The Canadian Fluid Power Association strives to further the fluid power industry, and during 51 weeks of the year, we focus on education, market insight, fluid power careers and industry cooperation. But over a few days in the late spring, we mix it up with our peers in a mosaic of business, networking and straight up fun. Our Annual General Meeting is known for its dynamic combination of keynote speakers, good laughs, bad golf and a drink or two for good measure.
This year, from May 31-June 1, we found ourselves at Deerhurst Resort in spectacular Huntsville, Ontario. The unique carvings of the Canadian Shied make for breathtaking rock formations, seemingly surrounded on every side by lakes, islands and wind-swept pines. Bisecting the world famous 30,000 islands of Georgian Bay to the West and Algonquin Park to the East, Huntsville is picturesque cottage country home to Ontario’s vacation playground.
Day one started with a round of golf, which lasts just through lunchtime. After the delegates settled in and (mostly) changed their attire, we got down to business typical of any association board of directors meeting. Although most business is related to the basic tasks required to run the association, there were some changes to the board worthy of mention. Due to the recent and sudden resignation of long-time CFPA chairperson, John Lamb, his seat was to be filled.
Frank Pirri, Flodraulic Sales & Product Manager, as well as current Director of Education, was filling in as interim chairperson. With a unanimous vote, Pirri was elected as permanent CFPA chair, which now leaves his seat in Education open. The association has been without a vice-chair for some time, but running for the position was Caryes Allan, Vice President of Higginson Equipment, with seats on multiple CFPA committees. Just as with Pirri, Allan was unanimously voted in, and she now sits as the vice-chair of the CFPA. Also voted to the board of directors was Kevin O’Doherty, business development manager at Sunsource.
The CFPA encourages professional development, which is why we always have a great mix of keynote speakers to inspire, educate and enlighten. Leading off the lineup on Thursday was Gary Gzik, the energetic CEO of BizXcel, who moved us with his presentation, “Legendary Leaders.” Second up was Denise Wecker-Seipke of BSI. Her words and slides were calling for economic and social responsibility from us, recommending we put risk management a priority at our companies to reduce both accidents and economic risk.
The cool weather didn’t stop us from having our excellent lunch BBQ, although it did push it indoors. After the meal, Eaton economist, Joseph McKenna showed us myriad market data and trends, backing up what many of us already felt; we’ve turned the corner, and sunnier days are upon us. Although not every market is flourishing, machinery is excelling, which is where much of the fluid power components our members make and sell are destined to.
Rounding out day two was Goran Tesanovic, who relayed the challenges faced when he pioneered the push for Industry 4.0, which brings together traditional automation with digital platforms. Seneca College is now a Canadian leader in the push for adapting new technologies, which has resulted in new government funding and recent ground-breaking on the Mechatronics Simulation and Demonstration Centre, pioneered by Tesanovic. Day two continued outside the conference room, with a mixology lesson sponsored by Higginson Equipment. The delegates and guests teamed up, and with equal parts experience and chance, put together a series of cocktails ranging from warm and soothing to icy and refreshing. Afterwards, we gathered for a fine multi-course dinner in the grand Deerhurst Eclipse dining room.
The next morning back at the conference, our day started with Festo’s Ben Hope, and his inspiring presentation on Industry 4.0, which is both awesome and scary, depending on your generation and preparedness. The future is certainly a connected one, and it’s clear the fluid power industry should be innovators, not laggards.
Paul Heney, the very same Editorial Director from this Design World/Fluid Power World made a fantastic pitch to convince the mostly Baby Boomers in attendance that social media isn’t just for their kids. With humour and visual aids, he made the clear case that businesses don’t make money on social media, but rather, social media points visitors to where businesses do make money.
We ended the last day with a business lunch, feeling satisfied both intellectually and gastronomically. Next year we will visit the Thousand Islands region for our AGM, splitting the difference between Toronto and Montreal. If you haven’t had the opportunity, I highly suggest you attend our famous Annual General Meeting, or any of our other fantastic events, for that matter.