October 12-14, 2021
Over 80 WCMA and WMMA Members, Technology Partners, and Non-Members, participated in the joint Wood Component Manufacturers Association and Woodworking Machinery Manufacturers Association’s 2021 Fall Conference and Plant Tours Event in Louisville, KY October 12-14. This is the first joint meeting with the two associations, and attendees were grateful for the expanded networking opportunities, the ability to meet one-on-one with suppliers, and the tours of manufacturing plants in the area.
Held at the Omni Louisville Hotel, the event brought together members from the wood component manufacturing sector and members from the machinery and supplier sector. Members from both associations found benefit in the networking opportunities, made connections, and learned how other manufacturers are producing products. The ability to discuss with others in the industry the challenges being faced in both sectors, was invaluable.
While each association held morning sessions specific to their industry and business needs, both associations came together in the afternoons to share the plant tour experiences. Evening reception dinners were held on Tuesday and Wednesday with both groups participating in casual social interaction and business networking.
Wednesday morning’s WCMA Educational Sessions featured a broad variety of industry hot topics. Executive Director, Amy Snell, opened the morning sessions with WCMA and Real American Hardwood Coalition updates. Multiple Employee Plans, Workforce Hiring & Retention, and Digital Marketing were also presented by featured speakers with expertise in each of those areas. The sessions concluded with a luncheon and Keynote Speaker Steve Haffner who presented “The Trust Advantage”. All sessions were well received and offered timely information and valuable take-aways for WCMA members.
As this was the first in-person gathering for WCMA members since 2019, local pandemic protocols were closely monitored and changes to the original agenda were modified as necessary. As a result, two of the previously scheduled plant tours were cancelled at the request of the tour facilities. While this was unfortunate, attendees understood the situation.
Attendees at the event toured the production facilities of three manufacturing operations:
Anderson Wood Products – Louisville, KY
For over a century, Anderson Wood Products has been a leader in hardwood dimension providing a wide array of products manufactured from sustainable American hardwoods. Through five generations, Anderson built a rich heritage of supplying architectural millwork for some of America’s most prestigious buildings to its current production of institutional furniture and residential millwork that includes strong commitments to dormitory furniture and stair components. From a significant lumber inventory procured from environmentally responsible mills, processed through their dry kilns and state-of-the-art rough mill, their capabilities range from producing rough dimension components, to fully machined, assembled and pre-finished products in a facility tailored for both efficiency and flexibility.
Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory – Louisville, KY
In 1842, J. Frederick Hillerich emigrated with his family from Germany to Baltimore, Maryland. They moved to Louisville in 1856, where J. Fred started a woodworking shop. By 1864 "J.F. Hillerich, Job Turning" was in business and filled orders for everything from spindles to shutters to steamboat interiors.
According to company legend, the first pro bat was created by 17-year-old Bud Hillerich for Pete Browning in 1884. Browning was a megastar on Louisville's major league team, the Eclipse. One spring afternoon, Bud skipped out of work to watch the Eclipse play. He saw Browning break his bat and offered to make a new one at the woodworking shop. According to the story, in the next game Browning got three hits with the bat Bud made. And, oh, Pete Browning’s nickname was, "The Louisville Slugger."
The Hillerich’s baseball bat business grew. The name "Louisville Slugger" became their registered trademark in 1894, and Bud joined his father as a partner in 1897. Today the factory produces 1.8 million bats per year, of all sizes.
Koetter Woodworking & Forest Discovery Center – Borden, IN
For over half a century, Koetter Woodworking has been an industry leading manufacturer of cabinet & furniture components, architectural millwork, solid wood doors and stair parts. Their success is based on vertically integrated structure that includes the process and storage of green lumber, on-site kiln drying operations, state of the art manufacturing equipment, and an extensive finished goods inventory.
Over the years, Koetter has continually invested in optimizing technologies to ensure maximum yield of timber resources. Koetter is committed to reducing material waste throughout its operation through recycling programs and other reuse practices. All of Koetter's dry kilns are heated using wood waste as opposed to non-renewable fossil fuels.
Their continued commitment to their team members, technology, and a never-ending process improvement, allows them to provide their customers the highest level of quality and service in the industry.