WALKERTON, ON - The Wood Manufacturing Council (WMC) awarded Human Resources Awards to executives of Bogdon & Gross Furniture and Vokes Furniture, both members of the Bluewater Wood Alliance, at the BWA's fall meeting.

Adam Hofmann, president of Bogdon & Gross Furniture of Walkerton, received the WMC's annual Award of Distinction. This highest honor of the WMC's annual award program, recognizes Hoffman's significant contributions over time to support the HR needs of the advanced wood processing industry.

Hofmann was praised for his career-long commitment to employee training and development beginning with the start of his career at Palliser Furniture in Winnipeg where he took part with formation of the NEI and was involved in creating some of the most up-to-date manufacturing tools to increase productivity and develop skill-sets within the plants.

After Palliser, Hofmann joined Bogdon & Gross Furniture, eventually buying the company along with his partner, Dirk Nielsen. Hoffman saw the need to "foster a system of collaboration within the Grey-Bruce area," which led to the birth of the Bluewater Wood Alliance, a woodworking cluster based on Harvard professor Michael Porter’s concept of creating formal clusters as an economic development tool.

"It was Adam’s leadership and openness that set the tone of the Bluewater Wood Alliance from the start," said Mike Baker, director of the BWA in presenting the award on behalf of WMC. "He chaired the board, opened his company to tours and shared his management experience with the other board members and members at large. Without this leadership, enthusiasm, guidance and determination to succeed, this impressive venture would not have gotten off the ground." 

Hofmann currently serves as president of the BWA, a consortium of about 60 wood products companies and industry suppliers that participate in joint projects for skills development, technology transfer and export development. He was a featured presenter at the Wood Tech Summit Leadership Conference held Oct. 23 in Toronto the day before the start of the Woodworking Machinery & Supply Expo.

Canadian Woodworking Execs Receive HR AwardsMike Vokes of Vokes Furniture in Springmount, ON, received the Innovation in Human Resources Award (Individual). Vokes met the challenge of offshore competition for his solid wood furniture manufacturing business by developing a "learning lean culture." His efforts include teaching his staff to understand the principles of lean thinking and facilitating a dynamic culture change that resulted in employees embracing lean throughout the company.

Baker said, "Mike needs to be recognized for his sincere care of his staff where he took the time and made the effort to help the culture become aligned to believe in the company's goals and vision. Mike made every employee feel important and essential to the success of the company. This created the "buy in" necessary to make the changes to reduce lead times by 50 percent and increase the company's sustainability to continue to provide meaningful employment."

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