An exceptional year for LEEA

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An exceptional year for LEEA

Richard Money, Chair of the Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA), reflects on the Association’s incredible achievements during a year when the Covid-19 pandemic changed the agenda for everybody around the world.

Despite the immense challenges we have all faced in 2020, the Association has many positive things to report. LEEA had plans for 2020, which in February and March, were revised, and amended and in some places were simply put into deep freeze.

In the early stages of the pandemic, the LEEA Board and CEO were in close contact and worked together to ensure that the Association was match fit for whatever was to come.

We concentrated on ensuring that we fulfilled our core purposes.  We made a number of changes across the Association and determined to stay true to our organisational vision and purpose, albeit in a world we had never before experienced.

Consequently, since lockdown began in March, the LEEA team has:

  • Completed the e-learning suite of course meaning that all LEEA courses are now available online
  • Instituted a 25% price reduction for all training to support and protect our membership
  • Tested video conference-based training, amended, improved, and rolled it out.  It is now being delivered on the Zoom platform and from June until the end of August we have delivered to 283 students in 27 countries
  • Created online assessments using the same security protocols used by US Ivy League universities
  • Made the Huntingdon Centre Covid-19 compliant such that small classes began to be delivered on 3rd August 2020
  • Been accepted as an End Point Assessor Organisation for Apprenticeships in England
  • Conducted remote membership audits
  • Granted provisional membership to 26 New Members.
  • Fielded record numbers of technical enquiries and reduced the turnaround time from 2 working days to 2 working hours. Since 1st April we have dealt with 1,300 technical enquiries
  • Held 9 Technical Committee meetings and Working Groups and produced a further 5 guidance documents
  • Rearranged our showpiece events, LiftEx in Liverpool, LiftEx Middle East, and our Parliamentary Chairman’s Dinner
  • Received personal notice from Michael Gove MP relating to Covid-19 restrictions
  • Co-developed the Global Lifting Awareness Day with 3000 views of videos across our Facebook page and over 6000 views of videos across LinkedIn
  • Conducted a restructure of the team so that we are fit for the new normal
  • Ensured financial hygiene and budgetary balance
  • Had our Think Lifting videos made available with Arabic & Spanish subtitles.

 

In any time, this would be an impressive list of achievements, but over the past few months the team have pushed ahead and faced the challenges head on.

In addition to taking a pragmatic approach to delivery and supporting our members during Covid-19, the Board and senior team have been working on exciting plans for the future. 

LEEA has for years now, been a global Trade Association, but we can be better.  Our model and the support we deliver to our members can yet improve and we are very close to finalising plans for the future. They will require resource and investment, but we see a time in the near future where LEEA membership, LEEA audits and LEEA training, all happen across the globe in a variety of different languages and cultures.  And where the LEEA HQ in the UK serves as the LEEA hub supporting spokes across the world.

This is not a vanity project.  Global coverage leads to raised standards.  But truly worldwide coverage normalises working with LEEA members.  It helps us to win the argument over higher standards and inoculate against a race to the bottom in terms of price.

The Board sees no future for the Development member status.  Beginning this year, we have begun to not admit new members into that grade.  We have listened to members concerned about the perceived dilution of our membership and we have identified the Development grade as a challenge we need to address.

Consequently, new members can access the Association as Provisional members and will then move into the Full grade or Associate member grades if that better suits what they do and where they fit.  There will be no halfway house.  You are a member or you are not.

In 2021 we will prioritise moving Development members on in their progression.  Or else they will face the very real prospect of leaving the Association.  As a Board we understand the risks of this, but there are risks too in not acting – and we believe they are greater and more acute.

As we review progress against this approach throughout next year, as things stand, we expect to propose to the membership at AGM 2021 a formal change to Rule 17 meaning that we formally end the Development member grade.

We remain on a strong financial pathway.  We are a not-for-profit Association and we ask the team to deliver value to our members and to budget for a 5% surplus. This surplus means that we can ensure that the Association is in rude financial health, which allows us to invest in the future, but also protect against any unforeseen bumps in the road. It is worth noting that last year our turnover broke through the £3M level for the first time.  As a not-for-profit organisation, it is not about the money, but this indicates the increased impact and penetration we are having.

LEEA’s nature is that when its membership is affected, so too is the Association.  This means that the Association is currently operating at lower than budgeted levels of revenue.  But the team has cut the cloth accordingly. Key services are maintained and, in some cases, have received additional investment.  Overheads and non-essential expenditure have been closely managed.

Consequently, we are able to hold our membership fees constant for the 6th year in a row and we will maintain the 25% price reduction on training for the remainder of 2020. In addition, we are well placed to make the further investments I mentioned previously.

It is a time of changes for board personnel. This year we have welcomed Marcus Curry to the LEEA Board. We continue to carry some vacancies and invite members to express their interest in joining the Board.  The LEEA 2020 AGM in September marked the end of Ashley Thacker’s time on the Board representing the members of Australia and New Zealand. 

Ashley has been on the Board for 8 years and has been a forthright and constructive representative of his region.  I thank him for his service and look forward to working closely with Steve Flint who takes his place. We are grateful also to Austin Joseph for his service over the 7 years he has been on the Board and look forward to welcoming his replacement later in the year.

Finally, I would particularly wish to take this opportunity to thank two important groups of people: firstly the members of the LEEA Board for their support during this particularly difficult period.  As well as overseeing their own businesses, they have provided challenge and oversight to our Association and I am grateful for their efforts. Secondly, the LEEA team for their efforts. All the way through this period they have been looking to pivot and find new ways around problems.  I commend them for their work.

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