ST. CHARLES, Ill. - Nearly a hundred cabinetmakers from around the country met at the biannual Cabinet Makers Association (CMA) conference last week near Chicago. Over two full days, attendees listened to presentations from industry leaders and experts and got to visit two manufacturing plants.
 
Kicking off the event was a keynote from Inova CEO and Woodworking Network 40 Under 40 winner Guy Bucey who captivated the audience with his style of leadership. A former marine, Bucey urged managers and employers to "stay in their lane" and trust employees to perform. 
 
Guy Bucey is the COO of Inova, a leading manufacturer and innovator in the furniture industry.
"As a leader, you are your company's gatekeeper," he said. "Hire for attitude, not for ability. Have trust in your ability to hire good people."
 
Bucey and his nearly 100 employees meet 30 minutes every single day to talk improvement. "Never compromise continues improvement," he said. "If a truck is waiting, I let them wait. It's too important."
 
If mistakes are being made on the floor, your process is probably the problem - not your workers. Always be evaluating your processes. 
 
An audience member countered: But then how do you know when it's right to fire someone?
 
Bucey said it may be hard, but if other employees are being affected negatively, or if the worker in question is lowering shop morale, then firing should be considered. But he stressed to always look in the mirror first.
 
Business coach Tom Grandy urged owners not to be afraid of setting their prices "too high." If the quality is good, people will always pay, he stressed. Price for every cost or you won't make a profit.
 
Lean consultant Massimo Giliberti talked lean, Tom Happ of Plus Closets and Mark Bernhard of Bernhard Woodworking shared two manufacturing perspectives, the NAHB's Danuska Nanayakkara-Skellington broke down the housing market, and our very own David Biggs explained how virtual and augmented reality applications and technology can optimize training and increase efficiency. Business coach and podcaster Dominic Rubino concluded the event with an explanation on properly mapping the future of your business.
 
Plus Closets in Elmhurst, Illinois
Attendees visited the highly-efficient custom closet and storage specialist Plus Closets, which employs 125 workers at its 60,000-square-foot Elmhurst, Illinois plant. They also visited European-influenced architectural woodwork company Bernhard Woodwork in Northbrook, who installed a complete SCM manufacturing system in 2018 to streamline basic cabinet manufacturing for speed and price. That includes a CNC router, boring/doweling system and edgebander, as well as a case clamp and wrapper.
 
Bernhard Woodwork
Geared for the smaller woodworking shops, one attendee commented that 'The CMA does a really great job of putting together relevant content application to each of us." Another member said, "I really enjoyed it. The speakers were great, shop tours excellent, and networking also excellent."
 
The CMA was incorporated in 1998 by a group of custom cabinet makers who thought the small to mid-size shop needed to network and help each other grow profitably. Currently, CMA membership is made up primarily of 20 or fewer employee operations, with the vast majority of those being 15 person shops. 
 
The CMA will hold a regional event April 22 in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. Stay tuned for more details.

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.