"Next month, one of the “greatest shows on earth” will be ready for viewing by our industry’s entire management corps. Mr. Boss, the International Woodworking Machinery and Furniture Supply Fair is for you — every idea, machine, discussion, innovation, procedure, service, supply and component — the whole works!

"Some of us run all over the world observing methods and equipment in other plants and viewing operations that have been in use for some time. [IWF] brings together the newest of the new and improved, and affords you the opportunity to compare various tools and procedures right on the spot. You may run across one small machine, idea or procedure that will create an enormous increase in the acceptance of your product."

Those words ring as true today as they did 32 years ago when Jerry Metz, the late, great furniture maker, consultant and columnist of Wood & Wood Products, urged readers to attend IWF 1974, then held in Louisville, KY. As a highly decorated furniture manufacturing executive, Metz understood the importance of staying on top of industry trends and being constantly on the lookout for new equipment, supplies and methods to improve manufacturing operations. He also recognized that there was no better place to immerse oneself in the buzz of innovation than an international gathering of IWF’s magnitude.

Metz also understood the value of networking at IWF and other industry events. He was a long-time member of the National Association of Furniture Manufacturers. After serving two terms on NAFM’s Board of Directors, he was named to the association’s “perpetuating office of treasurer.”

His personable approach to running his business also spilled over to scheduling meetings with loyal furniture retail customers to preview prototypes and making daily rounds of the company’s plant in Hammond, IN, to not only keep a pulse on production, but to get to know as many of his 300 employees on a first-name basis as he could.

On one hand, the successful results of these efforts can be measured by the numerous design awards J.L. Metz Furniture won for its dining and bedroom furniture pieces, and the fact that the company, founded by Metz’s father in 1898, was still investing in state-of-the-art machinery and systems up to its sale in 1970.

While Metz was a stickler for quality, he was especially proud of his company’s amazing safety record. His plant operated for more than a dozen consecutive years without experiencing a lost-time accident, earning Metz Furniture a multitude of industry safety awards and the reputation of being “the world’s safest in its field.”

Who Will Be the Next in Line for the Metz Award?

A few months before his death at age 93 in February 2003, W&WP announced the establishment of the Jerry Metz Achievement Award as a lasting tribute to this industry icon. The award recognizes a professional woodworker whose career demonstrably embodies Metz’s commitment to safety, quality, productivity and training.

The first Metz Award winner was Joseph Cannon Jr., president of CAS America, a family-owned manufacturer of commercial casework based in East Greenwich, RI. Paul Wellborn, president of Wellborn Cabinet Inc. of Ashland, AL, and Robert Gronlund, chairman and CEO of Wood-Mode Inc. of Kreamer, PA, won the award in 2004 and 2005 respectively.

Nominations for the fourth annual Metz Award will be accepted up to Friday, Aug. 11. For more information and to receive a nomination form, contact me at [email protected] or phone (847) 634-4347, ext. 652.

Jerry Metz was a hands-on furniture manufacturing executive, who got directly involved in capital investment decisions. Here he gives a pneumatic fastening gun a shot while attending IWF 1972 as a W&WP columnist.

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