A  new professional credentials program for custom cabinetmakers and woodworkers was formally unveiled at the AWFS Fair woodworking show in July. Developed by the Cabinet Makers Association after more than a year of development, this program is integrated to a formal learning cycle and testing system. Completion yields a three-letter acronym that certifies your competency as a cabinetmaker or as a woodworker, at either Certified or Master levels.

Because several certification schemes are operating in the custom woodworking market (for example, the Woodwork Career Alliance Woodwork Passport, the Architectural Woodwork Institute Quality Certification Program) it’s worth taking a moment to learn about this new one.
“When we looked at the industry, we saw a gaping hole,” says Dave Grulke, executive director of the Cabinet Makers Association. “While there are other professional educational standards programs available that address design, technique, construction standards and a smattering of other areas, there was nothing that seemed to address the entire business of running a successful woodworking or cabinet shop.” To Grulke, that is the key distinction: certification as a business operator. The Woodwork Passport is a credential of individual craftsmanship competency; the AWI QCP is verification of a company’s ability to execute projects to architectural standards.

Ethics as a Market Advantage
“That’s where CMA’s Professional Certifications differ,” Grulke says. “We address the entire business, and include the all important customer’s perspective.” It’s no coincidence, then, that the first class to be rolled out later this year will not be about sanding, joinery or CNC machinery, but about business ethics. CMA certifications for cabinetmakers and custom woodworkers, says Grulke, “will allow them to prove to everyone they are the trusted, local experts in their field,” something he calls a “unique type of competitive advantage.”

One of the best things about the CMA program is that it was developed by member volunteers, people like you, who gave of their time. Chaired by Leland Thomasset of Taghkanic Woodwork, Holmes, NY, committee members were: Jim Falk, Progressive Wood Works, Rye, NY; Brendan Mathews, Foothill Cabinetworks, Vista, CA; Scott Comstock, Woodperfect Custom Cabinetry, Forney, TX; Jeff Mitzel, Green Award Custom Woodworking, Austin, TX and John Langley, John Langley Cabinets, Baldwin City, KS.
Redevelop during the downturn
The CMA certification program is a  good reminder of the importance of professional development, and a downturn is a good period to devote to it. We are seeing a renaissance of woodworking industry associations, which are reinvigorating their programs and remaking their strategies for the betterment of the industry, including new websites and other outreach efforts. Groups ranging from  WoodLINKS, to WMIA, CPA, American Hardwood Institute, and WMMA, to cite just a few, are launching some great initiatives, much of it driven by volunteer folks like you and me. 

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