So spring is here, the nights are drawing out and everything appears a little more optimistic. It seems like a good time for new beginnings and a fresh start, and the launch of the new branding for our association could not be better timed.

The two merged organisations have successfully come together and now operate efficiently as one. Branding has, however, been an issue. The simplicity of pushing the two names together to form AIS FPDC makes it obvious where you have come from, but, other than gaining you a lot of points at Scrabble, the name has been very difficult to pronounce let alone deliver on the need to project an image of a modern, forward-thinking organisation. AIS FPDC has served its purpose but the rebranding has become more urgent as time has passed. We act as one organisation and needed a name that reflected this, not something that clearly shows two joined together.

The new branding as FIS, therefore, is designed to show this new, forward-thinking, modern organisation that reflects a dynamic sector.

Branding is much more than a name and a badge to a trade association. We are unable to go on-site and do a great job in the same way that our members can. The impression the brand must instantly convey is that of a confident representative body that has the authority to speak on behalf of its members.

So what will FIS be doing over the coming months to represent the finishes and interiors sector?

Our focus is on skills, technical standards and building our community.

Skills will be supported through a new training portal that will make it easier for employers to source training and access grants. It will help us aggregate demand and in doing so make it viable to run courses that lack numbers. We aim to make the process of claiming grants easier, allowing members the time to focus on their business rather than filling out forms.

We will continue to develop apprenticeships that meet the needs of the industry and are attractive to young people, creating real career opportunities, not just a job. We will work on ways to extend the careers of those who can no longer carry out the physical demands of site work so that their experience and skills are not lost to the industry.

Technical standards impact upon everyone in the industry; if standards do not exist or need revising, we will undertake this work in cooperation with other bodies such as BSI. We will continue to develop best practice guides so that clients can understand what ‘good’ looks like and what they should be demanding and receiving. An adherence to standards helps everyone as we level the playing field, keeping our clients safe and happy with the finished article.

We will continue to build a community where our members can discuss and debate issues that are relevant to their business, network with suppliers and clients, and keep themselves up to date on changes to legislation or the market that will have impact on their work. Above all, we will help our members to discover that they are not alone in the issues that affect their sector. We aim to make access to information quick and simple, and that the information will be accurate and authoritative.

FIS will continue to represent the sector to government and other stakeholders. Already the additional strength brought about from the merger makes us able to be heard more effectively.

Here at FIS we recognise that the nature of the trade association is changing and that members’ time is precious. Yet in an increasingly complex and connected world, access to a single organisation that can provide knowledge that is interpreted and relevant to the sector, and to your business, is a tool of increasing value to your business.

Enjoy the spring – the finishes and interiors sector is on the up. Finally, a time to make hay while the sun shines.

David Frise
FIS chief executive