BWA Plant Tour Focus Groups Bring Value to Family Business Owners!

Seventeen BWA member companies travelled across the cluster region to learn from each other through the BWA Plant Tour Focus Group format. Cabinet makers today vary in size, and when you get to that threshold of business where you grow, important decisions need to be made. Read on to learn how the BWA events bring value to family owned wood product manufacturing operations!

Once a family cabinetmaking business gets to 9 or 10 employees, the owner can’t begin to clone themselves. Its time to re-think your operations and value stream to the customer, and empowering your employees. This is a very challenging position to be in, and many of the BWA member companies have been though this, and are in the middle of it! BWA members travelled from across the far reaches of the cluster region to participate in this learning event.

The BWA Plant Tour Focus groups are facilitated on the principles of continuous improvement and lean concepts. Jim Hill of Arbour Hill Custom Cabinetry in Hanover, Ontario hosted the latest event January 15, 2015. As the face of the business to the customer on top of wearing multiple hats, Jim provided a candid overview of his business model and processes. Areas of expertise were shared, as well as challenges with his current level of growth.

Many members present have been through the threshold of hiring a production manager and shop foreman to supervise custom projects and also sales. This involves “letting go”, but in todays labour market, finding the right people to trust and deliver on important tasks in a small family business is a huge challenge. Jim provided a detailed tour of his facility followed by a facilitated debrief and discussion.

Some of the discussion themes including sharing of ideas and best practices relating to managing family members as employees, design software, effective task delegation, employee empowerment, dust collection, finishing equipment and techniques, plant layout opportunities, business model structure opportunities, water base finishes, cabinetry techniques and trends, employee recruitment, and outsourcing opportunities to name a few.

You know there is value to the members when conversations continue out into the parking lot and relationships grow between the network of companies for the betterment of the entire industry. The BWA Plant Tour Focus groups help to generate that level of learning and engagement for all involved.

If you would like more information on these and other BWA events, please contact BWA Manager Mike Baker at manager@bluewaterwoodalliance.com

Jim Hill of Arbour Hill Cabinetry in Hanover, ON, leads a tour of his shop

Jim Hill of Arbour Hill Cabinetry in Hanover, ON, leads a tour of his shop.

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