03/12/2019 – A point of view — auf Deutsch lesen

Centre of Excellence for Textiles and Solar Protection

New times, new strategies. The ‘Centre of Excellence for Textiles and Solar Protection’ in Wuppertal has brought three industry associations together under a single roof.


Stronger together! From left: Martin Auerbach, Chief Executive of Heimtex; Ottmar Ihling (Alfred Apelt GmbH) Chair of the Heimtex Federation; Ingo Fahl (ifasol GmbH) Chair of ViS; Thomas Busskamp (EuroComfort Group) Chair of the Mattress Association © Heimtex


Martin Auerbach, Chief Executive of the German Home Textiles Federation (Verband der Deutschen Heimtextilien-Industrie e.V.) © Verband der Deutschen Heimtextilien-Industrie


“Nothing is as constant as change,” as the Greek philosopher Heraclitus is supposed to have stated, as long ago as 500 BC. And yet even change has altered since then, becoming ever faster and still accelerating. It is a factor affecting German industry, too, which finds itself in the midst of technological and strategic upheaval.

Since the start of the year, the ‘Centre of Excellence for Textiles and Solar Protection’ in Wuppertal has brought three industry associations together under a single roof, offering its members not just equivalent but actually improved services with pioneering solutions, even as market conditions continue to change.

Changing conditions also mean a constant stream of new demands on the trade associations, whose work reflects the current situation in business and in society. At the start it consisted primarily of exchanges of information between member companies but then new roles were regularly added, including for example the development of consistent sector standards and, increasingly, individual services.

Today there is a demand to service the entire spectrum.

Networking, advocacy and support in everyday business matters. Ensuring the availability of this broad spectrum of services, expanding available skills, being able to react in a flexible manner – all of these are challenges in the work of the modern trade association, and they demand new strategies. For trade organisations too, in the light of shrinking industries and hence reducing numbers of participants in the sector, the scope to expand by attracting new members is limited. The recently created Textile and Solar Protection network in Wuppertal is a response to these developments and to the related needs of participating industries. Alongside the German Home Textiles Federation (Heimtex) and the Federation of Visual and Solar Protection (ViS), the third member of the federation is the Mattress Industry Trade Association (Fachverband Matratzen-Industrie). Together, these represent the interests of some 150 member companies in total.

Ottmar Ihling, Chair of Heimtex:

“With this strategic partnership, we’re making the core competencies of the three federations accessible to all, and bundling together the available resources by staging, for example, joint industry events.” Information from the different viewpoints held by the various industry participants is brought together in Wuppertal, allowing them to look beyond narrow industry boundaries and providing a learning network that can cut across individual sectors.

Thomas Busskamp, Chair of the Mattress Association:

“In this way, we can provide better support for our membership than any one of the federations alone.” And yet for all the added value, the federations and each of their members retain their own identity. This modern strategy points the way ahead and benefits participants at every level – the member companies as well as the trade associations themselves.

Ingo Fahl, Chair of the ViS:

“Particularly for the smaller to mid-sized trade associations that have not yet joined a network, this model offers interesting opportunities to safeguard their future.”

In the words of the Chinese proverb, “When the winds of change start to blow, some people build walls while others build windmills.” As industry federations in Germany, we no longer have the choice between walls and windmills. What we need are windmills and a shared network in which we can pool and benefit from all our skills.

Martin Auerbach