Previous Executive Board reappointed as the new Board: Ludger Schindler (MeisterWerke), Martin Prager (Kronotex), Ralf Eisermann (Sonae/Tarkett) and Dr. Theo Smet (Unilin) were all unanimously re-elected for a further two years at the EPLF’s General Members’ Conference, hosted in Wales by Alveo. And a new mandate was given to both of the colleagues in charge of the EPLF Working Groups, Ralf Eisermann for Market + Image and Dr. Theo Smet for Technology, who were also adopted as ex-officio members of the Executive Board. Johannes Schulte (MeisterWerke) was once again elected as the Association's cash auditor.
At its meeting in Wales, the Marketing Working Group re-named itself and is now known as the Market + Image Working Group. Behind this decision is the Working Group’s aim to focus in future more sharply on marketing strategy within the Working Group for its program of activities and to promote the image of laminate flooring among end users and retailers. The Market and Image Working Group is planning a whole range of new projects centered on communications with end users, as well as giving attention to interfacing with architects and designers. As an example of this new perspective, a proposal for the EPLF to be represented at the “contractworld 2007” show is currently under consideration. An assessment of the EPLF’s internal sales figures across the Association for the first two quarters of 2006 provided a positive indicator for results over the whole of the current fiscal year, with member companies expressing their extreme satisfaction with the results from the first half of the year.
And there’s also news from EPLF's Technology Working Group. Experts on the Working Group have been working continuously at ISO level on the development of an internationally uniform standard for laminate flooring and can now announce that several standards have now been adopted in respect of specific product features. These include, for example, issues such as “traction on mechanical contact, impact resistance, swelling behavior in reaction to moisture ingress, surface abrasion resistance, effect of climatic changes and pressure resistance towards furniture feet and wheelchairs”. The Technology Working Group hasn't just been active on the international stage - it's also been busy among our European neighbors. For example, the EPLF is working closely with a British organization, providing vital support for their "Underlay materials and footstep soundproofing” campaign. The EPLF’s Fitting Guidelines have been extremely well-received and will be available as a second edition at the end of the year.
CE standard to be introduced January 1, 2007
The Technology Working Group also announced at the Wales conference that the CE mark for EN 14041-compliant laminate floorings would come into force from January 1, 2007. This European standard for the harmonization of flexible coverings, textiles and laminate floorings aims to provide for minimum quality standards in terms of environmentally friendly products and product safety for laminate floorings.
As well as the wide and varied range of tasks undertaken by the working groups, the emphasis at EPLF conferences is on providing specific information from within the industry for the benefit of member companies. This year, the Wales conference offered two presentations of interest to companies in supporting their product development and marketing activities. Dr. Leonhard Oberascher, graduate designer and color psychologist, spoke on the topic of "The Psychology of the Home – present and future". He took as his thesis: “Here in Europe, we need to rediscover the floor as a living space, e.g. for play, for work, for relaxation and for love.” In a culture which rarely comes into contact with its floors, there are a number of creative design ideas available, of which manufacturers of laminate flooring would do well to take advantage.
A contrasting view was offered by Prof. Harro von Senger, Sinologist at the University of Freiburg, whose book “The 36 Strategems for Business” is a bestseller in commercial circles. The book contains an account of the tricks and ruses (the so-called strategems) successfully employed in China for centuries and offers new perspectives for managers in Europe for doing business in China and other markets as well. Prof. von Senger’s presentation provoked wide interest and sparked a great deal of inspiration. For example, the thought-provoking Strategem 20: “Muddying the waters to catch fish (which are then unable to see clearly)" or Strategem 26: "Scold the acacia, (but in doing so) point to the mulberry bush.”
An evening at Caldicot Castle
With all the serious business and fascinating issues to be discussed in Wales, there was still time for a little socializing. Alveo had laid on an entertaining evening at Caldicot Castle near Cardiff, with a lusty feast, complete with traditional Welsh costume and medieval court music. A truly sumptuous evening of revelry that will be long-remembered.
The next EPLF Members’ Conference will be held at the end of May 2007 and hosted by Schattdecor in Thansau/Rosenheim. Even though the conference program is still being developed, it will certainly be an event to look forward to.