FEIBP Congress 2019 – Lucerne, Switzerland – Brush Expert Report

More than 110 delegates from 58 companies covering 12 countries attended this year’s FEIBP (European Brushware Federation) Congress held in Lucerne, Switzerland from 26 – 28th September 2019.  This fun loving, touristic, picturesque city with breath-taking scenery of mountains and lakes was ideally situated for this event.

Registration took place on Wednesday with the now-customary golf tournament being played nearby. In the evening, all delegates present were invited to a welcome aperitif in the Penthouse bar with exceptional views that looked out toward the mountain range; Pilatus being the highest.

The following day the Congress was officially opened. Peter Langenegger, FEIBP President, welcomed all delegates and international visitors to the 61st congress and explained the full programme that was ahead for them and their partners.

He introduced Scott Enchelmaier, President of ABMA, (American Brush Manufacturers Association) to give his address. On behalf of the ABMA and his wife, Scott thanked Peter and the FEIBP members for his invitation and warm welcome. He expressed his eagerness in participating in the extensive programme of meetings, Working Groups and seminars, especially the talk due to take place “Generation Y to Z: Our Future”.

He affirmed that whether it was the challenges of recruiting, training and retaining employees or the product liability issues relating to California Proposition 65, there was much common ground between the ABMA and the FEIBP. He stated that the more we force the cooperation between both Associations, the better off we will all be. There is a need to do things together in the global brush industry in all areas. “We are stronger together than we are apart”.

He encouraged all international members to attend the 103rd ABMA convention in Florida, between March 4th– 7th at St Petersburg, Florida.  The theme of which is ‘2020 Vision for the Future’. For those non international FEIBP members, he encouraged all to consider joining the American Association.  He explained that the dates have been brought forward to allow as many as possible to participate in both the ABMA and Interbrush events.  He reassured the delegates that, what with the format and the value of learning from networking with fellow brush manufacturers and suppliers being similar to that of the FEIBP’s own Congress, the visit to its US counterpart would be well worth the trip. He closed by wishing all a very good Congress.

Daniel Strowitzki of FWTM/Messe Freiburg GmbH gave details of the forthcoming Interbrush, to be held next year from 06 – 08 May 2020. There will again be the official opening on 5th May, the night before the exhibition doors open, in the old part of town early in the evening, and there will again be a reception at the end of the first day for all exhibitors and members of the ABMA, FEIBP and the German Brush Association.

This year’s FEIBP Innovation Award nominees were then given time to explain their inventions with the help of videos or visuals. First to present was Max Zeintl of Smartfilaments AG with his Ski Wax Brush using Intelligent Filaments together with ski wax produced by Toko, to improve the performance of ski professionals.

Then followed Piet van Erp of Van Dam’s Kwastenfabriek BV. He introduced his new double brush. This brush system showed the round brush for normal surfaces and, within its centre, was a thin fitch brush that would slide up for using on window frames and cutting-in jobs.

Peter Langenegger of Ebnat AG then showed his own company’s baby bottle cleaning brush.  This brush uses very soft bristles and is flexible enough that it will reach every part of the bottle, as well as the teat, with its own stand for storage.

Last up was Arndt Stollberg of Wistoba Pinselfabrik GmbH & Co AG, explaining their V12 Concept for both synthetic and bristle paintbrushes using a drilling and filling system; no epoxy resin.

The Professional Hygiene Brush, Personal Care Brush, Paintbrush and Technical Brush Working Groups ran for the rest of the morning. Some very important issues were discussed in each of them and, in some, presentations were given by suppliers of components and machinery.

After a delicious lunch, the delegates assembled for the interesting talk given by Prof. Dr. Sita Mazumder entitled “Generation Y – Z – Our Future”. She outlined the vast differences showing themselves to companies that, for the first time in history, now have five generations in the workforce and also in the marketplace.  This creates opportunities, yet companies are highly challenged with generations management. She covered the different strategies that maybe work for all and then, again some work for one, yet not another.  Her talk held the audience and was very well received.

