AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- This year’s Woodworking Industry Conference featured a special panel.

Many of WMMA’s former presidents were invited to the event and were part of a special question-and-answer panel.

A few of the former association presidents are retired, but many continue to be fully active in WMMA (and a few are far from retirement age).

Todd Herzog of Accu-Router, Jamie Scott of Air Handling Systems, Tom Onsrud of C.R. Onsrud, Inc., Peter Perez of Carter Products Co., Michael Burdis and Chris Hacker (who organized the event) of James L. Taylor Mfg., Russ McBroom of McBroom Consulting (formerly of Mereen-Johnson), Jim Laster of Newman Machine Co. Inc., and John Schultz of Super Thin Saws, Inc. all took part in the event.

Current WMMA president Steve Carter of Williams & Hussey Machine Co., Inc., handled the questions and answers.

(Patrick LaFramboise, formerly of IWF, is retired and also attended WIC.)

When asked what the biggest changes were since their terms as president, most of the former executives commented that technology was the biggest change, and specifically the pace of technology. Also, the difficulty in finding talent continues to be an issue, and is likely to be more of a challenges in the future.

The former association leaders also talked about the greatest benefit to being in WMMA, the most successful WMMA program, and the benefits of participation.

Laster said that WMMA helped companies find ways to do a better job of manufacturing. Perez said the group identified issues for companies. Onsrud said that the association can do things individual companies can’t do.

What is their view of the future?

“Give schools the tools to help them see what’s happening in manufacturing, and to see how technology is applied in manufacturing,” McBroom said.

“(Equipment companies) should do a better job of encouraging the dealer-distributor,” Burdis said.

“The focus in the future should be on CTE education,” said Schultz.

“You need a strategy to find people and a link to higher education,” said Herzog.

Hacker, who first envisioned this gathering, said, “The increased speed of information has increased.”

Scott said, “There are so many great stories about manufacturing today.”

One of the questions for the former presidents was which past WMMA-related event was the best memory for them. And some spoke of past WIC gatherings, educational events and travel, along with working together to solve problems.

Carter observed that if he is asked this question in the future, one of his top memories would be this very afternoon with the former presidents.

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