European wood manufacturing investment wows U.S. visitors
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Among the plants visited by WCMA members was Italian cabinet manufacturer Errebielle Srl. (Photo courtesy of Errebielle.)

LINDSTROM, Minn. - The Wood Components Manufacturers Association says its first-ever tour of European woodworking facilities has been a success, with 14 individuals from 10 member companies attending the week-long March event.

The technology tour included visits to window and door manufacturers, cabinet and furniture producers, as well as machinery factories in Germany and Italy. Among the plants visited were: Schnelbacher Fensterbau, Fenster Paul, Hogra-Holz, Errebielle Srl, Cerioni Infissi and Della Ceca snc.

"It was a great opportunity to find out what other companies were doing to separate themselves from the competition," said Barry Freiburger of George Guenzler & Sons Inc."I was also amazed at the capital investment small European companies were making in technology to make themselves competitive in a high labor cost environment.

"We were also able to tour leading machinery manufacturers," Freiburger added. "The best part was getting product demonstrations of the latest in CNC machinery. I saw technology that I did not know even existed. The robotic sanding machine really made me think about our own production process and the possibilities of improvements that could be made.”

The group toured the factories of Weinig, Biesse and SCM. Both Weinig Group and Biesse America partnered with WCMA on two-day sponsorships and SCM Group provided a Gold Level sponsorship

“The European Plant Tour provided a unique opportunity for WCMA members to interact and learn," said WCMA President Sid Anderson, Anderson Wood Products. "Five busy days observing woodworking operations and equipment manufactures engendered thought-provoking discussion all the while allowing members to become better acquainted and build relationships. Visits to Weinig, SCM and Biesse enabled participants to closely observe the new technologies, including tailored demonstrations with product experts to answer our questions.”

Frank Fitts, Fitts Industries, added, “The event was a great time to network with other members. For me, I learned more of what others did and got to know them on a personal level which can be difficult on domestic tours with so many people and so little time. The opportunity to see how the Europeans process and think of the machining and tooling cost is fascinating. This was very motivating to me to rethink some of how we do it. A new paradigm, if you will.”

Future international events are under discussion, said WCMA Executive Director Amy Snell. The group also holds an annual plant tour and conference event in North America, with the next one scheduled for September 18-20, 2016 in Indiana. Scheduled plant tours include: American Millwork, Quality Hardwood Sales, RH Yoder Woodworking, Kountry Wood Products, Woodenware, Indiana Dimension, and Cole Hardwood.

For more information on the WCMA and its events, contact the association at [email protected] or visit



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About the author
Karen Koenig | Editor

Karen M. Koenig has more than 30 years of experience in the woodworking industry, including visits to wood products manufacturing facilities throughout North America, Europe and Asia. As editor of special publications under the Woodworking Network brand, including the Red Book Best Practices resource guide and website, Karen’s responsibilities include writing, editing and coordinating of editorial content. She is also a contributor to FDMC and other Woodworking Network online and print media owned by CCI Media. She can be reached at [email protected]