Following directly on from Dr Sita was Rudolf R A Greger, a design thinking coach who gave a talk on “Using Design Thinking to Cope with the Coming Challenges”. His speech coupled very well with that of Dr Sita, giving many examples of how design plays an important part in the lives of the next generation. “What counts today”, he suggested, “is the right experience; design in the broadest sense. Strictly speaking, it is the way designers think that should be used for a better approach to the customer of the future. The extensive use of design makes the difference today and only those who understand design as a cross functional discipline will win in the future!” His talk was very interesting and, with his slides, was also entertaining.
Following lunch, the delegates reassembled and took part in action groups, working on a set of questions that provoked the mind into seeing the world through the eyes of Generation Y and Z. All who participated learned a lot from the experience and found it very useful.

The Thursday dinner was held at the Stadtkeller Restaurant in the old town area near the lake. This old venue is very popular with tourists from all countries and had a very exciting entertainment programme of all things Swiss.

The meal started with a typical fondu followed by veal. The entertainment was truly mountain Swiss, with accordion playing, flag waving, small, medium and large horn blowing, yodelling, cow bell ringing and of course, broom playing! Audience participation was encouraged, which included some from our own group. A lively, loud exciting night was enjoyed by everyone! Visit the Image Gallery for pictures.

Friday began with the important event; the Brush Forum, where suppliers and machine makers showed their products from the many tables in the main meeting room. The table-top display was supported by many visitors where, reportedly, much successful business was conducted.

After a coffee break, there followed the General Assembly where Peter Langenegger opened the meeting and explained the ‘fox hunt’ event organised for delegates in the afternoon.
Fons Ceelaert, General Manager of the FEIBP, outlined the agenda for the General Assembly and firstly introduced the Working Group reports.

Alessandro Acquaderni of SIT, Italy, on behalf of the Technical Brush Working Group, told of the very interesting discussions on the EM1083 proposal for technical and power brushes. This includes the making of a new safety leaflet to provide information about the use and safe working of their products for customers. New this year their delegates were offered short elevator reports by some machinery and suppliers; one company took this literally.

In the absence of Piet van Erp, od Van Dam’s Kwastenfabriek BV, who chaired the Paintbrush Working Group, Fons Ceelaert gave his report. Fons stated that this group was well-attended and had discussed the education programme for decorating apprentices. They discussed the differences in finding the right workforce in this generation where rural areas are a major concern.

The question of the continuing situation in the change-over from bristle to synthetics was also touched upon. Sustainability was discussed; looking at the overall composition of products to determine whether they could be deemed sustainable. It was shown If companies want to promote their European brushes, they will have to add specific arguments to buy a paintbrush ‘made by an FEIBP member’.

Finally, it was noted that the professional markets and professional retailers seemed to be well supported by European manufacturers and that this area has a secure future.

Hygiene Brushes was next up with Philip Coward, chair of this Working Group giving his report. Unique to this group, Phillip said, was that they held a mid-year group in London; this being necessary as there are so many items to cover. They discussed the standards that applied to professional hygiene brushes and found that many standards quoted in the charter had been superseded. However, they have been through that in detail and a new list will be coming out soon along with the amendments to the EU directives that have been published. Fons will try to find an organisation that will be able to warn the Professional Hygiene Group when amendments and changes to standards have been made, as it is problematic to keep up with them all through the year. 

There were discussions regarding how to promote the Charter further with the usage of the registered trademark and possibly company logos joined in some way. A link to Philip's PHB Working Group report appears at the bottom of this article.

Following the Working Groups, the Market Reports on the various raw materials used in brush manufacturing were covered by leading suppliers to the industry.

Urte Rietdorf from Freidrich Platt gave her overview on vegetable fibres, including availability and price changes of the many products grown in specific places around the world. She mentioned the extreme weather changes in some areas had a huge effect, while other fibres in safer areas are continuing well and prices are steady.

Reinhold Hoerz, of DKSH, spoke for bristles, telling of the extreme changes in the bristle making process and the fact that the Chinese changes in the use of water and the release of water in rivers and canals has made a huge difference in availability. Overall, bristle is in low demand and low supply.

Mark Samuel of Mark Samuel Trading gave his report for fine hair stating that, like bristle, many custom-made brush retailers have made the change from natural hair to synthetics which has affected price changes. However, in recent months, the number of craftsmen and professional users that still insist on natural hairbrushes, is increasing. Natural hair is still available, and prices remain high.

Andrew McIlroy of Perlon GmbH opened his review on synthetic filaments explaining that none of his filaments are used in either paintbrushes or makeup brushes.  As opposed to last year when there were increased prices and good availability, particularly in the nylon family 6.10, 6.6, 6.12, this year’s story was totally different he said. Already there are fears about a recession with negative growth, with consumer spending down, especially in the car industry, and times were becoming hard. Less raw material, the trade war between China and the States continues and, of course, Brexit leads to uncertainty among manufacturers and end-users that ultimately drives what happens in global demand.

