HANOVER, Ontario – The Bluewater Wood Alliance (BWA) is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a new name, new logo, new website and aspirations for a new wave of growth.
Originally launched by seven companies operating in the Bluewater, Ontario, region to partner and share best practices, the BWA, newly rechristened as the Wood Manufacturing Cluster of Ontario (WMCO), now has 120 members extending throughout all of southwestern Ontario.
In the accompanying video, Mike Baker, executive director of WMCO, highlights the group’s history and mission. He also explains why Wood Manufacturing Cluster of Ontario is a better suited name for the non-profit group beyond its substantially larger geographical footprint.
What makes WMCO unique is that it operates as the only wood manufacturing cluster in Canada and one of the few clusters of any industry in North America. The cluster embraces southwest Ontario’s entire wood industry supply chain. The WMCO not only includes wood product manufacturers and suppliers, but also academia for workforce development and government partners to help fund projects and activities. The overarching goal of the cluster is to work together within the constraints of antitrust laws to make all member companies more globally competitive.
The BWA’s conversion to becoming a manufacturing cluster can be traced to January of 2011 when two of its representatives attended the Cluster Academy in Linz, Austria, for cluster training. Two months later, BWA was incorporated as a non-profit, industry-led cluster to serve manufacturers located within a two-hour radius of the Hanover-Walkerton area.
BWA began holding quarterly networking events for wood product manufacturers and suppliers could discuss new technologies and forge stronger business relationships. By November 2012, BWA had 25 members and hired a cluster manager. The group ramped up the frequency and variety of events to include plant tours, lean manufacturing and other training programs, export development projects, and round table sessions on topical issues.
In 2016, the BWA had 80 members and decided to expand the official cluster region to include all of southwest Ontario. The BWA’s board of directors was expanded from seven members to 12, comprised of 10 manufacturing members and two supplier members. The cluster’s expanded turf encompasses the vast majority of Ontario’s woodworking economy. The cluster’s turf includes the vast majority of Ontario’s wood products economy. According to the Conference Board of Canada and Wood Manufacturing Council, the approximately 2,000 wood products companies active in Ontario in 2016 combined for $6.6 billion in revenues and employed about 30,000 workers with a total payroll of $1.2 billion.
Now with 120 companies, the WMCO is looking to grow its membership through industry outreach efforts and programs, including conducting educational sessions at the 2021 Woodworking Machinery Supply Conference & Expo, Nov. 4-6 in Mississauga. The video below features testimonials from current members of the benefits of belonging to the WMCO.
Learn more at wmco.ca.
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