If you don't know everything you should about industrial wood finishing, you have plenty of company. Cefla America Finishing Education (CAFE) is answering the need for finishing education with a new program that provides formal accredited courses in industrial wood finishing.

Cefla's Bob Kostelnik is the school's director. He says that formal classroom training regarding wood finishing is virtually unavailable. Educational opportunities have been limited to on-the-job training and some machine operator training when new equipment is installed.

A broad spectrum

The courses cover a broad spectrum of wood finishing technology. Cefla designed the course offerings to benefit the target attendees of the specific course.

Each course will include classroom time, as well as hands-on training in Cefla's applications laboratory. The courses are one to three days in length and will vary with the extent and detail demanded by course curriculum. Custom courses will also be available.

Cefla developed CAFE in response to many requests for formal training from various sources, including customers who have existing Cefla lines or even lines from other manufacturers that have been installed for as long as 20 years. Over time and with personnel changes, all initial training has probably been long forgotten, says Kostelnik. Current operating personnel have probably never been trained in the proper operation of the equipment, nor are they likely to have any experience in finishing technology.

Others who need training include:

  • Companies in transition from craftsman-type finishing by hand to industrialized finishing methods. There's no central source of information that informs these companies of all the technology available.
  • Companies that have or are installing automated finishing lines and don't have adequately trained supervisors to run these lines. There's a great shortage of personnel qualified to supervise a finishing production line, says Kostelnik. "We consistently get requests from our customers asking for names of potential finishing managers. These courses offer training to existing foreman-level personnel from other departments."
  • Companies that aren't currently serving the woodworking industry but see the industry as a new market opportunity. They look for engineering training to become familiar with a market and technology that's new to them, says Kostelnik.
  • Companies that are building new factories are often given tax credits for education and formal training programs to new employees as part of economic development programs. To qualify for these tax credits, training must be fully documented with course outlines and educational text materials.

Also, says Kostelnik, colleges and universities that have wood science or wood technology programs don't have courses available in industrial finishing technology. This important facet of wood products manufacturing hasn't been part of the curriculum.

Although Cefla has been involved in industry seminars and workshops and educational institution lectures for many years, the first accredited class under CAFE was in December 2005. Kostelnik says that several specialized or custom courses are scheduled for this year.

It is Cefla's intent to officially "launch" the program at IWF in Atlanta this year, where it will announce class offerings and schedules beginning the fourth quarter of 2006.

Instructors and equipment

Kostelnik has 41 years of experience dedicated to the industrial wood finishing industry. He started in the industry in 1965 as a coatings formulator for two major industrial coatings companies in California. After almost 10 years in the lab, he moved into technical service, sales and finally into senior management positions within the wood coatings industry. After 30 years in wood coatings, he moved to the application machinery side of the business as the Cefla product manager at Stiles Machinery and most recently director of technology and education at Cefla Finishing America.

CAFE will also use instructors from the coatings industry, sanding experts and people from companies that specialize in applications equipment such as spray guns, pumps and rollers.

Kostelnik says the training center has full-sized production equipment that can duplicate the finishing processes used in almost all wood products manufacturers. Cefla has automatic spraying machines, hand spray booths, roll coaters, UV ovens and linear ovens with various types of infrared. It also has equipment for moulding applications, as well as denibbers, wide belt sanders and brush sanders. The finishes involved will vary according to the needs of the course.

CEU credits

CAFE will be in partnership with Stile Machinery's Stiles Education, one of the most important industrial training programs in the woodworking industry. CAFE offers fully accredited courses supported by IACET, the International Assn. for Continuing Education and Training. IACET authorizes the issuance of Continuing Education Unit (CEU) credits to its members. Courses that offer CEU credit must be designed in accordance with strict adherence to IACET educational guidelines. CEU credit certification will be issued to attendees who successfully complete each CAFE course.

The classroom and applications laboratory are located at Cefla Finishing America, 729 Gallimore Dairy Road, High Point, NC 27265. Please contact Minda Joyner or Bob Kostelnik at 336.662.9813 for more information.

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