The WCMA just wrapped up their first ever European Plant Tour event, and it was a huge success. Fourteen individuals from ten member companies attended the event, and all attendees had positive takeaways.
Barry Freiburger, with George Guenzler & Sons, Inc., stated “Nina and I really enjoyed the networking that occurred on this trip. We made great friends and it was a great opportunity to find out what other companies were doing to separate themselves from the competition. I was also amazed at the capital investment small European companies were making in technology to make themselves competitive in a high labor cost environment. We were also able to tour leading machinery manufacturers. The best part was getting product demonstrations of the latest in CNC machinery. I saw technology that I did not know even existed. The robotic sanding machine really made me think about our own production process and the possibilities of improvements that could be made. Can't wait till the next one!!!”
The EPT Group kicked off in Frankfurt, Germany with an attendee dinner. This gave the group a great chance to meet and discuss the upcoming week. In Germany, we toured two window and door manufacturers, as well as Weinig Headquarters. The group then traveled to the east coast of Italy where we toured SCM Group Headquarters, Biesse Headquarters, as well as a windows, doors, and shutter manufacturer and a high end cabinet door and furniture manufacturer. It was a fast-paced, busy week, but well worth it!
WCMA President, Sid Anderson with Anderson Wood Products, stated “The European Plant Tour provided a unique opportunity for WCMA members to interact and learn. Five busy days observing woodworking operations and equipment manufactures engendered thought provoking discussion all the while allowing members to become better acquainted and build relationships. Visits to Weinig, SCM & Biesse enabled participants to closely observe the new technologies, including tailored demonstrations with product experts to answer our questions.”
Anderson continued “Tours of woodworking plants in Germany and Italy highlighted these new technologies being practically applied. The camaraderie of the group grew as we shared wonderful local meals and the time spent traveling together. All in all, it was a fun and very valuable learning experience, and I hope the WCMA will repeat this opportunity soon.”
For this first European Tour, WCMA partnered with two two-day sponsors, Weinig Group and Biesse Factory Biesse America, and SCM Group provided a Gold Level sponsorship. These sponsors helped plan the tours of woodworking manufacturing facilities, their respective headquarters, as well as meals and hotels. We couldn’t have asked for better partners, their graciousness and hospitality were outstanding! It is because of their support, that the WCMA is able to further its mission of “advancing and promoting the interests of the North American wood products industry through interactive and innovative manufacturing solutions.”
Frank Fitts, with Fitts Industries, stated “The event was a great time to network with other members. For me I learned more of what others did and got to know them on a personal level which can be difficult on domestic tours with so many people and so little time. The opportunity to see how the Europeans process and think of the machining and tooling cost is fascinating. This was very motivating to me to rethink some of how we do it. A new Paradigm if you will.”
The WCMA Board of Directors will be discussing the opportunity to hold an event of this type in the future and will keep you posted. If you were unable to participate this year, you will surely want to participate in the future!