Workshops to highlight mass customization of wood products

The Regional Wood Products Consortium – a collaboration between Sustainable Forest Futures (SFF) and the wood products manufacturing industry in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and northern New York – will conduct a series of specialized one day innovation workshops on Mass Customization for the Wood Products Industry.

Mass customization is a powerful business model that takes advantage of advances in manufacturing and information technology to produce made-to-order items that from the customer's perspective are customized to fit their unique preferences, but from the manufacturer's perspective are manufactured with low cost and short lead times. Products that are co-designed using this approach are often sold at a premium and can help companies attract and retain customers, serve new market niches and insulate themselves from mass produced, commodity goods.

This workshop is geared to leaders of small and medium sized wood products companies and will be repeated in five locations throughout the four-state region on the following dates:
April 26, 2011 – Augusta, ME
April 27, 2011 – Concord, NH
April 28, 2011 – Randolph Center, VT
May 10, 2011 – Utica, NY
May 11, 2011 – Glens Falls, NY

Each workshop will feature presentations by leading experts on the subject of mass customization as it relates to opportunities within various sectors of the wood products industry. Featured presenters will include wood products manufacturing experts Dr. Urs Buehlmann of the Virginia Tech Department of Wood Science and Forest Products, Dr. Torsten Lihra of FP Innovations, Canada’s leading wood products research institute, and Russ Kahn of 20-20 Technologies.
A key segment in each workshop will feature an individual company leader’s personal experiences on mass customization and how they have overcome the challenges to make it a key part of their business strategy. Appearing in Maine will be Barrett Brown, President of CedarWorks, makers of customized wooden play sets. Charles Griffiths, President of Vigilant, Inc., makers of customized “design your own” wine cellars, will present in New Hampshire and Vermont, and in each New York location, Lisa Weber, CEO of Timeless Frames, Timeless Décor & Timeless Expressions – the largest single-site custom picture framing facility in the U.S., will share her experience.

Workshop participants from the Consortium’s region will be eligible to receive specialized follow-up assistance including, but not limited to, a pool of grant funds that SFF has to help cover a company’s cost, as may be applicable, in pursuing activities stemming from the workshop.

All workshops are co-sponsored by SFF’s trade association partners including the Wood Products Manufacturers Association (WPMA), Maine Wood Products Association (MWPA), New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association (NHTOA), Vermont Wood Manufacturers Association (VWMA), and Empire State Forest Products Association (ESFPA).

Any wood products company in the region is eligible to participate in any of the workshop sites at a special subsidized registration fee of only $25 per person.

This workshop and other activities of the Regional Wood Products Consortium are funded, in part, by the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund, the Northeast Utilities Foundation and the Wood Education and Resource Center, Northeastern Area State & Private Forestry, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

SOURCE: Regional Wood Products Consortium

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