WCMA 2017 Fall Conference and Plant Tours
Grand Rapids, MI
August 21 - 23, 2017
Over 110 WCMA Members, Technology Partners, and Non-Members, participated in the Wood Component Manufacturers Association’s 2017 Fall Conference and Plant Tour event in Grand Rapids, MI, August 21-23. I know as owners and managers of manufacturing facilities, it is sometimes hard to take the time for your own growth and professional development, but let me assure you, this event is a must attend! This year’s event offered an excellent opportunity for attendees to network with peers, hear the latest offerings from our Tech Partners, and tour manufacturing facilities.
Held at the stunning JW Marriott downtown Grand Rapids, the event brought together a wide variety of attendees looking for a unique opportunity to see how other manufacturers are creating products. Claus Staalner, with C.S. Industries, said “The 2017 WCMA plant tour event was great and informative for all involved. The WCMA yearly plant tours is an excellent way for both producers and suppliers to interact in a more intermit environment and be able to share ideas and learn from one-another. Clearly, seeing plants in operation and seeing what methodology is used in someone’s plant, is of indescribable value. Now, taking this experience to an evening of networking with fellow plant operators and suppliers truly brings home the complete value package of the WCMA event.”
Stan Henderson, with 5 Acre-Mill, stated “As a first timer to the WCMA conference, I was excited to have the chance to make this year’s event. As a woodworker for close to 20 years now, it was great to make it out to see some of the impressive production facilities out there. The networking opportunities had positive results, as some contacts have been able to aid in some of our companies strides to become more environmentally conscious. There was a lot of great people out this year with a lot of impressive items to showcase. As we continue to make our company grow and keep the spot-light on total customer quality and continued growth, the conference this year was able to show us new doors that are available. To all the companies this year that allowed us into their shop, THANK YOU! It was a true pleasure. We look forward to the next expo and more networking opportunities!!!”
Frank Fitts, with Fitts Industries, Inc., added “What an enriching experience in Michigan, from antique manufacturing to the latest trends in case goods and a new age manufacturing, awesome event! Then you top if off with development and tech schools to train our future generation the likes of which I had no idea existed. I only hope I can keep the adrenalin flowing to our trade schools in Alabama. My takeaway is we have an awesome membership, what I enjoyed the most was talking with many of you on the bus or during the tours one on one. The networking is very special. I look forward to being with everyone again soon.
Attendees at the event toured the production facilities of seven innovative manufacturing operations:
Klise Manufacturing - With 107 years of experience and tradition, Klise Manufacturing Company continues to produce decorative wood products and lineal mouldings of the highest quality, serving kitchen cabinet makers, furniture makers, and the design/build market.
Klise offers one of the most extensive libraries of over 6,000 carved and embossed wood designs that are custom made-to-order. These unique designs provide artistic flair and relevance to traditional, contemporary, and transitional design styles in cabinetry, architectural millwork, furniture, columns and mantles. Custom patterns can be made from a wide array of North American and exotic hardwoods.
In addition, Klise offers virtually limitless design options for custom wire mesh grillwork. Our metal artisans weave or form intricate wire grilles to the designs of architects and designers from the hospitality, residential, and commercial communities, and the kitchen and furniture industries.
Davidson Plyforms - Davidson has unique compression molding capabilities which utilize a variety of materials, these products are then precisely machined to specification. Curved plywood products can be finished complete ready for assembly and full assembly services are also available. Strong engineering along with precise tooling leads to our global leadership position with our production capabilities.
Holland Bowl Mill - The Bowl Mill was founded in 1906 by the Fuller family and was purchased by today’s owner, Dave Gier, in 1984. Located in Holland, MI, they produce 800-1,000 solid wooden bowls each week from various hardwoods, and are the largest commercial bowl mill in the United States. In 2007, Holland Bowl Mill was very fortunate to be featured on The Discovery Channels program “How It’s Made” (you can view it on their website), and the segment is still running in 2017! Their products are carried at kitchen stores across the country and sold through different retail avenues. Being environmentally friendly is an ongoing component of their business and is considered in all decisions in the production of wood products. All excess wood from the bowl making process is sold for firewood or made into cutting boards and other wood products. Even the shavings are used for horse bedding. Not only are their wooden bowls made from American trees, they are proud to say their products are made in the United States.
Great Lake Woods - Great Lake Woods is a manufacturer of quality wood and laminated mouldings. They have the expertise and facilities to produce moulding, wrapped profiles and custom wood parts in large quantities, while maintaining the highest quality standards. Great Lake Woods has gained a reputation for manufacturing excellence and on-time delivery within the Architectural, Furniture, Kitchen and Bath, OEM, Picture Frame, and Residential markets, as well as many others.
Founders Brewing Co. - Founders Brewing Company has evolved into one of the highest recognized breweries in the United States, ranking in the top breweries and receiving multiple awards. The Founders Family, a group of passionate beer enthusiasts, has grown around this simple philosophy: “We don’t brew beer for the masses. Instead, our beers are crafted for a chosen few, a small cadre of renegades and rebels who enjoy a beer that pushes the limits of what is commonly accepted as taste. In short, we make beer for people like us.”
