September Networking Meeting Full of Solid Information.

The September networking meeting in Walkerton was information packed, highlighting innovations from IWF, new projects to benefit our members, a primer on machinery purchase justification and a thought-provoking presentation on risk management.

The sixth networking meeting of the Bluewater Wood Alliance was held at the Walkerton Clean Water Centre on a bright fall afternoon in September.  A full roster of great content was kicked off by an update on the progress made over the past months by the BWA in its efforts to build benefits for the members.  Blair Tullis, Co-Manager of the BWA, announced that two projects have just been funded by the National Research Council, through their IRAP/ARP and DTAPP programs.

Co-manager Blair Tullis

The first project is a web configurator application that will allow members to create an e-commerce program to allow retailers and customers to look for, customize and order furniture and flooring.  By creating a template, this project will allow members to sell more effectively using the high technology tools now available.

The second project is a Technology Baseline Study that will create a snapshot of the technology in use across the BWA, from accounting to CAD/CAM to ERP programs.  By helping our members to create a value stream map of their operations, this project will set the stage for further integration of the technologies that are integral to success in the global market.  The support of our government funding partners is critical to the successes we have had with projects to date.  It is greatly appreciated by the manufacturers in the region.

Kicking off the presentations, Co-Manager Sepp Gmeiner reviewed the recent IWF show in Atlanta, touching on the optimistic vibe on the show floor and presenting seven Challenger Award winners for technological innovation.

Co-manager Sepp Gmeiner.

Co-manager Sepp Gmeiner.

He followed that up with a primer on justifying machinery purchases, giving practical advice on the process to follow in working through the assumptions, realities and surprises that can crop up in buying new machinery.

The main speaker of the day was Stephen Mallory, president of Directors Global Insurance Brokers, who gave a down-to-earth and thought-provoking talk on managing risk for company owners and management.  Rather than a talk on insurance, the presentation dealt with the threats and opportunities faced by managers who are plotting the course of their companies for the months and years ahead.  He gave a siimple formula to use in graphing potential risks that allows management to identify, plot and prioritize the actions needed to moderate risk.  His presentation is attached to this article.

Steve Mallory, president of Directors Global Insurance

Steve Mallory, president of Directors Global Insurance.

Following a networking break, two associate member companies gave presentations on hardware innovations.  Troy McMann of Blum Canada, an Austrian-based world supplier of functional hardware, talked about their roster of drawer systems for furniture and cabinet applications.  H also presented a video that highlighted the Blum capabilities, followed by a presentation on the strength of branding to create preference and build business.

Troy McMann of Blum speaks with new member, Glen Small of Royal Oak Kitchens

Troy McMann of Blum speaks with new member, Glen Small of Royal Oak Kitchens

The final presenter of the day was Don Penner of Hettich Canada, the Canadian arm of the German decorative and functional hardware giant.  His presentation highlighted the ability of up-market hardware to add value to furniture and cabinet designs, with point of sale displays that can promote the quality of the overall product.

Don Penner of Hettich extols the virtues of his products.

Don Penner of Hettich extols the virtues of his products.

 The afternoon wrapped up with more networking time, where lively discussion prevailed.  The hardware representatives had brought samples of their products, which generated a good deal of interest.  Some of the participants repaired to the local pub for a pint and further conversation.   All in all, the day was a solid success.

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