March 23, 2020
Dear fellow icemen, icewomen and all EPIA members,
Our packaged ice association, the EPIA, is not merely a social club, but is the extended family made up of responsible packaged ice producers, distributors, and all member companies providing the items that make ice production possible. Your elected Board of Directors has the responsibility to guide the EPIA actions to help build a strong packaged ice industry in Europe. We can only do that with physically and financially healthy members.
With this responsibility in mind, we have been discussing during the past couple of weeks, how best to do this during 2020. Some of the things we have evaluated are as follows:
- With Europe experiencing elevated infections from CoronaVirus, there is significant concern and certainty that:
- Spring and early summer travel is expected to be severely reduced as people are restricted from congregating in confined spaces such as planes, restaurants, sporting events, and large gatherings.
- 2020 summer leisure activities will be impacted and the certainty of a significant decline in packaged ice sales for this coming peak ice sales season.
- How long will the restricted travel, reluctance and government direction last when it comes to being in bigger groups together? However long, it would most likely cause significantly reduced attendance at the Malta convention?
- These personal and government restrictions have just begun, but will most likely last for some length of time and have dire effects on our individual businesses and possibly our individual health.
Your EPIA BoD will be supporting our members to the extent we can throughout this very unreal biological event. The immediate steps we have taken are as follows:
• Reduce the dues by 50% for members during 2020.
- Delay 2020 dues payment date from 31 March 2020 until 1 September 2020 without penalty.
- This could somewhat alleviate so cash flow issues for 2020.
- This would also help to retain membership levels due to this significant reduction in 2020 ice sales during the peak ice sales season.
- Some members have already paid their 2020 dues or will pay by 31 March 2020. For
those members we will:
- Credit the 50% overpayment toward the 2021 dues invoice.
- As a “thank you” for making it possible for the EPIA to remain solvent during this terrible situation, those member companies will be rewarded one night free at the convention hotel in 2021.
We then have the financial risks associated with the convention in Malta during 5-9 October 2020. Each year we start our convention planning almost immediately after the convention just held. Again this year we commenced this planning with a hotel selection in December/January and settled a negotiated contract in February. At this point we obligate the EPIA for financial exposure for many facilities, services, events, and other activities associated with the convention. With the CoronaVirus upheaval, we have been discussing at length how to keep the EPIA safe from forfeited security deposits required for the hotel meeting space, hotel services for meals and events, as well as rooms, translation services, special events, transportation, and all the incidentals associated with the convention planning. Our first step three weeks ago was to negotiate a no initial deposit with the signed contract with the hotel agreement and substitute a first right of refusal in the event another organization were to contract for our space and time slot. That is still in effect and actually saves us a great deal of money for the time being. Our current options looked to be as follows:
- Postpone convention dates to later in 2020.
- Cancel 2020 convention contract completely.
- Plan to keep the Ax Palace hotel in Malta as the venue for 2021 during our normal
convention time of year—Late September through late October.
One of the most beneficial activities for EPIA members is the ability to congregate and exchange ideas, successes, failures, lessons learned, and new approaches to ice production. With a great deal of disappointment, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 convention in Malta for October 2020. We will be discussing this with the hotel and will reschedule the same venue for October 2021.
Please follow your countries guidelines and protect yourselves, families, and loved ones from this virus and take whatever steps needed to keep your businesses sound for 2020 and the future.
We are the package ice industry of Europe. We need all of us to continue to build the packaged ice industry of the future.