Organising the 1993 Scottish Motor Show was a highlight of Murray Simpson’s early career in the time before joining the Textile Services Association in 1997.

Simpson was then only 27 and had worked for the Scottish Motor Trade Association since 1990. He had assisted at the 1991 exhibition but this was the first time he had taken charge of such a huge event.

This two yearly show was the largest indoor public exhibition in Scotland. It occupied all five halls of the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow, ran for 10 days and in 1993 attracted 150,000 visitors over that time.

“This was very much a consumer event,” explains Simpson.”My role involved hiring the venue, selling the stands and organising the publicity including television coverage.”

To be responsible for all that at 27 was “scarily exhilarating”and although Simpson also ran the 1995 show, it was the excitement of having that first show under his sole charge that made it memorable.

That experience was mirrored in a similarly special occasion that occurred relatively soon after his return to the textile care industry as chief executive of the Textile Services Association.

The 2001 World Textile Rental Congress, held at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London, was on a much smaller scale than the Motor Show had been but again to be in charge was a great responsibility and brought back similar feelings to those caused by organising his first big show.

Not only had Simpson to organise the event but first, he had to lead the bid for London and the TSA to hold it. Associations in both Germany and Canada were also interested in being the host.

So Simpson had to prepare the case, profiling the advantages and attractions of London as a city, putting the argument for TSA as the organiser and showing what the UK industry could provide.

As with many big events he had to find partners to support it and these included LCN, which produced a special supplement to publicise the congress.

It proved a highly successful occasion attended by 300 delegates. The three-day programme was celebrated at the end with a banquet in the Natural History Museum.

By the time the event started it had gained a significance that no-one could have foreseen at the start of the planning process.

Held from 3 – 6 October, the Congress took place just a few weeks after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre.

That had two implications, says Simpson.

First, many of the USA delegates cancelled at the last minute. He understood but inevitably it had a negative impact.

Second, former prime minister John Major had been booked as the keynote speaker with the intention that he would talk about his time in Downing Street.

Instead, says Simpson, John Major ripped up his notes and gave a “foreign policy treatise” that looked at the likely flash points that could attract terrorism around the world.

It was a “stellar“ performance, an outstanding address.

Under Murray Simpson’s leadership the TSA has always counted lobbying as one of its strengths.

On 16 July 2009, Simpson and the TSA received notification that the laundry industry had received special dispensation to apply for a Climate Change Agreement that would give industry members a discount on the levy.

The success had come after eight years of lobbying and arguing the industry’s case before a series of civil servants and government departments, never accepting refusals or the EU’s objections as the end of the matter but always looking for a fresh angle that might persuade.

“We are a recycling industry,” says Simpson. “We knew we could reduce carbon emissions if the financial situation was conducive to investment.”

So in 2009, having discovered a change in the rules that would allow agreements that applied only to electricity and thus eliminated the need for EU approval, the case was finally won.

When TSA heard it could go ahead it was pleased for the industry. Speaking as the agreement neared its final deadline for reaching the pre-set target, Simpson says:”We’ve done our job.” Meeting a target of 7.5% reduction for the sector against a 2008 benchmark has been incredibly challenging but by the 30 November deadline that challenge should have been met.

The date of 15 June 2009 marked personal highpoint for Simpson when he was elected Master of the Worshipful Company of Launderers. It was a double honour as his time in office was to be unique in that it marked the 50th anniversary of the Worshipful Company of Launderers’ formation.

“We had a big vision to mark the occasion with a Guildhall Banquet that would be held, exactly 50 years to the date, on the 23 February 2010.

The industry, both the processing side and the suppliers, supported this very special occasion which was attended by over 600, people, including Liveryman Chris Shepherd, LCN advertisement manager.

Guests of honour included the Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor Locum Tenens, Alderman the Lord Levene of Portsoken KBE with Lady Levene, Sheriff Peter Cook with Mrs Julie Cook and Masters of 24 Livery Companies.

On 15 October this year, TSA marked yet another stage in its history when the association moved into its new home at 3 Queen Square with other associations in the fashion and textiles sectors. This sets the background for an exciting collaboration with the industries’ suppliers at a time when serious problems lie ahead.

An immediate concern is the rapidly escalating price of cotton, which will have a great impact on the textile related industries including the textile rental sector.

TSA has commissioned a “white paper” on the subject which will be published in the near future.