Paladin Industries - Paladin has been a trusted source of custom-run production solutions for customers in a wide range of industries with craftsmanship in mind. In 1985, Larry Bell set up shop as a manufacturer of wood office furniture components, renting the back room of a warehouse in downtown Grand Rapids. Having no loading dock, Larry had his first CNC machine delivered through a window. The Paladin story is one of steady growth, with the construction in 1990 of a new production facility, first facility expansion in 1992, and added membrane pressing capability in 1993. Today, Paladin has fourteen state-of-the-art CNC routers, several membrane presses, a PUR lamination line and Airtec edge banding. An 84,000-square foot manufacturing facility dedicated to panel production and component processing, assembly, and packaging.
Stiles Machinery, Inc. - Stiles Machinery, Inc. has been helping manufacturers achieve high performance with quality machines and service for more than 50 years. Solid Wood Technologies, including KENTWOOD moulders, grinders and rip saws and System TM optimizing systems, are part of a comprehensive list of solutions for processing solid wood components. Stiles specializes in putting new technology and new thinking to work for manufacturers of all sizes with support from the best customer service and training in the industry.
In addition, we toured the Michigan Career and Technical Center in Plainwell and learned about their woodworking program to help train the next generation of woodworkers.
The WCMA plant tours are designed to encourage an open exchange of ideas regarding the latest woodworking production techniques, as well as overall business strategies. Attendees are able to observe actual applications of new technology and visualize how they might apply them in their own plants.
The WCMA also had two excellent speakers address the group. The first speaker, Gene Wengert (aka The Wood Doctor) looked into his “crystal ball” and offered a unique view, with practical aspects, into the future of the industry. He stressed the importance of orienting manufacturing toward quality, rather than production, and providing excellent customer service to ensure repeat business.
Dr. Jaideep Motwani, chair of the Management Department at the Seidman College of Business, was the second speaker during the conference. Dr. Motwani discussed developing a successful strategic plan for your business, with a focus on profitability versus growth. During Dr. Motwani’s interactive, hands-on session, participants performed an overall assessment/analysis of their organization using the Strategic Business Architecture Framework. The framework is comprised of six critical steps, ranging from identifying competitive skills/capabilities to developing the driving force(s) for your business. Participants walked away with an action plan for achieving their “strategic intent”.
Overall, this year’s event was exceptional. As Keith Atherholt, with Lewis Lumber Products, Inc., stated “I hadn’t realized this was actually our 20th year as a member of the WCMA. Our association has changed a lot since we first became involved, but so has our business! It is gratifying to be able to share in networking with my peers about those changes. Market conditions, personnel issues, regulatory pressures, expenditure analysis, and even inner personal conversations all encompass the changes I have been faced with! Thank you all for your friendship, trust, and advice through the years. Grand Rapids tours this year was so action packed! I had the pleasure of bringing my son and to see his enthusiasm when meeting some of you, learning new concepts from speakers, and seeing production operations in action was a real treat for me! Our industry is alive and well! Do we have challenges? You bet! But because of the WCMA I am not alone as we face the changes and position ourselves for strength and growth. I am looking forward to continued interaction with all of you!”
If you were unable to attend this year’s event, be sure to attend next year. More information on the 2018 Fall Conference will be available on our website at www.wcma.com.
A recent article on the Woodworking Network website highlighted the event. Click here to read the article.
2017 Speaker Presentations
- Gene Wengert - "The Wood Doctor"
- Dr. Jaideep Motwani - Effective Strategic Planning: Developing a Path to Success
More 2017 Attendee Testimonials
- Christina Elsenbroek - Stiles Machinery
“As a Technology partner, the WCMA fall conference allows us to build relationships with manufacturers, immersing us in a variety of processes and applications that we can talk about and share solutions in an casual atmosphere. “Getting to know people on a personal level and sharing viewpoints and ideas is so special.”
- Todd Dennison - Brown Wood, Inc.
"Once again this year's WCMA Fall plant tour event was a great experience for me. I really enjoyed the variety in tours that were offered. And as usuall the networking opportunities were plentifull. We appreciate the effort that Amy and the WCMA put forth in organizing another fantastic event. Thank you for keeping things interesting and pertinent to our staff at Brown Wood Inc. Events like this remind us how valuable membership in the WCMA is!"
- Mark Elliott - Elliott Woodworking
"Grand Rapids had some great plant tours for our group this year. Besides the networking with old friends, new contacts were made that will develop business for us. As has been the case, the speakers at our dinners have sent me home with ideas to further enhance our business."
- Mark Paisley - Thomas Moser Cabinetmakers
The WCMA Fall Conference is always a must-do event on my calendar. This year’s event in Grand Rapids was another fabulous opportunity of networking and education. It is a unique experience to be able to tour first class facilities, and discuss the interesting ideas that you saw with your colleagues on the bus ride to the next stop. The conversation does not stop at the event, there have been many times, sometimes years later, I have been in a problem solving meeting and the phrase ‘do you remember that thing we saw, or that tech partner we talked to, at the WCMA conference?’ is part of the solution."