produce documents that put forward a good case, or represent best practice information that captures excellence while at the same time practicality. Without the input from industry members, and oversight of project teams or representatives, these outputs will simply not be relevant or realistic.
The strength of an organisation is the sum of the various parts that it has – but particularly the efforts, information and passion that the members put into the organisation. With the Heavy Haulage Association there are various sector groups that make up the whole Association. What we have found is that when there are specific issues or projects to consider, sector groups come together to fight these, and as a result the group gets stronger. This has been the basis for a strong group to be formed that has then gone on to work on various other projects that have been of significant benefit. We have achieved some great results, which would not have happened if industry members had not been willing to put their own time into these efforts.
Over the years we have tried to get coherence in these groups by have specific meetings at our annual conference, and also sending out specific sector group newsletters, while each group has a specific convenor of each group – most of whom are elected at the AGM and contribute at a board level.
In some ways this is a thankless task, with expectations of a good job done following that done by those great people who have fulfilled these roles previously. I want to pay tribute to these individuals who have contributed in the past as well as those currently, and those still to come. A basic tenet of an association, is that it goes on (hopefully for a good long period) and doesn’t tie itself to any particular people or members – but exists for the greater good of the current and future members. Of course this could not have been achieved without the voluntary efforts of all those people who have served on executives and boards – and I have a list of those extra special people on the wall in the Association who have made outstanding contributions – and this is recognised by Life membership or other awards.
My challenge to all those other members of the Association is that not everyone wants to, or can make it onto boards of associations, but we do need new people coming through in time to assist. Even if these roles are not for all members, we do need members to play their part by responding to queries for information, providing information to board members about particular topics, attending meetings and AGMs, or even just picking up the phone to give a quick bit of advice or their opinion.
It all adds up to a strong and proactive industry group which is equipped to represent the sector and put forward the interests of the industry for the benefit of all.