It was a pleasure to host our FIS Awards Lunch – my first as FIS president – at the Dorchester last month and to welcome our guests, President of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry (AWCI) Ed Sellers, executive vice president and CEO Steve Etkin, and board member Alfons-Jean Knauf.

An event such as this is a time for our sector to come together, to meet with our clients and suppliers, and to talk with like-minded professionals. The Awards Lunch provided a chance to celebrate what excellence looks like in our sector and an opportunity to acknowledge individuals and organisations who make a difference and enhance our businesses and our lives.

It also provided an opportunity for me as President to update our sector on some of the key strategic developments taking place at FIS.

Our current strategy sits under three banners of Skills, Technical and Community and is developing very well.

The bold decision to invest in our Skills team has reaped huge rewards, resulting in a substantial funding partnership being agreed with CITB earlier this year. This will enable us to drive the skills agenda and help address the lack of qualified tradespeople working and the numbers of new entrants entering our sector.

Our technical projects and initiatives are also raising the profile of FIS. A cultural change is coming, brought about by the tragic events at Grenfell Tower. We welcome Dame Judith Hackitt’s report as this reflects the same values as FIS, raising standards and ensuring the quality and traceability of systems and installations.

In particular, her comments resonate that the sector needs to ensure that compliance is not a maximum to aim for but a minimum to be exceeded. And also that industry needs to do more to provide clear evidence that installations are compliantly installed as systems, by fully trained and competent operatives. We have responded to the report on our members’ behalf and hope to meet with her soon.

Our third strategic pillar is Community. FIS provides a platform for our sector’s members and stakeholders to come together to share ideas and knowledge, whether face to face at events or through social media, technical meetings and other forums. These activities and opportunities to meet and engage are valued by us all, and so the FIS team continues to develop ideas and seek improvements to create the right forums and events to enable our sector to network and get value from their community.

Andrew Smith,
FIS President
OWA (UK), Joint managing director – Sales & Marketing