What's Happening
BMA President's Speech
Published on February 10, 2010 by BMEX
This year we celebrate the 28th Anniversary of BMEX. A lot has changed over the years, the name of the exhibition, the format, the standard, the faces and business behind the show. However, there is one key component which has remained constant and which we believe will not change in the foreseeable future; that is the primary, single objective of BMEX – to provide exposure and networking opportunities for manufacturers while propelling the growth and development of local manufacturing. The BMA’s commitment to excellence in manufacturing will also remain unchanged for decades to come.

The development of the sector is undoubtedly a partnership effort. A partnership which will best succeed on a platform of shared vision, shared accountability and an unwavering commitment to excellence. We often say it takes two hands to clap, this reflects the synergistic nature of the manufacturing relationship. When we pool our resources, share our best practices and support each other we become a cohesive force that drives our national economy and one to be reckoned with internationally.

The benefits to be gained by all include employment, economic stability, career development and an increase in personal and national wealth. Undoubtedly manufacturing is a crucial part of our economic development and stability and must be recognized for its contribution. There is still a lot of work to be done, we still need to foster stronger ties within the sector and help perpetuate the mantra of Buying Bajan first, each time and every time.

Moving forward our success will be tied to our ability to innovate. Our theme this year challenges us as manufacturers and the public at large to recognize, respect and acknowledge the need for, and the value of, manufacturing. We have witnessed several improvements in our manufacturing operations -- Improved technologies, enhanced business processes, and greater design and marketing capabilities. We as manufacturers must continue to prepare ourselves to compete locally and in world markets.

On this score, and as an aside, it was interesting to note the comments in the editorial column of one of the local newspapers earlier this week, basically to the effect that there had been little or no follow-up to trade missions organized by the BMA and the BIDC in international markets. This, of course, is far from the truth, and only a little research would have found that local manufacturers have and still are making progress in both the regional CARICOM and non- CARICOM markets. This, I might add, despite there being a global recession whereby these markets have been just as badly affected as the Barbados market, maybe even more so.

Not only is there follow-up to trade missions, but manufacturers have also set out on their own to establish their products in these markets. Exporting is extremely difficult, and is not assisted by the lack of any worthwhile surface shipping operations in the region, but despite these difficulties, progress continues to be made.

As far as Dubai is concerned, this is a case where one of our members who had been working assiduously with a potential distributor, approached the BMA not only for our assistance, but to ensure that the interest shown by this distributor (a Caribbean national living in the United Arab Emirates) in specific food and beverage products was satisfied not only to his own benefit but to that of other manufacturers who continue to export and make substantial inroads in North America and the UK.

It is often difficult to plan for the future without consideration of our past. There were many successes for BMEX 2009 but one initiative which contributed to a different experience both for patrons and exhibitors was the introduction of Student Volunteers. At a time when so many negatives are being hurled at our nation’s youth it was refreshing to experience the excitement, competence and professionalism that these young people brought to the exhibition. The attitude demonstrated was commendable and their cooperation faultless; they have already been calling - eager to return.

Over the years we have recognized that exhibitors often experience challenges managing their stations and could use additional support. The Student Volunteer initiative was designed to create added value for our exhibitors and our patrons. We are therefore pleased to advise that they will be back again this year and that we will be exploring additional avenues to ensure that our exhibitors have maximum benefit from their investment.

One component of BMEX which has definitely changed over the years is the cost of producing what is now a national event. An exhibition like this has its own inherent cost, and our efforts to accommodate as many small and medium sized enterprises as possible result in additional cost. Sponsorship and diverse partnerships have however been instrumental in bridging the financial gap. Cognizant of budgetary constraints in various organizations, this year we have added a new dimension to our sponsorship programme and this is in-kind sponsorship. This provides the opportunity for sponsors and potential sponsors to contribute needed products and services without the outlay of direct cash. For those whose operation could better embrace this model we are very happy to develop this type of relationship. As our environment changes we too have to adjust and adapt to safeguard our future and the sustainability of the sector.

In the upcoming months we will need to work closely together to ensure an even better BMEX in 2010. This is not a BMA event; it is a National event by manufacturers for manufacturers and for Barbados. We look forward to having you on board and to exceeding your expectations at BMEX 2010 – I now leave you with the challenge to Innovate, Design, Manufacture!

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