People in Print

Unlocking knowledge with FESPA Nederland

by FESPA Staff | 26/01/2024
Unlocking knowledge with FESPA Nederland

We speak to Eduard Hoogendijk of FESPA Nederland on the benefits of networking and problem-solving as a trade association member.

Club FESPA Online spoke to Eduard Hoogendijk, Managing Director of FESPA Nederland, soon after the successful completion of the FESPA TREND event in Leusden, which gathered more than 200 professionals from the sign and print industry to network with peers and to identify new directions in the print industry for 2024 and beyond.

Breakout sessions at the event included one on networking, which Eduard considers to be central to doing good business and forging strong working relationships. Networking is a skill that has become underused, partly because of the after-effects of the pandemic, Eduard says.

The art of networking

“In most industries, people are used to just talking with people they already know. So, you have to actually manage your staff’s networking. At the event, we had speed networking, where attendees changed tables every three or four minutes to force them to speak to other people and a hackathon to work together with people from various companies on solving a business problem.


“I think it’s very important that people get to know each other and learn why people are doing the things they are doing. In November we had a very good session of the Industry Innovator group, a special group consisting of 30 inspiring people within our association. They shared a lot of information about their company’s problems, freely and openly. People were very comfortable explaining the challenges they faced and if and were unsure how to solve it. They were able to ask other if they had any suggestions for a solution. People spoke about how they grew their companies, what their ideas were, and how they were going to grow in the future.

“You can only accomplish this with face-to-face meetings, not on via Zoom or online meetings. These are the benefits, not just with networking in general, but also in belonging to a trade association like FESPA.”

Generation gap

The recruitment of younger people, who may lack confidence or prefer home-working, was another reason suggested by Eduard that networking skills need to be improved.

Eduard took particular interest in a keynote speech made by psychologist Jos Ahlers, who described the different generations (X, Y, Z and Alpha) now present in the workplace, how they work most productively and what their aspirations are. What are FESPA Nederland and its members doing to retain younger people from different generations, with their different values, attitudes, and communication styles?

“Onboarding is very important, especially for young people,” says Eduard. “Older people must be more open to the ideas of younger people. At the same time, young people must be aware that they don’t know everything. They need to be open to learn from all the people who have some knowledge about how a real-world company works. Young people have ideas and some technical information about the job they have to do, but not how this works in a company.”


“For the older generation, life was work, work was life. That is not the case now.” However, Eduard accepts that the older generations can learn from the young too – in terms of social media, marketing and explaining new trends – as well as being inspired by them.

“A lot of people who set up print businesses in the 1980s and 1990s are now passing the business to their children. These children don’t want to run the business the same way as their parents and are diversifying – they want to expand into different markets and technology. This in turn adds to a widening skills gap.”

Taking inspiration – from co-workers, clients and competitors – is clearly a crucial element to belonging to a trade association such as FESPA. And inspiration is key to recruiting and retaining younger, fresher workers into the print industry.

Pooling know-how

Inspiring the next generation and networking with professional colleagues are key benefits to FESPA members, Eduard says. But FESPA Nederland is pushing ahead with amassing more technical information and sharing with its members.

“We focus a lot of time towards creating technological know-how, particularly with focus groups,” he says. “In the first quarter of this year, we are starting to gather in-depth information about specific products or product groups: films, plastics or banners, for example. So we bring together everyone from the supply chain for a focus group: manufacturers, distributors, converters, installers, end users, raw material suppliers. 

“We talk about what we are doing now, what we did in the past, the things we are able may be able or capable to do in the future. What are the threats? What are the sustainability implications? It’s important that everyone talks to each other. We create small groups so everyone has the opportunity to have their say about this topic. We want to operate at a high level, so if we need specialists to come in from university or from a specialised company to give us extra information, we will try to arrange that.

“Of course, we run a lot of meetings and conferences, one almost every month. We signal the impact changes in the market and industry, share information and insights, and pay special attention to sustainability, innovation and efficiency. We always look to the future. Our scope focuses on the future of our industry.”


Future challenges in the print industry

What is the future of the industry from the FESPA Nederland perspective? Eduard sees five principal challenges: recruitment, costs, diversification, the skills gap and sustainability.

  1. Recruitment. “When I talk to my colleagues, everyone has problems getting the right people to the company with the right experience, especially when the technology is moving so fast. The skills portfolio is especially important for addressing sustainability for example.”
 
  1. Costs of doing business. “There was a time when the cost of plastics went up massively. Now the prices are going down, but of course the costs of labour and energy are going up. So it levels out a bit, but it’s still a challenging situation.”
 
  1. Diversification. “We are looking closely at the way we connect with our customers. How can we attract the proper customers? And how can we still be interesting to them? Not by lowering our price, but getting new added value into our company. What niches can we move into? Partnerships and collaboration between companies enhance possibilities.”
 
  1. Skills gap. “Digital signage, for instance, is a great sustainable option. With traditional signage, customers sometimes use something for a few weeks and then throw it away. But there is a skills gap around the technological know-how needed for digital signage. So again it’s about ensuring the skill portfolio of employees is suitable.”
 
  1. Sustainability. “In becoming a more sustainable industry we have to create steps to keep up with customer demands and increasing regulations. This does not change overnight, so as an industry we have to show we are changing and take this seriously.”

For more information, visit fespa.nl


 
by FESPA Staff Back to News

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