Chris Ellison, managing director of the UK’s OPM (Labels & Packaging), has been elected as the new president of Finat, the European labeling association based in The Netherlands, and declared the main agenda of his presidency.

Finat president Chris Ellison

Replacing outgoing president Thomas Hagmaier, managing director of Hagmaier Etiketten in Germany, Ellison has over 30 years of industry experience and a personal history of business development and innovation. He will be supported by newly-elected vice president Francesc Egea of Spain’s IPE Innovaciones.

At the Finat general assembly, Aydin Okay of Turkey’s Canpas was re-elected to the Finat board, while newly elected board members are Ilkka Yilipoti of Auraprint and Günther Dieroff of Benelli. Dow’s Alex Knott has been appointed technical committee representative and Chris Jones of Alphasonics as Finat YMC representative.

Departing the Finat board are Kurt Walker, Isidore Leiser, Marc Büttgenbach, Sean Duffy and Dana Kilarska.

‘It’s a massive honor to be elected president,’ commented Ellison. ‘Packaging and labeling production is one of the most sustainable industries of all, because it continually replenishes itself – always reflecting changing market needs and fashion trends in a youthful way. That’s why I’m particularly passionate about Finat’s current focus on recruiting young people into the business.

‘As the founders of the original small, often family-owned, label companies are now beginning to take retirement, we’re facing a real skills shortage that we need to address right now. I know this is a great industry to work in – lively, challenging and rewarding – and I’m keen to promote it as the attractive career proposition it is, but I’m also well aware that today we’re competing with many other seductive “techno” options, so it’s a top agenda item for me to have Finat promote the labels and printed packaging production sector as a clean, lean career choice today.’

At his own local level, Ellison is committed to establishing a stronger link between Finat and the UK’s BPIF Labels, ‘in view of the possible implications of Brexit,’ said Ellison.

Ellison said the advent of new technologies across the whole industry brings its own challenges, impacting the entire make-up of a participant company’s systems. ‘I will be strongly supporting development of the technology website Finat has recently created, which continually brings members up-to-the-minute expert information on key areas. It’s important to do this, because the pace of technology change in print is getting faster and faster, and equipment model cycles shorter. Not only that, leading-edge equipment today demands huge investment – yet margins are tighter, customers want extended payment lead times, and we need to think about changing direction with what we produce from just a simple “label” to including new offerings like shrink sleeves, in-mold labels and flexible packaging. That’s what brand owners want, and Industry 4.0 for sure means that we all have to become more competitive in our relations with our customers – to be able to keep, and grow, our business.’

‘To meet those challenging requirements, we’ve really got to become more competitive and customize our internal business systems to achieve optimal efficiencies,’ he continued. ‘Success means a continuous program of innovation and new thinking, and the support of an international association like Finat can make all the difference. You can’t grow your business if you don’t grow your people, and I get a huge amount of satisfaction out of watching staff grow in confidence and professionalism.

‘I believe Finat can really help us change – how we should be thinking, in terms of adding value, technology, recruiting young people. Supporting the label industry national associations, Finat underlines the international nature of our industry now, which today features a very complex remit – so we have to be as mobile as we possibly can.

‘Fast forward, that’s the main agenda I’ll be addressing during my presidency,’ concluded Ellison.