WCMA 2018 Fall Conference and Plant Tours Event

Wausau, WI
October 8 - 10, 2018

Over 100 WCMA Members, Technology Partners, and Non-Members, participated in the Wood Component Manufacturers Association’s 2018 Fall Conference and Plant Tours Event in Wausau, WI, October 8 – 10. 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, mingle with our Tech Partners, listen to amazing speakers and tour manufacturing facilities.

Held at the Hilton Garden Inn, in Wausau, the event brought together a wide variety of attendees looking for a unique opportunity to see how other manufacturers are creating products. Attendees appreciated the variety of plants toured and gave high marks to the networking opportunities. The ability to discuss with others in the industry about challenges you are facing is invaluable.  

Attendees at the event toured the production facilities of six manufacturing operations and one technical school:

Counter-FormCounter-Form, Marshfield

Counter-Form began operations in 1976 and has become one of the leading laminate countertop companies in the Midwest. Counter-Form has built its reputation on “Quality”. From the people employed, materials used, services provided, and the products delivered, customers can count on Counter-Form’s superior craftsmanship and exceptional service. Only the highest quality of laminate and industrial board is used in the construction of a Counter-Form countertop. The company fabricates all seven of its post-form edges, offers five applied edges, a butcher block and wood edge option, and offers three types of under mount sinks: stainless, acrylic and quartz. Stocking more than 300 colors and patterns, Counter-Form has what the customer needs with the quality, longevity and experts on hand to keep customers coming back.

Kolbe_Logo_w_white_space.jpgKolbe & Kolbe Windows, Wausau

Kolbe’s success story begins with two brothers and a vision. In 1946, Herb and Ervin Kolbe began a business repairing and building window and door frames. Since those days over 70 years ago, Kolbe & Kolbe has grown into a nationally recognized leader in the luxury window and door industry, selling its broad range of product offerings through hundreds of distributors and dealers across the United States, Canada and beyond.

Although Herb and Ervin are no longer leading the organization, their spirits are still alive today in Herb’s daughter, Judy Gorski, who serves as Chief Executive Officer. She has not departed from the philosophies that made Kolbe & Kolbe successful, the commitment to the employees, Wausau, and the surrounding communities. Herb Kolbe always said, “our success is due to the people, the many employees who have served loyally over the years. They are, in essence, an extension of the Kolbe family.”  Herb and Ervin’s dedication to employees and the manufacturing of premium quality windows and doors served as the foundation for what they now proudly call the Kolbe brand. 

Kretz_Lumber_Logo_w_white_space.pngKretz Lumber Co., Antigo

Kretz Lumber’s roots date back to 1929. Joseph Kretz bought a sawmill to repair the barn when the family farm needed some repairs. Ironically, that barn houses Kretz Lumber’s sawmill today.

Kretz produces 10,000,000 board feet per year in the sawmill. It’s 16 kilns dry more than 13,000,000 board feet per year. The planing mill surfaces the northern hardwood species consisting of, hard maple, soft maple, red oak, basswood, white ash, and birch. A rip-line compliments the planer line with straight-line ripping along with custom rip programs.

A staff of seven field foresters manages 6,500 acres of corporate woodlands and many more privately-owned acres. The Ray Kretz Industrial forest is the pride of the company’s land base which functions as an educational resource center to Kretz visitors, year around. The Ray Kretz Industrial Forest highlights Kretz Lumber’s role as stewards of the natural resources.

In 2000 the company was organized as a 100% employee owned company through the mechanism of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan. This unique ownership structure keeps all 83 employees focused on producing high-quality products to ship to the best customers in the world.

Menzner_Logo_w_white_space.jpgMenzner Lumber & Supply Co., Marathon City

Menzner Hardwoods is a fourth-generation family owned business founded in 1894. Now, 124 years later, they are a leader in the hardwoods moulding industry; offering a completed line of hardwood mouldings in 13 different species, along with a veneer products selection. With operations in Wisconsin, Kentucky, Mississippi and South Carolina, they believe that the small-town ideals and sense of community that shaped the company in 1894, still exist today.


North_Central_Technical_School_w_white_space.jpgNorthcentral Technical School, Wausau

Located in Antigo, NTC’s Wood Technology Center of Excellence is a one-of-a-kind, 27,000 square foot facility dedicated to preparing students for careers in the forest products and woodworking industry. Through a combination of cutting-edge technology and industry-driven curriculum, their graduates are ready for a field that boasts over one-million jobs nationwide.

Students have access to the latest design software and manufacturing equipment, allowing them to learn about product design and engineering, quality assurance, material science, manufacturing and sales. The Center contains $1.5 million in state-of-the-are design and fabrication equipment.

Wausau_Homes_Logo_w_white_space.pngWausau Homes, Wausau

Wausau Homes has been a quality custom home builder in the Midwest for more than 50 years. The business continues to “Redefine the Building Experience” today by partnering with more than 65 local builders serving Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.

As the #1 most recognized home builder in the Midwest, Wausau Homes makes the process stress-free for homebuyers by providing a firm price, an exact move-in date and a home customized just the way the customer wants it. Our innovative construction facility located in Rothschild, Wisconsin, has the capacity to produce one home every hour, and we’re continuing to hire new staff as our markets expand

Weathershield_w_white_space.pngWeather Shield, Medford

Weather Shield is committed to making windows and doors the best way they know how – by putting the wants of their customers first. Today, this philosophy remains the heart and soul of everything they do. Weather Shield’s focus on innovative and flexible solutions clearly distinguishes them from other window and door companies. It's the reason they offer more styles, shapes, sizes and options in more product lines than anyone else in the industry.

Back in 1955, Edward "Lee" Schield began with a vision and used his own personal savings to purchase aluminum extrusion parts. Today, Weather Shield remains family-owned, with three generations actively involved in the day-to-day operations of the company. Weather Shield continues to grow and thrive by striving to offer only the highest quality products. Over the years, dedication to innovation has grown the company into one of the nation's leading window and door manufacturers.

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, Guy Bucey spoke about how to motivate today’s workforce, on eliminating the external excuses, and, through his own experience and success, focus on how you, as the manager/owner, can change and adapt to today’s hiring and employment needs. He spoke about what motivates the workforce today and how traditional views and expectations may not have the same driving force and impact as before.

Guy Bucey’s PowerPoint Presentation: How to Motivate Today’s Workforce by Aligning and Resetting Your Company and its Culture

Guy Bucey's Video Presentation:

Our second speaker was Brad Cairns. Brad taught us how to implement Lean correctly into our business. His passion for this industry is evident by his enthusiasm. Brad gave us good information about how to get started on being a Lean business. 

Brad Cairns' PowerPoint Presentation:  Kick Ass Lean

Brad Cairns' Video Presentation:

If you were unable to attend this year’s event, be sure to attend next year. More information on the 2019 Fall Conference will be available on our website at www.wcma.com.