Image Above: John Agnew, GGF President
The Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF) annual Members’ Day conference held on 26 September at Hilton Olympia in Kensington, was hailed a great success by GGF senior staff, Members and Board directors.
With a record number of Member companies in attendance, over 100 delegates witnessed presentations from four leading voices from the fenestration, construction, politics and energy sectors.
John Agnew, GGF President, welcomed all in attendance and opened the conference with GGF Annual General Meeting (AGM), at which all Members unanimously approved the 2018 accounts (which showed an increase of £278k in Members’ funds’) and also re-elected the Federation’s financial auditors and bankers.
The next Annual General Meeting of GGF Members will take place in September 2020.
The AGM was followed by an outline from John Agnew as he addressed the key areas where the GGF will focus its activities in the future and highlighted the Federation’s extremely strong position not just financially, but also as the trade body leading the way on the technical front and as the voice to Government, on major topics such as changes to building regulations, fire safety, skills and training and energy efficiency.
Proceedings then moved on to the keynote presentations and a welcome to Kevin Schofield, Editor of Politics Home who shared his sharp insights on the uncertain world of today’s politics. In his speech, Kevin (who’s covered politics at Westminster for 11 years) commented that he’s never known the House of Commons to be as toxic and divisive as it is at present.
The next presentation from Andrew Warren also proved to be insightful, as he highlighted the problems of Government addressing climate change and the need for greater energy efficiency in construction. Andrew also raised the unfairness of the current rate of 20% vat on glass and glazing energy-saving products and on the installation of windows and doors as an energy-saving measure. In his speech, he explained how the UK government has always said the VAT banding was a European Union decision and out of their hands, but pointed out that this will no longer be an excuse for the Government once the UK leaves the European Union.
Anda Gregory, Managing Director, GGF Commercial delivered an update on the progress of the GGF’s subsidiary companies (FENSA, BFRC, GGFI, RISA and Borough IT) and gave an airing of the FENSA TV advert which has captured the interest of many in the industry, as well as tens of millions of homeowners in the UK.
Fire safety and the imminent changes to building regulations were the next topics to be presented by Peter Capelhorn, Chief Executive of Constructions Products Association. Peter delivered a chronology of events leading up to the Government Inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy and the subsequent Hackitt Review and Report. In his presentation, Peter highlighted how all in the construction industry must brace themselves for real change in culture, responsibility and process as well as regulatory changes.
Following the presentations, Members of the GGF Board took to the stage to take questions directly from the membership. Moderated by Kevin Schofield, the questions fielded, ranged from the GGF’s governance, finance, technical resource and training. The panel consisted of John Agnew, GGF President, Mark Austin, Vice President, David Thornton, Chair of the GGF Home Improvement Executive, Tony Smith of the Glazing Executive and Steve Rice, GGF Managing Director.
Members of the panel praised the GGF staff for the outstanding services they have seamlessly delivered throughout the past few years of change.
On his role as Moderator, Kevin Schofield commented, “The open forum went very well and in particular I think GGF members enjoyed the opportunity to ask the Board members about the organisation’s plans for the future.”
After the forum, the day ended on a lighter note with two special awards. Firstly to RITEC International for their outstanding contribution to the industry. John Agnew presented the award and in his speech mentioned that RITEC were the innovators and pioneers of glass surface modification with their ground-breaking non-stick liquid solution that protects glass surfaces and enables glass to clean itself.
RITEC’s founders and current owners, Stephen and Karen Byers went on stage to receive the accolade. On accepting the award Stephen was at first lost for words and could only say in his inimitable Texan accent; “Wow!”, before thanking the GGF for the award and for the support he has received from both the Federation and Members over the last three decades.
Then it was the turn of the Flat Glass Manufacturer’s Association, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The GGF recognised the FGMA for its outstanding service to the industry.
Michael Butterick, Chair of FGMA commented, “It was a great surprise and much appreciated. I was happy to accept the award as the FGMA has supported and worked with the GGF since its foundation.”
Closing remarks for the day came from GGF Vice-President, Mark Austin, who will take on the mantle of the GGF Presidency in 2020. Mark thanked the delegates for attending and the staff for organising a great event, however most importantly were two key announcements in his speech.
Firstly, Mark announced that the GGF will hold a new event called The Chairperson’s Forum, in London on 4th February 2020, to bring all the Chairs of GGF groups, committees, executives and Board members together to discuss all things GGF.
Secondly, Mark announced that on the late afternoon (3.30pm to 6.30pm) of the 4th February the GGF will hold the President’s Reception in London with all Members invited.