The Woodworking Machinery Industry Association’s (WMIA) mission is to provide a platform for importers and distributors of woodworking machinery and supplies to network and present the best global technology, services, and information to the wood products marketplace.
WMIA Chairman of the Board Scott Mueller, co-owner of the Edward B. Mueller Co., discusses the association’s activities and how they benefit North America’s woodworking industry.
Woodworking Network: What is WMIA’s role in the woodworking industry?
Scott Mueller: Since WMIA’s founding nearly 40 years ago, we have been providing a venue for importers and distributors of woodworking machinery to network and share best practices, as well as serving as a vital communications link between suppliers and manufacturers of wood products in North America. The most visible role that we play to most manufacturers is our co-ownership of the IWF show, along with our partners at the Wood Machinery Manufacturers of America (WMMA). As the premier tradeshow for the woodworking industry in North America, we take great pride in providing a venue for manufacturers to see and experience the latest technology, as well as educational opportunities, which can help them be more profitable.
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. 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 good example of how to succeed in the competitive woodworking market. The Wooden Globe Awards also recognize achievements in education, which is vital to the future of our industry.
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WWN: What are some of the other programs WMIA offers to benefit the woodworking industry?
Mueller: One of WMIA’s greatest responsibilities is to help ensure the future viability of the industry. When you ask owners of woodworking companies what their biggest challenges are, most say, “I just can’t find enough good people!” To try and influence more young people to see a career in the woodworking industry as an attractive choice,
WMIA’s Educational Foundation provides scholarships – to date, we’ve provided nearly $350,000 to students at over 60 colleges. It is our hope that by doing this, we are encouraging young people to pursue higher degrees in woodworking and related fields.
Similarly, we hear from so many of our member companies that they are in need of technicians to assist customers and service machines. WMIA recently launched a campaign to raise awareness of the woodworking industry to students in colleges, technical schools and the Veterans Administration. There are opportunities for very rewarding careers in our industry, and we are doing what we can to broadcast that fact.
Finally, WMIA has been working with the International Organization on Standardization (ISO) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), to harmonize the standards for woodworking machinery. We feel that this type of initiative is vital for the future of our industry as a whole. The WMIA established and funds the U.S. Technical Advisory Group, which is the voice for the U.S. on the ISO committee. We now have the ability to participate in and influence the development of standards at a global level, and make sure that the needs of the U.S. marketplace are represented internationally.
Information on the WMIA is available at WMIA.org.