Slideshow: Wow factor at EBC
September 20, 2022 | 11:40 am CDT
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Author, international speaker and founder of the Sensei Leader Movement, Jim Bouchard returned to the Executive Briefing Conference as the opening keynote. "These are challenging times," said Bouchard. "The Great Resignation is a thing. The business landscape is ever-changing, and leaders are challenged to find - and hold on to - good people." Bouchard discussed how people perform at their best when and only when they know their leaders care, their work has meaning, and they have a real chance to learn, grow and develop.

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Luke Elias, President of Muskoka Cabinets in Ottawa, discussed robotics and his true Industry 4.0 processes at EBC 2022. Among the recent additions to the company’s lineup is an RFID robotic panel processing cell and an RFID-enabled finishing line. Since taking ownership in 1989, Elias has transformed Muskoka Cabinet into one of North America’s most technologically advanced woodworking factories. Under his leadership, Muskoka was an early adopter of nested-based manufacturing in 2000, implemented ERP software in 2004, fully converted to automated water-based finishing in 2005, became a paperless shop floor in 2009, began using RFID product tracking in 2012, installed its first production robots in 2015, and automated part tracking and movement in 2017. More recently, Muskoka implemented an RFID-enabled robotic panel processing cell, which Elias called “the most automated, fastest panel processing cell in the world,” and an RFID-enabled finishing line, capable of increasing the company’s finishing output by 50 percent.  

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Will Sampson, Editorial Director of Woodworking Network, left, interviewed Michael Thornberry, center, and Jimmy Thornberry of Powell Valley Millwork. The company has successfully managed to grow and prosper in the face of recent challenges such as the pandemic, hardwood lumber prices, other supply chain challenges, and the ongoing issues of finding good workers. A multi-generational family-owned company, Powell Valley Millwork is an enthusiastic adopter of new technology, operating with an intriguing homegrown management system called SQYPH (Safety, Quality, Yield, Production, and Housekeeping). 

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EBC presenters Jim Bouchard, author, international speaker and founder of the Sensei Leader Movement, and Ron Montbleau, CEO of Montbleau & Associates.

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From left, Amanda Conger, executive director of the Cabinet Makers Association, Kelly Victor-Burke, Co-Founder/Majority Owner, Burke Architectural Millwork, and Lori Marshall, Co-Owner, Closet Training Institute.

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From left, David Biggs, Director of Digital Strategy, Woodworking Network, Will Sampson, Editorial Director, FDMC, and Jim Bouchard, author, international speaker and founder of the Sensei Leader Movement.

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Ron Montbleau, CEO, left, Ana Rothman, V.P. of Sales & Marketing, and Chris Gioia, president, all of Montbleau & Associates, discuss how their architectural woodwork company has teched up to tackle high-profile projects for the likes of Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Uber.

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Will Sampson, Editorial Director of Woodworking Network, left, interviewed Scott Prillaman about dealing with the ongoing supply chain challenges facing the woodworking industry. Prillaman is Senior Vice President of U.S. Operations for Hooker Furnishings. He is intimately involved with supply chain logistics for the company, which has diverse operations including domestic manufacturing and international importing. Prillaman shared some of the tactics and strategies Hooker uses to deal with supply chain disruptions and trying to anticipate changes that could impact the company’s production and delivery schedules.

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Tim Fixmer, president and CEO of CCI Media, the parent of Woodworking Network, welcomes the audience to EBC 2022.

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Wood & wood-based panels are a great sustainability story. The research into carbon sequestration makes it an even better one. Material Intelligence's Kenn Busch (Climate Positive NOW) leads a panel on this topic: Jarod Brames, director of Sustainability at OFS Brands; Gary LeBlanc, director of Major Accounts at Richelieu; Andy O'Hare, president of the Composite Panel Association; and Nathan Klomp, director of Business Development at MJB.

Kenn is also a contributing writer for Woodworking Network and its publications, Closets & Organized Storage and FDMC.

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Economist Dr. Chris Kuehl provided the closing keynote for the EBC. His experience and background in economics with an international perspective gave EBC attendees a particularly useful view of what to expect in terms of evolving geopolitical scenarios. Kuehl is a Managing Director of Armada Corporate Intelligence. He provides forecasts and strategic guidance for a wide variety of corporate clients around the world, including the Association of Woodworking and Furnishings Suppliers (AWFS). Prior to starting Armada in 1999 he was a professor of economics and finance for 15 years, teaching in the U.S., Hungary, Russia, Estonia, Singapore and Taiwan.  

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INNERGY's CEO, Marc Sanderson, led a discussion on Strategic Recruitment. His message: Given the current employment market, HR has to evolve and become strategic. The session looked at employee recruitment & retention, benchmarking and collaborating on ways to solve industry hiring challenges.

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Harry Urban, publisher of FDMC, served as a moderator and master of ceremonies for much of EBC 2022.

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Thomas Allott, Manager of Stiles University, discussed the launch of the National Woods Board, a group of industry professionals formed to transition ownership of the MiLL’s successful education model from public education to private enterprise with the intent of growing the program in additional locations throughout the country. Currently serving as the chairman of the National Woods Board,  Allott shared an overview of the board’s strategic goals, what support is needed from the industry, and what benefits can come from the success of this program. 

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Networking was a dominant theme at EBC 2022 as participants reached out to each other in a variety of dinners, lunches, receptions, and extracurricular events.

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The EBC 2022 audience was enthusiastic about Luke Elias' presentation on cutting-edge technology at Muskoka Cabinets in Ottawa. His opening slide asserted that "money DOES grow on trees."

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Brian Berkshire, Owner, Berkshire Contracting Ltd..

COLORADO SPRINGS -- Executive Briefing Conference attendees took in two and a half days' worth of high- level education including presentations about state-of-the-art technology, supply chain issues, solutions to the labor shortage, and trends in materials and environmental messaging. "The Woodworking Network content team assembled some of the best thought leaders in the industry for EBC 2022," said Tim Fixmer President and CEO of CCI Media and Woodworking Network, which owns and manages the event. "Each session was designed to address manufacturing and management challenges unique to the woodworking industry in North America," he said.  

EBC's audience included executives from FDMC Market Leaders, key industry associations, the FDMC 300, 40 Under 40, and others from residential and office furniture, kitchen cabinet, and architectural millwork firms.

The Digital Conference Pass, available for $315, includes access to all conference sessions of the three-day event, from the opening welcoming remarks on Thursday, Sept. 15, through the closing commentary on Saturday, Sept. 17. The Digital Conference Pass includes access to videos of each EBC presentation. Get an EBC 2022 Digital Conference Pass.

EBC 2022 was sponsored by Stiles MachineryBlum, Weima AmericaInnergy and Pennsylvania Lumbermens Mutual Insurance Company.

Plans are underway for the next Executive Briefing Conference to be held September 26-28, 2023 at the Broadmoor.

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About the author
Harry Urban

Harry Urban is the publisher of  the Woodworking Network.  Urban has more than 30 years of experience in business-to-business publishing, trade shows and conferences. He has travelled extensively throughout North America and overseas visiting and reporting on major manufacturing facilities and trade shows.