ceda's memcom award nominations!

ceda has been shortlisted for not one, but two, memcom membership excellence awards 2021.

memcom is the hub that connects senior leaders from membership organisations to collaborate, innovate and share best practice. ceda has been recognised in the “Best Member Support During Covid-19 (under 50 employees)” and “Best Educational Membership Event” (for The Digital Event 04.03.21.) categories.

Whilst delighted with the award nominations, it’s not lost on ceda Director General Adam Mason that both are as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that has been so detrimental to the industry in which ceda serves. “The award nominations are bittersweet,” Admits Mason. “I’m so proud of the work, support, initiatives, and training we offered our members, and the wider industry, particularly during the early stages, and throughout the entire pandemic. For a small team of 1 full time and 2 part-time employees, we achieved an awful lot.

“Similarly, The Digital Event we held in March of this year was born of the desire to engage, inspire and celebrate the membership and our industry, as we would ordinarily do at our physical annual Conference. We didn’t want the pandemic to be a reason not to do it, and so we embraced the digital conferencing platform and the new opportunities and elements it brought.

“Whilst our members, and the industry at large, will live with the effects of COVID-19 for many years to come, we felt it important to seek the positives from the crisis and demonstrate all we’ve done to support our members through these challenging times. We feel our applications and subsequent nominations in the memcom awards do just that.”

During the initial months of lockdown in the Spring of 2020, ceda were in regular contact and communication with operator sector associations, providing them with information, data and statistics to allow them to demonstrate the full facts of the economic impact on the equipment industry and to influence policy making and decisions.

ceda led a coming together of four organisations in the catering equipment distribution sector to best represent and state the case for the industry to Government. This was in addition to ceda’s own independent efforts which involved writing to Ministers, liaising with Government departments and producing template letters for Members to send to their local MPs.

From an operational point of view, those in the industry needed to understand where and how they could continue to operate at various stages of the pandemic. Very early on, ceda were able to secure key worker status for installation and maintenance engineers that were operating in essential kitchens and produced template letters for them to carry on a daily basis. ceda issued sector-specific guidance notes from the various generic documentation that came out from Government and the construction industry at various stages of the pandemic, to ensure that those who had to operate could do so in as safe a way as possible, and in line with Government guidance.

The introduction of an Emergency HR Support Service was hugely valuable to Members and something that ceda introduced at the end of March 2020. ceda engaged with an external consultant to provide direct and individual Member support and guidance, deliver webinars, as well as producing various guidance documents and template letters.

There were a number of areas where ceda’s focus was very sector-specific, particularly relating to technical support. They produced many documents, as well as circulating several more produced from other sources, all relating to technical matters with Covid-19. The most well received and widely shared document in the industry was an interactive title that ceda produced “Minimising Risk from Covid-19 when reopening a commercial kitchen”. This also worked as a sales/marketing tool for ceda members to generate business opportunities.

ceda’s future focus was also evident in ensuring the continuation of the industry apprenticeship scheme that was launched at the end of 2020. Moving all apprentices to remote learning so that they could continue the programme despite lockdown.

ceda’s focus on people during the pandemic has been significant. They moved quickly to set up communication channels between people and provide content for people. A private Linkedin group was established in March 2020, and is still used today, for members to interact with each other, and a more informal but equally important WhatsApp group was also set up. These two contained over 300 people working within Member companies the vast majority of which were furloughed and potentially feeling disconnected.

Zoom was also embraced as a communication and networking channel to bring the membership together to talk, listen, learn and communicate. ceda held its first ever Zoom webinar on the 26th March 2020 and over the course of the next four months delivered 84. In addition, probably the most valuable webinars were the weekly ‘Members Connected’ sessions where ceda updated Members on the latest information and news and discussed their individual challenges together as a group. All webinars were open to every member of staff within every Member company, even those on furlough, and attracted over 1100 attendees.

On Thursday 11th June, following the announcement of a high number of redundancies from non-member companies in the industry, ceda launched cedaRetain – an initiative to link those industry professionals who were made redundant from their current role due to the pandemic with potential future employers. The fear being that many highly skilled, talented and experienced people within the industry would be lost to other sectors. Individuals registered with cedaRetain and created a short profile of themselves and the type of work that they were looking for which were then listed and distributed to companies in the sector that were interested in recruitment. In addition, ceda opened up its webinar sessions and e-learning platform for these individuals to use in order to maintain links and knowledge. In 2020, cedaRetain had 43 people register with the scheme and 32 were retained within the industry – and people are still finding employment through the initiative even now.

ceda have held an annual, in-person conference for 47 years. In March 2021, for the first time ever, they went digital.

A one-day, virtual event that brought together an incredible line-up of speakers, exhibitors, designers, catering equipment distributors, manufacturers and suppliers, food service operators, trade media and more, and ignited optimism and positivity in the sector after the most challenging 12 months.

Of the event Mason says, “Having spent the previous 12 months fighting to save businesses, jobs and retain talent in our sector, the primary objective of our digital event was to bring together the industry, with the end of lockdown in sight, in order to network, connect and learn.”

Despite it being ceda’s first venture into the virtual event world, they were determined to create a day that best mirrored the look, feel and atmosphere of the annual ceda Conference. Not just a Zoom or Teams gathering but a professional and interactive event that the membership and wider industry would derive a huge amount of value from.

ceda worked in partnership with their longstanding event management company to build and develop the conference on the Pheedloop platform that allowed for live segment streaming, an “exhibition hall” and comprehensive networking capabilities (private, public chats; live presence detectors and group networking sessions) for exhibitors, sponsors and attendees to network together, as well as delivering the ceda Grand Prix awards ceremony.

The usual annual ceda Conference attracts circa 300 people over a two-day event. 478 people joined the one-day Digital Event, nearly 50 of which were from hospitality and food service operators!

Mason says proudly, “The Digital Event surpassed all expectations, objectives and targets and, whilst born out of necessity, has provided a blueprint to deliver future events of a similar, or hybrid, kind. We were the first association in our sector to host such an event which is innovative in itself but following the great successes that we achieved, I feel sure we won’t be the last.”

“Because of the way we conducted and adapted ourselves throughout the pandemic and the opportunities we saw in technology to still host our annual conference, we feel we have every chance of success at the awards in September,” continues Mason. “The Membership has been kind in its words of feedback, support and praise telling us that we have saved jobs, saved businesses and retained talent in the industry as a direct result of our actions, outputs and response. We hope the judges will recognise this and we’ll be victorious on the night!”

A memcom source said “The memcom excellence awards 2021 received 25% more entries than last year and the quality and standard was very high. In a year when the membership sector has really excelled, the judges had to make some incredibly difficult decisions so extra congratulations on making the shortlist!”

The award winners will be announced on Thursday 30th September.

The full shortlist can be viewed here.