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Trade associations: Delivering benefits to members

21 July 2014

It is essential that the UK government continues to do everything necessary to establish a competitive business environment that ensures both manufacturers and businesses see Britain as the most attractive country for investing and re-shoring. The British Compressed Air Society (BCAS), UK technical trade association for the compressed air and vacuum industry, continues to campaign to make this happen and represents its members’ interests in future European legislation, as Chris Dee, executive di

The continued success of manufacturing is critical in building a modern economy. UK manufacturers are ambitious in their relentless search for new growth opportunities, whether through the introduction of new products and services, by expanding new supply chains or, through exporting to faster growing and new markets. They invest in their people, innovate and drive continuous improvements in productivity and competitiveness.

Belonging to a trade association should be an aspiration for every business, in every sector.

To be part of the body that sets the standards in an industry is an attractive proposition as it enables members to deliver significant benefits to their customers, which non-members cannot provide. Trade body members will have been vetted, will have signed up to a code of practice and will have access to and knowledge of all relevant standards.

An example of the impact that trade associations can have in driving through legislation and standards for the benefit of the UK economy can be seen through the work of the Trade Association Forum. The Heseltine report: ‘No Stone Unturned in Pursuit of Growth’ was published in October 2012.  Lord Heseltine conducted the review at the request of Government and published his report with the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills 

The aim of the report was to inject sustainability into the economy, create the conditions for growth and maximise the performance of the UK. The report supported the work of the Trade Association Forum and set out three clear recommendations, which were subsequently accepted by Government. Progress has already been made, most notably in ‘Recommendation 66 ‘ which defines that an updated code of practice should be developed and that compliance with the Code should be a condition for membership of the Trade Association Forum.

The Code aims to set out the ethical and other standards that a modern trade association should apply and it is designed to complement rather than replace any existing codes of practice or conduct, which are applicable to specific sectors, organisations or groups.

BCAS is proud to be a member of the Trade Association Forum and to comply with its code of practice for trade associations.

As a result, today’s BCAS members are:

•  Outward looking – The value of goods exported increased between 2003 and 2013

•  Investing in people – More than half the member companies will increase their training budgets in the next two years

•  Innovative – Three quarters of member companies plan to export to new markets in the next three years

•  Committed to energy reduction – Two thirds of member companies are investing in energy efficiency to reduce their carbon footprint

Members of BCAS also play an important role across the UK’s various manufacturing sectors such as:

Aerospace industry

Employs over 100,000 people with a revenue of £12.4bn of which, 75% of turnover goes into export markets and enjoys 17% global market share

Automotive industry

Typically a £55bn annual turnover employing 720,000 people across the industry. Some 140,000 people are directly employed in manufacturing the 2.6 million cars that were registered in the UK in 2013. In addition there are 2350 automotive suppliers in the UK, employing 82,000 people.

Chemical industry

£60bn revenue in 2012 with 600,000 people currently employed in the industry, representing 15% of UK manufacturing Gross Value Added.

Construction industry

1 in 14 of the UK workforce is employed in construction representing nearly two million people. The industry provides 88,000 new job opportunities yearly.

Defence industry

A £35bn annual UK turnover and the world’s second biggest defence exporter behind the USA. About 9000 defence companies, including small businesses, exist in the UK employing 300,000 people. About 10% of UK manufacturing is made up by defence activities.

Electronics industry

Worth £78bn a year and is the world’s fifth largest in terms of production. Employs more than 850,000 people in the UK and is home to 40% of Europe’s semiconductor design houses.

Food & drink industry

The UK’s largest manufacturer with a turnover of £76bn in 2012, employing 400,000 workers.  Accounts for 15% of all UK manufacturing Gross Value Added. 

Plastics industry

Turnover of £19bn with 7500 companies in the sector employing 180,000 people.  Produces 2.5m tonnes of plastics’ materials annually, of which 35% of manufactured plastics products exported.

British steel industry

Contributed £2.9bn to the UK balance of trade in 2011. More waste steel is recovered in the UK and recycled than all other materials combined. Each tonne of scrap recycled by the industry saves 1.9t of iron ore and 0.6 tonnes of coal

Textile industry

Comprises over 79,000 businesses, employing more than 340,000 people. Gross value added for the sector in the UK is estimated at more than £11.5bn.



So why should businesses try to cram into their already hectic schedules membership of an industry association or other professional organisation? The reason I believe they should is because membership of such an association will keep them up-to-date with important, ever-changing issues, trends and legislation within their marketplace.


It is a fact that is backed up by the Petroleum Energy Institute which claims that about 85% of all business failures occur in firms that are not members of their trade association.


Many professionals believe the greatest benefit of membership association is the networking opportunities it can provide.

In particular, there is the chance to influence legislation and make a positive contribution in areas that will directly impact on business success.


I believe the British Compressed Air Society is a must join for everyone involved in compressed air and vacuum. We help our members and, importantly, protect their customers by:

•  Setting high professional standards for the industry through our membership criteria and the BCAS code of practice

•  Raising standards in the industry, by giving clear professional advice

•  Providing an independent alternative dispute resolution service in the unlikely event that something goes wrong

•  Lobbying government at local, national and European level to ensure that the industry and importantly, the customer, get a fair deal.

In addition, our recently launched initiative, ‘Insist on BCAS - Be Compliant And Safe’ scheme, aims to make processes that use compressed air compliant, safe, more efficient and ultimately more profitable.  It includes a free associate membership that will provide UK end user companies using a BCAS member with a whole host of benefits, including discounts on training and publications, as well as access to compressed air guidelines and the society’s networking events.

Benefits of BCAS membership typically include; opportunities to preside in leadership roles within associations; subscriptions to newsletters and magazines; access to seminars, conferences and association events; access to member-only offers, training and industry updates among many others.

Membership of BCAS not only benefits employees. It also projects a positive image to customers, demonstrating a business’s initiative, its engagement in a particular trade and its commitment to staying abreast of current developments in the market.  

However to benefit fully, I recommend that members participate and be actively involved. Paying your annual membership fees alone isn’t enough to reap the benefits of association membership.  You must also make an investment of time and effort in association activities and become involved. Simply put, what you get out of association membership is directly relative to what you put in.


Free end-user membership scheme

From the 1st July 2014, the British Compressed Air Society is offering end-user customers (including in any of those sectors listed above) of current BCAS members free associate membership for 12 months – worth £975.

Membership of BCAS continues to grow as companies see the many benefits and value of belonging to their industry trade association. As the association reaches its 85th anniversary there are almost 200 members comprising: 51% distributors; 34% manufacturers; and 15% Others (associate, affiliate, international and individual members).