CICA President’s report: Collaboration through passion

“Collaboration” and “Industry Passion” are two key CICA values on permanent display at our annual conference. This year, the crane industry came to life in NSW’s Hunter Valley region during October as the conference was hosted with a theme celebrating “40 Years On”. It was 40 years since the inaugural conference at Broadbeach on the Gold Coast in 1979. Remarkably, we were blessed with a handful of attendees in 2019 who attended way back then, and they showed just as much charisma as I’m sure they did at the very first event all those years ago.

This year’s program was first class, with 420 delegates at the Crown Plaza conference centre being the perfect backdrop to keep everything and everyone close by. It’s a great convenience for our annual conferences to have a crane display so close to the event, allowing all to admire some new acquisitions by local hirers.

I would like to congratulate Jeff Wilson, the NSW chair, and his conference committee, along with the CICA office and the staff of Wise Connections for delivering a fabulous event in a boutique wine region without compromising any facet of the program.

The conference program opened with a keynote address, and we were all intrigued by Kurt Fearnley and particularly inspired by his determination to live such a full life, despite his physical disability. The conference hall and technical information sessions were exceptionally professional, well attended and, at times, inspirational. I would like to make particular mention to the manufacturers panel and crane owners’ panel, which have become feature conference events. And for those of you who saw the session dedicated to cyber fraud, I know you are still looking over your shoulder now as it was revealed how our personal data and locations are constantly tracked and recorded via our smartphones.

As a way of celebrating this year’s theme of “40 Years On”, the conference added a further night on the program. Traditionally, the major manufacturers would use this night as an opportunity to attract clients to an exclusive event. This year, however, we had all delegates at the perfect venue to celebrate the theme, complete with line dancing and whip cracking. I was absolutely impressed by this night and hope it is something we can build on for future conferences.

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For some of us, the conference began with the CICA Annual General Meeting (AGM) where we delivered a comprehensive President’s Report and CEO’s Report detailing the financial position of the association. Further information focussing on the many number of programs delivering member benefits throughout the industry, supported and funded by CICA were also presented and discussed at the AGM. For those that missed this session, the information is available on the members-only section on the CICA website under “Resources: Members Documents” in the Members Portal. If you are missing your company’s login details, give the CICA office a call and they will be sure to help out.

Annually, a portion of the board is dissolved, and nominees are called upon to form a new board with the continuing directors. Our constitution governs that every year, three or four (alternately) of the seven elected board members are up for election, as well as any board appointed directors. This year, we received four nominations for the available three board positions.

With our reduced number of elected directors now at a maximum of seven, we regularly see more nominations than positions. Although it is disappointing that not all those willing to contribute will be elected, it is great for our association to have a level of competitiveness to gain a directorship role on the CICA board.

I’d like to congratulate our board members who were successful in being re-elected.  In alphabetical order, Andrew Esquilant, Marcus Ferrari, and myself (Tom Smith) have all retained a board position. The remainder of the board are continuing to serve the second year of their two-year terms. These directors are; Geoff Bevan (re-elected as vice-president), Danny Black, John Gillespie and Bart Sutherland.

Further, I would like to congratulate Ben Pieyre for being appointed by the board as an eighth director. Ben returns to the board after a 12-month absence overseas and is a welcome addition as we strive to further improve our industry programs.

Our association is benefiting from a dedicated team of volunteers on the CICA board. There are dozens of years of experience in serving as CICA directors among the eight representatives, and all are unified in making continuous industry improvements to the benefit
of our members.

I was nominated and re-elected by the board as CICA president for the second year.  It is certainly very humbling to be extended such an endorsement from the CICA board and I certainly look forward to further contributing in the role. With such an abundance of experience on our board, with two past presidents still presiding as directors, I take comfort in the resources I have around me as we all work together with our CEO, Brandon Hitch, to further develop our industry programs.

Many of us still working together at CICA have witnessed the CrewSafe program develop from a board room concept to its current form. It is our vision to deliver a “safe and progressive crane industry”. This program epitomises this vision and has gained national recognition as CICA was awarded the “Best WHS Training Program” for CrewSafe at the 27th Annual National Safety Awards of Excellence. This type of recognition is well deserved as I have the utmost confidence in this program. CrewSafe is poised to deliver us a far more advanced and improved method to verify competence by holding accountable those who are licensed and claim they are competent, to prove they are competent.

Finally, I’d like to mention how enjoyable and uplifting this year’s Gala Awards Dinner was. We had around 450 attendees greeted firstly with drinks and canapes on the lawn before entering the formal dining area. The atmosphere inside was very relaxing and fit perfectly with the entire feel of the conference.

I’d like to congratulate our “Excellence Award” winners being Marcus Rigney, Steve Gonano and Chris Kolodziej. Thank you again for your contributions because you have all worked tirelessly to improve our industry and we are all grateful for your continued effort.

And a special congratulations is reserved for this year’s inductee to the CICA “Hall of Fame”, Jeff Wilson. Jeff has contributed over many years to CICA through the NSW committee, has been a CICA director, and is the current NSW branch chair. Thank you, Jeff and we all welcome you alongside fine company in the Hall of Fame.

Congratulations to all award winners, and again, thank you to all who pledged an entry adding to the depth of quality our industry hirers put forward annually to our marquee event.

We all look forward to the WA conference committee delivering a fabulous conference next year in the newly constructed Perth convention centre.

Goodbye for now and have a safe New Year.