Partnership between wood manufacturers and their suppliers advocating for the wood industry, supporting technology development, advancing education — WMIA is the vital link between the supplier community and the wood industry.

At the Woodworking Industry Conference in San Antonio this April, members of the Woodworking Machinery Industry Association (WMIA) elected a new slate of officers to lead the association over the next two years. Scott Mueller, owner of the Edward B. Mueller Company, a full-service machinery distributor based in the Midwest, was elected WMIA’s new president. Here he discusses how WMIA’s current activities benefit North America’s woodworking industry.

Woodworking Network: What is WMIA’s role in the woodworking industry?

Mueller: Since our association was founded nearly 40 years ago, we have grown to become the recognized voice of both importers and distributors of woodworking machinery and related equipment. Equally important is our role as a vital communications link between suppliers and manufacturers of wood products in North America. The needs of importers and distributors are at times different but often complementary, and we do our best to serve and represent both groups.

WWN: What value does investing in upgraded machinery and technology provide  manufacturers?

Mueller: The whole woodworking industry is going through an exciting period of growth right now; but this growth brings new pressures that most manufacturers are struggling to deal with. Many wood product manufacturers are extremely busy right now, but margins are still not where they would like them to be. So how do you deal with a situation where you see increasing margin pressure AND volume pressure? The only answer is through increased efficiency. Companies that make investments in the latest technology, especially in production equipment, are the ones that will be in the best position to deal with the current stresses in the marketplace; and also make the best adaptations to whatever challenges the future holds.

WWN: What is WMIA’s Wooden Globe Awards program, and how can recipients of these awards serve as role models to advance the industry?

Mueller: The Wooden Globe Awards recognize companies who made sound investments in technology, which resulted in increased production, innovation, and a stronger bottom line. By investing in their businesses, these owners offer a shining example of how to succeed in the competitive woodworking market. The Wooden Globe Awards also recognize achievements in education, vital to the future of our industry.

WWN: What are some of the other programs WMIA offers to benefit the woodworking industry?

Mueller: When you ask owners of woodworking companies what their biggest challenges are, most say, “I just can’t find enough good people!” To increase the pool of qualified candidates, WMIA’s Educational Foundation provides scholarships – nearly $300,000 to students at over 60 colleges – to encourage young people to pursue higher degrees in woodworking and related fields.

WMIA’s work with the International Standards Organization (ISO) and ANSI, the American National Standards Institute, to harmonize international standards for woodworking machinery, is also vital. WMIA established and funds the U.S. Technical Advisory Group, the voice for the U.S. on the ISO committee. So we now have the ability to influence and participate in the development of standards at a global level and to bring those standards back to the U.S. WMIA has helped secure the U.S. an active role in this process.

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