INTERVIEW: Damian Nielsen on how the ASGA serves its members

Damian Nielsen commences his new role as the Australian Signs and Graphics Association (ASGA) ‘s members and events manager this month. Sprinter’s James Wells asks how Damian will approach his new role, what the ASGA stands for and how its members benefit.

Damian, can you tell us what happens after July 1? 

I will take over the Members and Events role at the Australian Signs and Graphics Association.

What does that mean for members?

In addition to what we’ve already done, we are listening to our communities and asking how we can further support our core membership.

Our core membership is small to medium-sized signage and print businesses, and we need to understand their needs.

We are an association for signage people, run by signage people, for the betterment of the trade. All of our board members run signage businesses. Together, we stand stronger, and we aim to have more members across the board to increase our standards.

How will you approach your new role?

I don’t think the benefits of our association have been understood by the whole industry. All our members are signage people; they all run businesses. We need more people to understand that. After speaking with members, it has become clear some don’t understand what we are and what we do as an association. I formalise what we do and show we support our members.

Where did that confusion come from? Was it trying to be all things to all people, or was it a lack of clear identity?

I don’t think we have promoted ourselves wide enough. Being a not-for-profit association made up of successful businesspeople, trying to run an association is always a challenge whilst running your own business as well.

Is this a full-time role?

No, it’s a mix of hands-on organising and planning and an advisory role. My role is to understand what we’ve done in the past and move forward in the future.

What was your previous role in the Association?

Vice President and Chair of the Education Subcommittee, which has done a phenomenal job this year with our partnership with Visual Connections.

We now have all the signage and print associations together, and we’re now appearing in career expos under one united banner called Signage & Print Connections. We are printers, sign makers, package makers, engravers, braille and tactile, picture framers, and canvas makers, to name a few of our communities. We want people to find their identity within the broader group.

Are all members of your Association trade?

It’s not mandatory. We embrace everyone because we believe that even if you run a business without trade backing, you still need to understand what the business needs. In the next series of webinars, we will address ‘What do you need to run your business?’

If a member’s business is not licensed to do what it needs to do, we will help and point you in the right direction if you don’t have the required license.

Where do you see the Association’s growth, and what can you offer new members?

We’re a $15 billion industry in Australia. Our association provides what you need to run your business from a business perspective.

We’re updating and putting more tools and templates online for our members. For example, if you’re a member looking to increase staff levels or have a problem with IR or work health and safety, we’ll have advice and templates for you.

Another example is our MEGT Partnership for Employment in our industry. We hosted MEGT in a webinar for members and then ran an expression of interest (EOI) for employment within our industry. This initiative leverages the power of a larger organisation to enhance the impact of recruitment efforts.

The EOI Campaign was conducted until the end of May, gathering interest from potential candidates. MEGT handled the recruitment and candidate search for various roles because we address a common concern from member feedback: difficulty finding apprentices. MEGT offers recruitment, training, and mentoring services. It provides a solution for our members to fill roles nationwide, utilising MEGT’s expertise as a leading employer from a group training perspective.

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