Links to the various Market Report presentations will be posted at the bottom of this article as they become available.

Fons then took the stand and gave his address to the delegates. He went over elements of the previous two days and enthusiastically expounded on the health and success of brushware industry. Following his opening address, he gave his Annual Report of the 60th Congress 2018, summarizing the sights, sounds and delicious tastes of the beautiful city of Bordeaux. He especially thanked Daniele Quimper and Pierre Simler for their expert organisation of that superb event. He also thanked Suzanna Acquaderni for arranging the Celebration picture book that marked the event. He covered the increase in membership and the rise in interest in the Working Groups and thanked the Chairs for their organisation. “Next year, Prague,” he said, “with the same dates”.  This beautiful central European city will be the setting for the last Congress for President, Peter Langenegger who will complete his two years term of office before handing it over to Andrew McIlroy, of Perlon GmbH who has already started to make plans for the 62nd congress.

He mentioned also the major 4-yearly event in Freiburg; Interbrush.  He repeated that the FEIBP will join with the ABMA and the German Association on the stand in the centre of the entrance area for all members to come and gain information, which will be freely available.  The Reception will be held on the first night after close of the exhibition hosted by the FEIBP and the ABMA and Messe Freiburg; open to all members and exhibitors.
Finally, Fons thanked Peter Langenegger and Peter Brunner, his right hand, for their expertise in organising such a wonderful Congress and helping us all in feeling at home in the exciting city of Lucerne.

Andrea Acquaderni then, FEIBP Treasurer, read through the accounts explaining the ups and downs that are usual and the forecast for next year.

Andrew followed with a presentation video of the city of Prague and the Grandior Hotel where the Congress will be held and explained the agenda that sounded very exciting and whetted everyone’s appetite to join in next year. All details will be shown on the FEIBP Congress website as they become apparent.

The afternoon was spent on a ‘Fox Hunting’ trail, walking through the old centre of Lucerne, seeing the lovely lake and the Chapel Bridge, looking for ‘The Lion’. The one to bring back the most interesting picture of the lion would win the prize! This lion was carved into the rock next to the glacier park showing the uncovered, fascinating view of the bed of the ancient glacier that flowed through Lucerne during the ice age. The huge fossilised boulders that were found in the potholes, clearly showed the vegetation and shells that they had collected along the way. A very interesting place to visit.

Fons asked for any other business and questions of which there was just one about the website. Peter pledged to make the corrections and Alessandro stated the stats. There had been a 25 to 35% increase in visitor flow since last year that shows interest in the site. Also, 8,500 page views made by 1,500 unique visitors.

President, Peter Langenegger, then formally closed the meetings of the Congress, showed the route to The Lion and explained that the most exciting or funny picture of The Lion would win a prize that was to be announced at the Gala dinner along with the winner of the Innovation Awards.

The Gala Dinner was ‘black tie’ and all looked a picture as they got on the bus to meet the boat to take them across the lake to Vitznau where the dinner was to be held in the famous 5 star hotel and restaurant, the Park Hotel. The boat trip was ideal for the aperitif, to sit and sip fine wine and to look out at the lights across the lake. Upon arrival, the guests were suitably impressed at the grandeur of the impressive Park Hotel, fully lit up at the top of a large flight of steps through the entrance garden. The guests were given a welcome from two men in the lit garden playing music on huge long alpine horns.

Once all had entered the hotel, they were directed to sit at large round tables when a suitably grand dinner was served.  After dinner was finished, the winning ‘Lion’ picture was announced; two babies in buggies, fast asleep in front of the carving with the caption – ‘The lion sleeps tonight’.

For the first time ever, the FEIBP’s Innovation award was shared by two companies, having received the same number of votes. The joint winners were asked to come forward to collect their trophies. The awards went to Wistoba Pinselfabrik of Germany and to Van Dam’s Kwastenfabriek BV of Holland; both very innovative paint brushes. Full details of all nominated products can be found via the links below:

Please take the time to look through the images in the Image Gallery and remind yourselves of the wonderful 61st congress which will be hard to follow.

Josie Wadd, Brush Expert Ltd

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