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The Cabinet Makers Association has been hosting high-value events since 1998 as a means of connecting similar-sized shops around North America with the purpose of sharing best practices and business acumen, while learning how other businesses do what they do. The regional events typically involve plant tours, educational seminars, networking, and simply a chance to talk shop and share issues, solutions and even projects.  Although they are dubbed “regional,” these events typically draw attendees from across the country as well as Canada.

Here’s a quick look at two of CMA’s recent regional events.

Save the Date

More events planned

CMA has three regional events in the works for later this year. Keep watch for details on a trip to Long Island, New York, planned for September, with a possible trip into NYC to visit showrooms. Also on schedule for Oct. 18 is a regional event to take place Lancaster, Pennsylvania, before the Wood Pro Expo. Plan on going to Grand Rapids, Michigan in November, for an event with a focus on transitioning to CNC.

For more information about these and other events offered by the CMA, visit Cabinetmakers.org/events.

 

Woodworking tours in the Windy City

CMA hosted a regional event in Chicago on April 10, the day before the Cabinets & Closets Conference & Expo, held in Schaumburg, IL. The day-long CMA educational event included visits to design showrooms in downtown Chicago as well as a tour of a local woodworking shop.

We began with a networking breakfast at the hotel in Schaumburg, and then hopped on the bus for a trip to downtown Chicago to tour nuHaus, Exclusive Woodworking’s showroom.  The group enjoyed frank conversations with Exclusive’s Senior Project Manager Joe Knobbe about the company’s work in each area of the showroom.

CMA members toured Exclusive Woodworking’s facility as part of the association’s regional event in Chicago.

We then walked over to the Merchandise Mart to check out the SubZero/Wolf showroom as well as the other kitchen and bath showrooms. Exclusive Woodworking has done many of the SubZero/Wolf showrooms across the country.

In the afternoon, we traveled north to Exclusive Woodworking in Waukegan, Illinois, for an inside glimpse of the company’s production and processes. Again Joe Knobbe guided the group through the shop, providing insight and details on Exclusive’s unique approach to manufacturing and the rationale behind it.

“I want to thank Joe Knobbe for his gracious hosting of a shop tour at both his nuHaus Showroom and at his shop, Exclusive Woodworking,” said Ed Curtis of Curtis Cabinetry in Georgetown, Massachusetts, expressing a sentiment that was echoed by many.

“He described cabinetry, items, and procedures with clarity and aptly answered all of our questions. For me personally, I was intrigued when he described his company’s use of polyurethane coatings. I was very impressed with the finish quality of the cabinetry we inspected. If we can duplicate his results, that more than pays for the cost of attending this week’s Cabinets & Closets Conference in Chicago.”

Roby Bass of Fine Bass Finishes in Pierre, South Dakota, also commented, “The level of professionalism and quality is present in every aspect of [Exclusive’s] process. Many areas gave me something to strive for, but their finish department does such a great job in organizing and making great samples, which helps them create more guarantees for end results.”

Added Mark Krig of Northland Woodworks in Blaine, Minnesota, “I’m still cataloging the takeaways from this event. I tend to take a lot of pictures and create a slide show to share with my team.” Conversations with fellow shop owners on the tour, he added, “were eye opening,” and included discussions on finishing techniques and calculating overhead.

The day concluded with a group dinner of Chicago-style pizza at Giordano’s back in Schaumburg.  Many thanks to our sponsors, Hafele and JB Cutting, for their contributions and support of our event, and the association as a whole.

CMA members check out the technology in use at Mission Bell Manufacturing in California.

Touring the West Coast

The CMA held a two-day educational event in Northern California on May 3-4, featuring seminars from industry experts as well as plant tours of local woodworking shops and manufacturing facilities.

The event kicked off with a group breakfast at the San Jose hotel, before we headed south for a visit to Mission Bell Manufacturing. Mission Bell calls itself “a technology company that works with wood,” according to CEO & President Glenn Ripley. Glenn admitted they are scrambling to find talent, just like everyone else in the industry. To try something new, they are using social media as a recruitment strategy. Glenn also challenged attendees on how they can engage with technology. A takeaway from the plant tour was that the plant manager’s goal is to have everything in the shop on wheels for ultimate flexibility.

We then enjoyed a tour of a Guglielmo winery followed by lunch in the tasting room. The tour was interesting because of the way they also used automation and technology in the winemaking process, while still maintaining the craft of the process.

In the afternoon, we returned to the hotel for educational presentations. They began with Stephen Bero from OrderWerks who presented an overview of his order entry software designed specifically for the cabinet industry. Next up was Chris from Microvellum, who demonstrated the capabilities of the company’s CAD-based design to manufacturing software. The presentations concluded with Lockdowel, which explained its innovative fasteners and then assembled some cabinets so the group could see first-hand how easy and fast the cabinets went together.

The next day we once again began with a group breakfast at the hotel, then headed north to tour Rivendell Woodworks, a typical CMA-member shop. The group enjoyed one-on-one conversations with the Rivendell team about their production process and projects. We then headed to Western Dovetail for lunch and a tour of the drawer manufacturing facility. Finally, we visited Quickscrews for a tour of its distribution center and some demonstrations of the products.

Special thanks to the event sponsors, Castle USA and Lockdowel, for making the event affordable and enjoyable. Also thanks to all of the tour hosts for their gracious hospitality and willingness to open their doors for our group.

For more details and registration information on upcoming networking events, please visit Cabinetmakers.org/events.

 

 

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Here it is 2017, yet I have no flying car and sit in more traffic than I ever have before. I’m not sure why nobody planned for all these cars on the road; surely, there must have been some indicator somewhere along the way.

I guess I could say the same about my company; shouldn’t robots have replaced a few humans by now? Maybe not this year, but it’s probably not far off. In fact, we are on the cusp of some of the most amazing changes in our industry that we will see in our lifetimes. We are in a new industrial revolution, where the rising costs of overhead and labor continue to be dominating issues.

I recently attended the Stiles Executive Briefing Conference in Detroit. On a tour of Fanuc robotics, we saw an array of standardized robot chassis integrated to perform specific tasks with unbelievable accuracy and unwavering redundancy. Seeing the tasks performed let me know in the next few years these robots will be as common as the CNC is in the cabinet shop. These versatile robots will likely create a similar upward trajectory as for those who were early to adopt CNC technology back in the early days of DOS and tape reading machines.

Along with the CNC, the dynamics of the industry are changing quickly – faster than most can keep up with. Revolutionary new assembly methods are challenging the age-old accepted methods such as dadoes, screws, nails, dowels and glue. Not all that long ago we added a CNC horizontal bore and dowel machine and a small case clamp. How long will that even be relevant? The point I’m trying to make is how much active planning are you doing to keep up, or is your plan to fall behind? Going to the big shows and reading industry magazines is a start, but it’s going to take something more to stay ahead of the curve and remain relevant. What’s your plan to capitalize on the next manufacturing revolution and where will you go to get this information?

We are not exactly hiring a programmer for a robot, at this time, but we are definitely planning for when that day comes and searching out the schools that are offering the best programs and putting out qualified people, as well as questioning how any capital equipment could integrate into a robotic workcell.  I’m looking forward to the discussion changing from what brand of CNC are you running, to how many robots do you have and do you have on-site programmers?

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