An Industry Connected: Adam Mason Marks 5th Anniversary

This month, Adam Mason celebrates five years as Director General at ceda and to mark the occasion, the organisation is looking back at the highlights and all that has been achieved during this exciting period.

Derek Maher, current ceda Chairman, commented, “One by one, the aims of Adam’s five year plan have been steadily achieved through his skills of listening, communication, determination and gentle persuasion. The Catering Equipment Industry is quite complex, but despite being an outsider to it, he quickly grasped an understanding of how it was all held together and has now gained the respect of all those who have dealt with him. Adam continues to move the boundaries and raise the level of respect for the Catering Equipment Industry.”

In the five year period, one of the greatest changes, Adam believes, has been the shift in culture, of which he is particularly proud. He said, “It was clear that we as an organisation needed to better communicate with our Members and that our Members needed to better engage with us and indeed with one another. We needed to dispel the idea of the Association as an ‘Old Boys Club’ and demonstrate that we were a proactive, commercially minded, industry-leading organisation that was a force for positivity. Over the past five years we have made considerable progress. We now communicate and engage with end-users and operators across all areas of the industry and have a far more public-facing approach to communication.”

Major new initiatives include the introduction of the ceda Academy. Previously, ceda only communicated with and listened to senior executives of Member companies. The ceda Academy was launched to address this imbalance and is aimed at individuals under 30 who have been highlighted by their employers as the future of the catering and foodservice industry. The goal was for the organisation to better understand and recognise the thoughts and opinions of these younger individuals.

The Academy now meets twice a year, once at Conference and once at a Supplier or Manufacturer facility. These meetings immerse the Academy members in the heart of the industry and allow them to gain practical hands-on experience, knowledge and training.

Commenting on the success of the ceda Academy, Paul Holder, Service Manager at Court Catering, said “I was lucky enough to be involved with the ceda Academy from its inception back in 2015. It not only highlights the great importance of the youth of our industry but also showcases so many different skill sets from the individuals who partake in the Academy. Adam has been the one constant in its lifetime and whilst he has let the Academy develop into a wonderful initiative, this would not have succeeded without his personal involvement. The ceda Academy was not only an opportunity for myself to shine, it led to my nomination and subsequent winning of the ceda Rising Star Award. After 3 years within the Academy I felt my time was served and I have now positioned one of my members of staff into the Academy for their own development, myself moving onto the ceda technical steering group.”

Sally Medina, Senior Designer at IFSE, added, “On our annual sessions we get to share our industry experience and to raise the issues we’re faced with, individually and as a team, focusing on short and long term learning models that will help to resolve them effectively. The outcome has been beneficial and visible in the way I personally interact with my colleagues. We’re looking forward to a wider learning experience as a member of the Academy.”

Prior to Adam’s arrival, ceda, alongside other industry bodies, had already made positive moves in creating a Masters Degree and various industry-specific CPD courses. These initiatives were aimed at certain levels of employee, carried a cost and required significant time away from the day job. ceda therefore sought to better understand the needs of its Membership to establish a form of learning, education and development which would benefit every single member of staff within every Member company. It was agreed that solutions were required to be flexible, low cost, with minimal time away from the office. It also needed to be both generic for some skills yet industry specific for others. As a result of their consultations, ceda developed and invested in a new E-Learning Platform in order to make CPD-accredited learning materials on over 100 topics available free of charge to every member of staff within every ceda Member company.

ceda also expanded its own training programme by implementing BIM classroom courses and is currently in the process of launching a new education initiative, cedaLED, about which more information will soon be available. ceda has also facilitated a group of Members to create an Apprenticeship standard for a Commercial Catering Equipment Technician which has been approved and is in the marketplace for the Industry to utilise.

Paul Neville, Managing Director of CHR Equipment Ltd and a ceda Board member, has been impressed by the manner in which ceda’s Members have embraced the need for learning, education and development, enthusing, “To improve our businesses we need the ability to continually educate and develop our teams in practical and cost effective ways. For us at CHR, the CEDA E-Learning modules have helped us to introduce new team members into our industry and to brush up our skill sets. The more in-depth classroom course like BIM have allowed our design managers to communicate professional to professional in order to embrace and improve the systems we have in place. Having a mixed initiative allows members to continually develop staff, improve skills over a wide range of subjects and disciplines at very low cost to the business adds real value to us and the membership.”

Last, but by no means least of the developments in the past five years, the organisation has undergone a complete rebrand and repositioning in terms of its marketing and messaging. It was clear that ‘Catering Equipment Distributor’ did not do justice to the wide range of skills, knowledge, professionalism and ability of ceda Members, who are specialists in design, projects and equipment.

After extensive research, within all areas of the industry, a completely new brand and message was launched in 2017. “Connecting Our Industry” remains the key aim of ceda and is now at the heart of all communications and fully reflects that key function that all ceda members perform so admirably across all sectors of the industry.

Through increased use of digital platforms and videography, ceda have in many areas become industry leaders.

Gary Young, Creative Director at Creation ADM, who led the rebrand and repositioning, said, “For an organisation that represented more than £650million worth of business, the outward image really gave no clue as to the importance of their members’ key role in the success of thousands of outstanding establishments across the UK. Now the industry looks to ceda for leadership and guidance.”

ceda hopes that the next five years and beyond will be just as successful for the organisation as a raft of exciting new initiatives that were announced at this year’s conference are now launching.

Jack Sharkey, former ceda Chairman and Managing Director at Vision Commercial Kitchens, stated ‘’It’s fair to say, the association has gone through a major transformation over the last five years; its leadership, communication with members, its education programme and the benefits to members make it unrecognisable from where it was.

The association has become a true voice of our industry and is truly representative of its members. The association’s long-term strategic objectives will continue to see it evolve and bring additional representation and benefits to its members. The future of the association is very exciting.’’

And the final word to Mason, who reflects on his tenure to date; “I have been very fortunate to have worked with Board members and a staff who have been incredibly supportive and open to developing. But ultimately it is the membership itself that has facilitated change. Whether it is involvement in groups focussed on developing an Apprenticeship standard, responding to consultations, supporting fellow Members when they make enquiries or embracing the new initiatives that we launch, ceda is an organisation that is made of its Members and delivering for the Industry. We have so much more to come and with the continued support of the ceda family. I very much look forward to delivering further positive change.”