WALKERTON, ONT - Bluewater Wood Alliance Inc. (BWA) is representing seven Southwestern Ontario wood manufacturers at Index 2013, a major trade show in Dubai (UAE), in an effort to develop new export markets for value-added Ontario wood products. For wood manufacturing companies in Southwestern Ontario, this is a huge opportunity that they could not otherwise realize on their own.
The Bluewater Wood Alliance is a not-for-profit “cluster organization” of wood companies that was formed two years ago in the Bruce-Grey County region. Local wood manufacturing companies, hit hard by the last recession, found it beneficial to collaborate on projects such as export development, process improvement, adoption of new technologies, sharing of best practices and resources. Based on the Clusterland model in Upper Austria, the BWA has now grown to 45 companies, and is centered on a catchment area within two hours’ drive of Hanover, Ont.
Shortly after forming, the BWA engaged Wilfrid Laurier University’s MBA program to conduct a study on emerging export markets for Ontario wood products. The analysis identified the Middle East, and specifically Dubai, as a new market with significant potential. In collaboration with provincial and federal governments, the BWA first attended the Big 5 trade show in Dubai in the fall of 2012, where three Ontario companies were represented. This visit generated new intelligence on the market’s potential, which led to the present project with seven participating BWA member wood manufacturers representing furniture, flooring, high end garage doors, and children’s toys. The companies include: Bogdon & Gross Furniture Company (Walkerton), Vokes Furniture (Owen Sound), West Brothers Furniture (Hanover), Oxford Carriage Doors (Tavistock), Crate Designs (Chesley), Stock Wooden Toys (Williamsford) and South Bruce Flooring (Mildmay).
To assist with the development of sales leads and distribution channels, from contacts made in Dubai, the BWA has hired an International Trade Consultant to support the company’s efforts in developing new international markets, such as Dubai/UAE.
While there are seven BWA companies participating in the Dubai project, the results will benefit all of the BWA members, as a new understanding of exporting potential of Ontario wood products to this market will be shared with all the members. Most of these companies do not currently export, other than some sales to the United States.
Natural Resources Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources are key partners and supporters of this initiative, and the benefits will positively affect the international profile of Canadian wood products on the world stage.
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