‘We’re there for all our members, big and small’

The newly appointed Eumabois President, Mr. Juergen Koeppel, recently had an in-depth interaction with Ms. Doris Bauer of Mobelfertigung magazine in Germany. Eumabois is the European confederation of manufacturers of woodworking machinery. Although several topics were discussed, here is a summary of the most significant ones:

Mr. Koeppel, in the previous term you were Vice-President, now you have taken the top position within Eumabois. What’s the key driver for your new role within the federation?

It’s the opportunity to represent some 850 companies worldwide. Besides that, I can have an influence and get things moving for companies. For instance, there are decisions to be made in Brussels. On a political level, there is quite a lot of academic discussion.

An example is the topic of sustainability at machine level: sometimes decisions are made that definitely sound good, but then they turn out to be very hard to implement. In such cases, it may be sensible to involve as many companies as possible and collect their requirements. Eumabois is perfectly fit for this task.

It is always difficult for companies alone to tackle specific issues. We have a very effective approach to a large number of companies from different national associations in Europe. No matter if it’s about political issues that involve our business or the definition of technical standards.

What’s the main reason why you accepted to step up from Vice-President to President?

The main reason for me was that the Vice-President standing next to me is an operating figure, and even the rest of the board is comprised of persons who have operating roles in the daily business of their companies. When it comes to consulting activities and markets, we can all offer our expertise and bring different points of view about various topics.

We have succeeded in covering all board positions with this approach. For instance, since September I have been working very closely with Vice-President Luigi De Vito, who is the Managing Director of SCM Group’s woodworking machinery division.

What’s the mission of Eumabois?

Before I took over the role of Vice-President, Eumabois activities to me were mainly focused on the international exhibition calendar, as well as on specific exhibitions that the federation promotes to support their growth. One of my ambitions was to maximise the effectiveness of this action, in order to improve how the federation presents itself and what it stands for.

Apart from exhibition-related activity – which is definitely important – Eumabois is a loudspeaker for its members in several areas, from DIN standards to customs regulations.

What’s the most important task of the federation, in your opinion?

Definitely, consulting for its members. That’s why I cannot understand why sometimes smaller companies say: “This association is not for me”. Exactly those companies that often don’t have the resources to carry out expensive analysis and surveys, whereas the community of an association can do that and actually does so.

In my position at Homag Group, for instance, I turned to the German association VDMA to get reliable information about a specific market. And even for the association it was difficult to make resources available to collect such market information.

Imagine a small manufacturer considering the possibility to produce in China in order to increase its competitiveness: where can they get industry-specific market information other than from their national association or Eumabois?

Is there anything you would like to change?

An important task of the association is to collect useful information, such as import and export figures, revenues and similar data. These figures are generated by the associations of each country and flow into a common data platform at Eumabois, so that we can have a clear picture at the end.

Statistical structures are partially outdated, as machines have changed a lot, for instance. In this case it would be useful to update the classification. Of course we have identified a few key activities, which we formulated last November, so that we can bring them forward together.

The awareness and knowledge of external events is one example. I like to make a comparison with the European Union: why has ‘Brexit’ happened? Because, in the end, there was little discussion about the positive sides of the European community, while the negative aspects became more and more visible. In this respect, we want to carry out a stronger marketing action.

Another topic on our agenda is the Code of Conduct. In some member associations such rules were introduced long ago, but not in others. We want to identify the core concepts centrally, to be used then by our member associations. 

Are you getting additional benefits from your exhibition activity?

There are basically two key benefits, both for exhibitors. On one side, single companies from national associations can participate in collective booths and do not need to organise their participation completely on their own.

Also, member associations do not need to set up a small booth on their own. Instead they can show up more attractively as an association under the umbrella of Eumabois. We are developing and expanding these options and we believe they will be appreciated.

This strategy would also provide each company with an attractive “remote” point of contact at the Eumabois collective booth. Active companies recognise each other and are happy to exchange views and opinions in foreign markets.

We want to expand this type of initiatives in the future: at Ligna-2015, Euambois promoted the creation of a real “federation marketplace” where exhibitors and visitors could meet. We want to apply this concept to other exhibitions.

Which part of the association’s work at European level do you value most?

We have to be aware of our role in the global scenario. There is hardly any other region in the world that can set standards. If you consider a Big Europe with a strong expansion to East, this will generate not only trends, but also standards.

Such an agile federation will bring benefits to smaller businesses, not just to the big brands. We must keep this concept very clear in our mind. With such a forward-looking concept, business will become certainly much better.

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