State of SPESA

By Michael McDonald

SPESA President Michael McDonald addressed attendees at the SPESA Business Meeting October 30, 2020, following SPESA’s Virtual Executive Conference. This is a modified transcript of his speech. You can also watch Michael's address below.


“I’ve come to wrap up this last year in one word. I could talk about the struggles, because Covid sucks and 2020 has not been fun. But what I would rather focus on and the one word that I think really describes this past year is pride.


I am proud of what we have done this past year. I am proud of what my team has done. I think everybody here can know that this event would not have run as smoothly as it did if it were just up to me. So, I am proud of what we were able to accomplish, what my team was able to accomplish with our conference, our outreach, and our ongoing webinars and other activities.


I am proud of Nina, our Chairwoman. I am proud of our Board. We have had several emergency meetings in the past few months discussing Texprocess Americas, discussing coronavirus, discussing its impact on the industry and the association, and we’ve adapted. Obviously, we would have loved to see everybody in Atlanta this summer (for Texprocess Americas), but we were able to adapt in a way that not a lot of associations could. I am proud of the work our Board was able to do to keep us going.


I am proud of our membership. We were expecting a lot of struggle within our membership, and there is no doubt that our industry struggled, but our members were resilient.


I am proud of our industry. We were called to task. The entire industry was called to task with PPE (personal protective equipment), with really stepping up to the plate, and we did. It was heartwarming to see what individual companies made happen, working together, building relationships; what associations did, coming together to share resources. It could have been a lot worse. But we are resilient. So, I am proud of everything the industry achieved.


If you are listening to this meeting, you’ve done good. You’ve made the best of the situation that was put in front of us. In a year for which there is no precedent — because I refuse to say unprecedented year anymore, I’ve heard it too many times — we made the best of what 2020 had to offer.


With that being said, this is SPESA’s 30thanniversary. SPESA is 30 years old and that is a big milestone. For us to be able to be as resilient as we were this year attests to the foundation on which SPESA was built. Our strength didn’t all come from what we have done this year, it was also what came before us and what we were able to build on.


That is what a lot of this year was focused on. When we relaunched Behind the Seams, it was successful because Behind the Seams was already a respected publication. It was a widespread publication, we have a very large readership across the sewn products industry. I am proud of what we have been able to do to improve Behind the Seams, how it looks now, and what we can do to continue to build it, make it better and stronger. That is only possible because of its strong foundation.


We were able to do a lot of virtual events this year, whether they were simple happy hours or webinars with our partners at SEAMS or VDMA, our German partner. We were able to engage people and groups across the industry and within the SPESA membership. We want to continue these.


We have learned a lot this year. And while I can’t wait for some of the standards, the live trade shows and events to return, there is a lot of what we’ve done this year that we will carry forward. We learned a lot from this conference and we look forward to being able to continue to do virtual events in some capacity. There will always be a place for these to continue to work as well.


I am proud of what we accomplished this year, but I am more excited about what we will accomplish next year.


We want to make sure that SPESA continues to be a resource for our members, that we continue to provide the content that our members want, whether that is live trade shows; virtual conferences; webinars; written, digital, recorded interviews. We want to hear from our members about how we can best engage you and create the resources that are best for you.”



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