GAI presses Fast Forward at AGM

More than 120 people attended the 2015 AGM and conference in May at Tortworth Court, Gloucestershire. The AGM itself achieved record attendance levels and was a great opportunity for  members to find out about the Guild’s latest developments, while bringing together the industry’s key players from both the manufacturing and distribution sectors.

As always the event set out to strike a balance of business and pleasure, with some delegates enjoying a round of golf on the Friday afternoon, and many more joining a BBQ on the Friday evening. The BBQ was held in the magnificent Orangery and provided a great opportunity to meet with colleagues, customers and friends, old and new, in a relaxed setting.

Saturday’s proceedings kicked off with the AGM and business session where the theme of ‘Fast Forward’ was evident throughout.

John Jefferies, the outgoing President, gave the opening address which summarised the huge progress made by the Guild over the previous 12 months. “Our primary focus over the year has been to undertake a strategic business review, followed by a structured and costed implementation plan that was ratified by the GAI Executive,” he said. “It’s been an extremely busy year, but I’m  convinced our approach will make the GAI a stronger organisation.”

Gary Amer, chief executive of the GAI, provided a detailed report to members on the fast moving developments at the GAI in its three strategic pillars of education, technical and community, including significant staff appointments and a highly successful new marketing and PR campaign. He also reported on the developments to create the GAI Education Hub, a transformational initiative which brings all of the GAI’s education programme content online. It is being developed to provide the future solution for industry CPD, not just the Diploma, Gary explained. The Hub is due for launch in the autumn.

David Stacey, the treasurer for 2014/15, presented the Annual Report to members and flagged up highlights in the GAI’s finances, including a healthy growth in membership subscriptions, the continued popularity of its JobShop service, and strong financial reserves. He also thanked the many event sponsors who have supported the GAI’s community activities through the year.

Following the inaugural address by the new President, Maria Powell gave her presentation.

Richard Noble OBE entertained delegates with an adrenalin-fuelled story of the world land speed record attempts over many years and the latest endeavours of Bloodhound SSC which aims to break the record once again and achieve top speeds in excess of 1,000 mph.

The Bloodhound SSC (SuperSonic Car) has just announced that it will make its world debut on 17 November 2015 with a 200mph trial at Newquay Aerohub, Cornwall. The car will then be fitted with airbrakes and winglets ready to commence high-speed testing in Hakskeen Pan, South Africa, in summer 2016, when weather conditions will be optimal. Results from these tests will then inform the land speed record attempt. However, this project is not just about speed and breaking records. The ‘Fast Forward’ theme of the GAI event took on a much more poignant meaning when Richard Noble explained how Bloodhound, and projects like it, can help address the chronic skills shortages in the industry. He showed how it is also about inspiring the next generation to pursue careers in STEM subjects by engaging them in an open and fascinating project, which sets out to achieve the seemingly impossible. The project reaches out to more than 100,000 school children every year.

Bloodhound SSC was “an unreasonable and disruptive aerospace and education company,” explained Noble. He provided members with excellent insights into what attracted young people and captured the public interest, as well as how Bloodhound gained the political support it required, and how they overcame problems with getting media coverage for what was otherwise seen as too technical for mainstream audiences.

Once the AGM formalities and speeches were concluded, on the Saturday afternoon, delegates enjoyed the glorious weather and a range of outdoor activities which included rage buggies, air rifles, scavenger hunt and chocolate making.

The weekend was rounded off by a black tie gala dinner, where presentations were awarded to the winners of the day’s activities and concluded with dancing and more competitive spirit between guests as the giant scalextric and F1 simulator were unveiled.

Julian Newman, managing director of Oxford Ironmongery, said: “The GAI AGM is a fantastic way to meet with peers to exchange ideas and news and to talk through issues. Our industry is so diverse that the opportunities to get together are rare. GAI events present unique opportunities to talk about our respective businesses and the challenges we face in a friendly and social, but ultimately highly professional, environment.”

He added, “The highlight for me was Richard Noble’s presentation – it was absolutely fascinating. As an added bonus I have been subsequently discussing his AI requirements with him!”

Martin Prichard, Weldit’s managing director, also found the day highly beneficial. “The success of my business is primarily down to our relationships with customers and suppliers and the GAI AGM lets me get together with them in a business-focussed but relaxed environment,” he said. “Attending these events is also a great way to keep informed about the GAI’s progress and its plans or the future. I really enjoyed listening to the extremely inspirational Richard Noble but the whole  weekend was magnificent. It was the best GAI event I’ve been to.”

The GAI thanks its AGM sponsors:

Lorient, Royde & Tucker, CES, ASSA ABLOY, GEZE, UAP, Allegion, Dorma, Exova, KABA, Leaderflush Shapland Laidlaw, Weldit, Carlisle Brass, Codelocks, Em-B, Frelan Hardware, HOPPE, Instinct Hardware, izé and Oxford Ironmongery.