Conducted annually, the Fall Conference & Plant Tour Event presents an excellent opportunity for WCMA members and non-members to network and discuss common concerns.

Attendees also tour the production facilities of several dimension, component, cabinet, furniture, millwork and related woodworking companies. These plant tours provide an opportunity to observe innovative woodworking operations and discover new manufacturing techniques, exchange ideas and learn about alternative methods.

The 2016 WCMA Fall Conference & Plant Tour Event will be held Sept. 18-20, at The Morris Inn in South Bend, Indiana. Tours of several outstanding woodworking operations are planned, including: American Millwork, Elkhart; RH Yoder Woodworking, Shipshewana; Kountry Wood Products, Nappanee; Quality Hardwood Sales, Nappanee; Riverside Tool, Elkhart; Woodenware, Etna Green; Indiana Dimension, Logansport; and Cole Hardwoods, Logansport.

In addition, we will be having two dynamic speakers. Stiles Machinery is sponsoring our keynote speaker, John Bassett III, on Sunday evening, Sept. 18. The subject of “Factory Man,” John has worked in the furniture industry for 55 years and under his leadership, Vaughan-Bassett became the largest wooden bedroom furniture manufacturer in the United States, with sales of more than $80 million and 600 employees. All attendees will also receive John’s new book “Making It In America.”

In addition, Chris Stevens will speak on Monday, Sept. 19. Chris was one the original four team members to develop and launch the Keurig Premium Coffee System in 1998, now the #1 coffee brewer in North America. Chris was responsible for Keurig’s Corporate Responsibility initiatives and now serves as an adjunct professor in the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame, and pursues other business and charitable ventures.

Wood Technology Expo

Each year at the event there is a two-day expo that connects leading providers of woodworking machinery, equipment, supplies, software and other business solutions – Technology Partners – with WCMA members, providing an opportunity to share solutions to manufacturing challenges.

A listing of WCMA Technology Partners can be found at www.WCMA.com. These companies are a great source for all your woodworking machinery, tooling, software and business solutions.

The WCMA Educations and Programs Committee has been working hard to ensure that there is something for everyone, so be sure to make plans now to have plant managers and other key personnel in attendance. For more information about participating in this annual event, contact the WCMA office at wcma@WCMA.com, or visit www.WCMA.com today.

Spring European plant tour

The WCMA’s first ever European Plant Tour event was a huge success, with 14 individuals from 10 member companies attending the event.

“Nina and I really enjoyed the networking that occurred on this trip,” said Barry Freiburger, 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.

“The best part was getting product demonstrations of the latest in CNC machinery – I saw technology that I did not know even existed,” he added. I can’t wait until the next one!”

The event kicked off with dinner in Frankfurt, Germany. Tours in Germany included two window and door manufacturers, as well as the Weinig headquarters. The group then travelled to the east coast of Italy where it toured SCM Group headquarters, Biesse headquarters, as well as a window, door and shutter manufacturer, and a high-end cabinet door and furniture manufacturer.

“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 manufacturers engendered thought-provoking discussion all while allowing members to become better acquainted and build relationships. Visits to Weinig, SCM and Biesse also enabled participants to closely observe the new technologies, including tailored demonstrations with product experts to answer our questions.”

WCMA partnered with two two-day sponsors Weinig Group and Biesse America, and SCM Group provided a Gold Level sponsorship. “It is because of their support that the WCMA is able to further its mission of ‘advancing and promoting the interests of the North American wood products industry through interactive and innovative manufacturing solutions,’” said Amy Snell, WCMA executive director.

Added Frank Fitts, Fitts Industries, “The opportunity to see how Europeans process and think of the machining and tooling cost was fascinating. This was very motivating to me to rethink some of how we do it. A new paradigm, if you will.”

Because of its success, the WCMA is planning a European Plant Tour event in 2018. Information will be available at www.WCMA.com.     

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