I am happy to report that the Wood Component Manufacturers Association has had another busy year. Attendance at September’s Fall Conference and Plant Tour event in South Bend, Indiana, was the best in several years. We had 74 attendees from 31 member companies, and 31 individuals from 21 Tech Partners. The WCMA’s Education and Programs Committee created a tremendous schedule, highlighted by John Bassett’s inspirational keynote talk.
The quality of the plants toured, the Wood Technology Expo put on by our Tech Partners, and the interaction between members made for a great event. We visited seven woodworking plants and Riverside Tool; seeing a variety of operations focused on efficiently manufacturing lumber, mouldings, S4S boards, cabinetry, chairs and RV components. A special thanks to all of the folks who opened up their plants and to Stiles Machinery, PLM and Franklin Adhesives who sponsored events.
Many of you also attended IWF along with our Tech Partners, and felt the energy. A number of exhibitors said they wrote more orders at the show in the first couple of days than in the previous two shows combined. Many of you enjoyed the WCMA reception and the WCMA booth was well attended, with Amy making a number of new contacts (we have 5 new members this year); I anticipate the 2017 AWFS will be the same.
WCMA also joined the HMA in Charleston, South Carolina, this March for its Annual Spring Conference. This was an excellent event with dynamic speakers and the chance to interact with many of our suppliers. We had 14 folks from 11 member companies and 3 Tech Partner members in attendance. I encourage more WCMA members to consider attending this event. Whereas the WCMA fall event focuses on plants and operations, this HMA/WCMA program provides a nice balance with its orientation toward the economy, Washington DC, recruiting and training, and trends in the lumber industry.
Upcoming in 2017, our Fall Meeting will be held Aug. 21–Aug. 23 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Mark Elliott is assisting Amy in putting together a great series of tours and we have confirmed the “Wood Doctor”, Gene Wengert, as our keynote speaker. The WCMA will again be exhibiting at the AWFS in Las Vegas in July and we are working out the details for another European Plant Tour in the Spring of 2018. You will receive detailed information and an itinerary for this tour in a couple of months.
Throughout the year our Executive Director Amy Snell traveled to meet current and prospective members; she plans to visit all of the WCMA members over the next couple years. Over the past year, she journeyed to Central Ohio, Central and Western Kentucky, Northern Indiana, sections of West Virginia and Virginia, and the Toronto area. This year she will visit North Carolina, Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin, Iowa, New York and Maine. She also attended a number of industry meetings and trade shows to promote the WCMA and further her contacts in the industry.
The WCMA provides its members with a conduit for customers to locate and contact potential suppliers of component parts rather than producing their own. We have all seen the comparisons and advantages to buying versus producing hardwood parts for years, and the buying advantage continues to be the better option for most. With the advances in technology and diversification of our membership, WCMA members are able to provide customers with the products they require, to their specifications, and with much shorter lead times than other competing regions in the world. There has rarely been a time when buying component parts domestically has been, by far, the better alternative for wood parts.