BODEGA BAY, CA - The Woodworking Machinery Industry Assn. announced its Innovator, Educator and Commitment to Excellence Through Technology Awards on Sept. 26 at Bodega Bay Lodge & Spa at the association's 19th annual awards dinner honoring woodworking industry leaders.

The 2006 award winners are: General Casework of Denver, CO, Innovator of the Year; West Ottawa High School of Holland, MI, Educator of the Year; and KraftMaid Cabinetry Inc. of Middlefield, OH, Commitment to Excellence through Technology.

Giordano Checchi, WMIA president, presented Steven Johnson, owner and president of General Casework, a manufacturer of residential and commercial frameless cabinets, with the 2006 Innovator of the Year Award. Checchi noted that the company has a full complement of panel processing technology equipment and installed Web-based ordering software that ties into its manufacturing software.

"Perhaps most notably General Casework, founded in 2003, has introduced a robotic cell incorporating a six-axis robot operating in a dynamic ‘intelligent’ mode, believed to be the first in the U.S. It allows material handling for the entire plant, from receiving materials to product shipment, to be operated by a single person, in what it has described as the first step to a 'lights-out' operation, where a line can be left unattended. The company reports that this high-tech investment is resulting in reduced manufacturing costs and pricing, and increased consistencies in quality and quantity."

Dave Ortmayer, WMIA marketing committee member and COO of Italpresse USA Inc., presented the 2006 Educator of the Year to Eric McCourt, course teacher of West Ottawa High School, which is certified by WoodLINKS USA.

"Training and keeping quality employees equipped to run today's high-tech equipment is essential to profitability and efficiency is probably the biggest challenge the woodworking industry faces today," Ortmayer said. "The school offers four woodworking courses and students are encouraged to complete exploration in woodworking in a laboratory course. The courses and hands-on training are set in an 8,000-plus-square-foot space in this new high school that opened in September 2005."  

In addition to courses geared to provide training to operate basic machinery, Ortmayer said West Ottawa High School offers "a Senior Engineering course where students are prepared to advance to the highest levels in the of use of technical equipment, and to design a specialized area of study. The school also offers job counseling and placement program incorporating paid work-study assignments with local companies"

John Park, WMIA marketing committee chair and general manager of Delmac Machinery Group, presented the 2006 Commitment to Excellence through Technology Award to Tom Anderson, director of manufacturing services of KraftMaid. "[This award] recognizes companies that year after year continually reinvest earnings in their plants and in high technology equipment in order to remain competitive. KraftMaid Cabinetry, the leading manufacturer of built-to-order, semi-custom kitchen and bathroom cabinets, closet organizers and cabinetry for every room in the house, epitomizes just such a company.

"With the recent introduction and implementation of additional imported high-tech machinery, KraftMaid has increased its capacity by 40 percent in the last year-and-one-half, streamlined the production process and thereby reduced material handling and labor per cabinet," Park added. "As a result, it has achieved a just-in-time one-piece manufacturing flow, reduced set-up times through the automation this equipment makes possible and has optimize board yield. Through the efficiencies attained with new highly flexible equipment, it is able to offer an even wider range of products and in 2006 reports the largest new product offering in the company's history."


Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.