Nine months have elapsed since Murray Simpson took office and he has covered 18 000 miles visiting members and listening to their views on what the TSA should be providing and on industry problems generally.

“We are refining our services through feedback—translating it into action,” Mr Simpson says, adding he has resisted “the temptation to have a revolution and change everything overnight”.

Members clearly regard the TSA’s core job as still being trade protection, but they believe the association can usefully introduce a range of new services.

“Trade protect#ion” may sound a negative term, Mr Simpson considers, but explains that looking after the sector’s interests at all government levels, and promoting rapport with national and international standards organisations, are highly positive activities.

In visiting members, Mr Simpson has taken opportunities to study their operations. His increased understanding of what launderers and drycleaners do on a day-to-day basis will assist him effectively communicate in official corridors of power.

Knowing the industry better is not only important for him but also for others in the TSA staff team, he says. He is keen that staff should visit textile care businesses.

Mr Simpson has been told by members that the TSA should be more involved in training, and he is pinning# down exactly what they want.

Identified by probing deeper has been a lack of industry-specific management leadership training.

This gap is being filled by an “Essentials of leadership” training programme specially tailored for middle managers in the textile care sector. The first programme has just been held. Demand for places was substantial, and a second programme is being arranged for October.

To be developed will be industry-specific training for senior managers—those people with responsibility for several textile rental plants, for example.

Continued will be the association’s well-established and highly successful course for new managers in the textile rental sector.

The association wants to develop its customer care workshop programme aimed at drycleaning unit counter staff. To date, workshops have been held only on the TSA’s premises—now they are likely to be staged regionally as well. Technical training, possibly covering such areas as cleaning methods, production and distribution, are being considered.

Increased emphasis will be placed on involvement with industry technical matters and Michael Palin, who has joined as technical director, will lead this and be proactive in the area of industry related standards.

Some new focus may be put on industrial relations. It is expected there will be demand for instructive sessions on implications of the forthcoming national minimum wage.

Further development of industry National Vocational Qualifications is under way.# Ongoing are TSA efforts to provide useful, regional forums for members. Greater flexibility in how subscriptions can be paid should help recruitment in the independent drycleaning sector where the association has much scope for improving representation.

Mr Simpson agrees the New Deal initiative to improve customer satisfaction with drycleaning has ambitious goals, but notes that it has already given rise to healthy liaison with the Association of Suppliers to the British Clothing Industry.

Plans are in hand to explore the buying power that the TSA could achieve for members’ benefit in a number of new areas.

Mr Simpson acknowledges that some members still regard him as a “new boy” to be judged on his actions. The momentum he is generating should mean they will not be disappointed.