Dear colleagues, dear friends, 

When you read these lines, we will be four short weeks away from our Global Congress in Las Vegas. I am sure that this will become a most memorable event for each and everyone participating, and for many different reasons. For me personally, it will mark the end of my year in office as your President. 

This letter is not about summing up that year – there are still a number of things I want to conclude and drive in the coming weeks, and I will report on the year in our General Assembly on the Wednesday in Vegas. 

But in preparing for November, with the UFI team, I want to use my last column in this space to share three things: One request, one observation, and one expectation.  

To start with the request: DO make sure that YOU will be at the Congress and join us in person – and if you can, also bring one colleague who has never been to the event. We are on track to have one of our biggest Congresses in UFI’s almost 100-year history. From the content to the networking, the UFI team is pulling out all the stops. And our hosts – the LVCVA as well as MGM as well as everyone involved in “Team Vegas” – are really playing an amazing part in making sure you will have a truly unique time – even if you have been in Vegas many times before. 

On to my observation: Our industry is evolving, as is the role of industry associations. I have personally been engaged in UFI for more than 20 years of my professional career. I can speak with authority when I say that our association is where it is today because it works FOR our industry, instead of just being IN our industry. Associations are as strong as their members are active. UFI is built on the willingness – even eagerness – of many colleagues, both from Boardroom and Showroom level, to engage, to support, to be a part of UFI. Right now, we are about the finalise the selection of the next UFI Board, and I see it continuing this tradition. Let me thank every single one of you who is giving time and resource to UFI – and let me as well welcome all the new members who are joining our association to become a part of this community! We are more than ever, we are bigger than ever. 

Last not least, my expectation: UFI is set up in a way that must automatically ensure that members from all regions are represented in our leadership bodies, and this happens through the chapters. I have been one of the founders of the first chapter outside of Europe a very long time ago. Originally called the “Asia/Pacific and Middle East and Africa Chapter”. As membership in Middle East/Africa grew, this has long since been split into two chapters – Asia-Pacific and MEA, ensuring both regions are systemically represented in UFI’s governing bodies. In the run-up to our first Congress in North America since 1972, I believe it is time to give this region proper and systemic representation as well, by giving our members in the countries across North America a designated chapter. I have discussed this extensively with my colleagues in the trio and the Executive Committee, and we will finalise our plans to share them with you at the General Assembly in Vegas. 

Once again – I hope to see you in Las Vegas, to end the “UFI year” together, and with substance as well as in style.