2016 Fall Conference and Plant Tour Event

September 18-20, 2016 - South Bend, IN

Over 125 WCMA Members, Technology Partners and Non-Members participated in the Wood Component Manufacturers Association's 2016 Fall Conference and Plant tour Event in South Bend, Indiana, from September 18-20. This year's event offered an excellent opportunity for attendees to network with peers, visit with Technology Partners during the Wood Technology Expo, tour outstanding manufacturing facilities, and hear from dynamic speakers.

Held at the beautiful Morris Inn on the Notre Dame campus in northern Indiana, the event brought together a wide variety of attendees looking for a unique opportunity to see how other manufacturers are creating products. Christina Elsenbroek, with Stiles Machinery, said "The plant tours, coupled with plenty of opportunities for peer-to-peer networking, make the WCMA Fall Conference an invaluable experience that definitely justifies time away from the office."

Steve Gerber, with Gerber Wood Products, stated "I felt the 2016 Fall Conference in northern Indiana was one of the best events I have attended in my ten years of being a WCMA member. The variety of convenient lodging, well known speakers, tours and tech partner receptions made the conference feel exciting and productive, yet relaxing and enjoyable. I was able to connect face to face with a number of tech partners during the event and also discovered some new technology on a plant tour that I will be considering for our business.”  

Todd Dennison, with Brown Wood, Inc., added "I thought that this years Fall Conference event was the best yet. It is always great to get an opportunity to network with our industry partners and build new relationships. The plant tour hosts were very gracious to open their doors to our group and allow us to get  a fresh glance at the innovation in our industry. Most importantly the speakers were fantastic this year. Both topics were relevant to our industry and offered us advice and knowledge that we could take home and implement into our companies. Two thumbs up from Brown Wood, Inc."

Attendees to the event toured the production facilities of seven innovative manufacturing operations. The WCMA plant tours are designed to encourage an open exchange of ideas regarding the latest woodworking production techniques, as well as overall business solutions. Attendees are able to observe actual applications of new technology and visualize how they might apply them in their own plants.

In addition, the WCMA invited two excellent speakers to address the group. The first speaker, industry leader John Bassett, III, talked with the group about the importance of leadership, having a winning attitude, making the best of the worst, and respecting your employees. John's no-nonsense address left attendees feeling motivated and very patriotic. Each attendee received a copy of John's new book, "Making it in America: A 12-Point Plan for Growing Your Business and Keeping Jobs at Home".

Chris Stevens, currently a professor at Notre Dame, also addressed the group. Known as "The Coffee Man", Chris joined Keurig in 1996 developing the brand, sales, distribution and marketing strategies for the company. Chris' talk, titled "Leading, Learning and Loving Your Brand", encouraged attendees to follow their dreams, create change, and invest in technology. He also discussed the importance of giving back through charitable organizations.

Overall, this years event was really exceptional. As Barry Freiburger, with George Guenzler & Sons, Inc., stated "What a fantastic turnout for this year's event. I brought someone new this year from the plant and it was amazing to see the productive plants in the Indiana region. These companies were competing and winning. I was amazed to see such high speed production associates assembling 5 piece doors in under 30 seconds per door. It really showed my team what is possible using standard work and Leaning out the process. Thanks again to all of the tech partners for making our evenings very productive learning events and the guest speakers were superb. I really enjoyed the motivational speech from Chris Stevens "The Coffee Guy", and John Basset is a true legend in our industry. Looking forward to Grand Rapids next year."

The plant tours were highlighted on the Woodworking Network website in January. 

The WCMA Board of Directors has agreed that next year's tours will take place in the Grand Rapids, MI area. If you were unable to attend in this years event, be sure to plan on attending next year!