Bluewater Wood Alliance expands reach, influence | Woodworking Canada

Bluewater Wood Alliance Featured in Woodworking Canada!
November 24, 2017

The Bluewater Wood Alliance continues to grow its membership and its reach. What started out as just a handful of like-minded wood product manufacturers and suppliers…. click here to read article.

BWA Creates Links with Georgian College to Support Workforce Development

Part of the BWA’s strategic plan is to create and develop links to area colleges where part of our future workforce is being developed. Read on for more details on this important initiative!

The Bluewater Wood Alliance has adopted part of its strategic plan to work with educational institutions to help create the links between the wood manufacturers’ needs, and the curriculum of various wood technology programs such as cabinetmaking and carpentry techniques. The BWA manager Mike Baker now sits on the steering committee for the cabinetmaking program at Georgian College in Barrie.

This committee consists of other industry members, as well as college professors and administration. They meet regularly to solicit feedback from industry to help them keep their programs relevant and up to date with the needs of the wood industry.

However, to kick it up a notch, the BWA is inviting their manufacturing members to visit this committee on a rotating basis along with the BA manager to give direct and honest input to help these programs be the best they can be to serve the needs of the students and the industry. Even better, we are going in to speak to the student in the shop classes to provide them with unique perspectives on how to be successful once they graduate.

Pictured below is BWA member Mike Landman of Southgate Cabinets who accompanied Mike Baker to Georgian College last week to sit in on the committee meeting as well as speak to the cabinetmaking class in their shop. Lively discussion indeed!

BWA member Mike Landman of Southgate Cabinets talks with students in the Cabinet Making program at Georgian College in Barrie

BWA member Mike Landman of Southgate Cabinets talks with students in the Cabinet Making program at Georgian College in Barrie.

This type outreach is extremely important for future workforce development for BWA members, and the discussions that take place between manufacturers and students will help them succeed upon graduation.

Many thanks to Mike Landman of Southgate Cabinets for taking the time to join BWA manager Mike Baker for this outreach activity!

Pictured below is the Georgian College Cabinetmaking class, along with faculty Lynn MacKinley, and Mike Landman and Mike Baker.

Stay tuned for more of this kind of valuable outreach activity to help with our workforce development!

Georgian College Barrie Campus Cabinetmaking class, with BWA member Mike Landman of Southgate Cabinets, and BWA manager, Mike Baker

Bluewater Member Donates Wood to Local Schools.

Bernie McGlynn Lumber helps local schools with wood for shop projects.

Mildmay, Ont. – Bernie McGlynn Lumber, and division South Bruce Flooring, in Mildmay, Ont. recently donated a large amount of hard- and softwood for use in school projects to a number of high schools in the Grey – Bruce – Huron area. This wood is being used by shop classes in schools that offer the WoodLINKS program, which provides two years of training for careers in the furniture, cabinet and millwork industries. McGlynn has also donated wood to shop programs in the Catholic school board.

According to South Bruce Flooring Vice President, and Bluewater Wood Alliance board member, Dennis McGlynn, “Bernie McGlynn Lumber is putting our money where our mouth is.  Helping schools back up their new WoodLINKS program helps to inspire our youth to take an interest in wood working as a career. It is an investment in our own future.”

Bernie McGlynn Lumber, a member of the Bluewater Wood Alliance (BWA), is showing the kind of leadership that is needed to help reinvigorate the wood products manufacturing industry in the region. The industry is changing as computer-based manufacturing technology is adopted by companies to stay globally competitive. However, without home-grown workers to fill the increasingly complex manufacturing jobs in the wood industry, growth will be stunted.

“The Bluewater Wood Alliance has provided tremendous support to the secondary school construction technology programs over the past year. The donation from Bernie McGlynn Lumber is one more example of the generous ongoing support being provided by members of the wood alliance to the students and staff in our schools,” stated Alana Murray, Superintendent of Education for Bluewater District School Board.

The BWA is committed to helping wood products manufacturing companies to work smarter and more profitably by working together. Part of this is the formation of a partnership with the Bluewater District School Board that can help educators and the industry to work together to promote good careers in the industry.

Long a mainstay of jobs in the Grey and Bruce region, the furniture and wood manufacturing industry, which was hit hard in the recessions of the past two decades, is growing again and, with the coordination of the BWA, is developing plans to establish new domestic and international markets for the wood products of the alliance.

WoodLINKS comes to the Bluewater District School Board.

In a very positive development for the wood products manufacturing industry in Grey and Bruce counties, the Bluewater District School Board has decided to adopt the WoodLINKS™ curriculum in their high schools in Chesley and Kincardine.

Brent Beck will lead the program at Chesley District High School and Bryan Derksen will integrate the curriculum into his construction program at Kincardine District Secondary School. The programs will help train students for entry-level jobs within the industry, as well as give them a good background knowledge base to take into post-secondary programs in wood products production that are available through schools like Conestoga and Georgian College.

WoodLINKS™ is a well established program that teaches basic wood science, safety, machine operation and woodworking skills. As the industry ramps up and the economy improves, there will be a strong demand for good workers who want careers in the wood industry. Moreover, the aging workforce in our industry will create job openings as they retire.

This proactive decision on the part of the school board is most appreciated by the members of the Bluewater Wood Alliance, who promise to support the teachers and provide co-op placements for the students coming through the two-year program.


BWA reaches out to educators in Meeting on November 18.

BWA reaches out to the Bluewater District School Board to promote WoodLINKS.

Members of the Bluewater Wood Alliance hosted a group of tech teachers from the Bluewater District School Board on November 18 to give them an idea of what students might expect to see if they choose careers in the wood products manufacturing industry.

The tour started out at Speke Klein Inc. in Durham, where owners Robin Speke and Thomas Klein gave the teachers a tour of the high tech manufacturing plant and described their business, which includes customers in both Canada and the United States.  Speke Klein manufactures custom furniture and millwork, often working directly with architects and designers to create one-of-a-kind solutions.  Although the company has only five employees, it uses the state-of-the-art in machinery and software to manufacture the products.

The second stop on the tour was West Bros. Furniture in Hanover, a company known across North America for producing high quality solid wood furniture.  Owner Paul West took the teachers around his high production plant, where the latest in manufacturing technology is used to produce a variety of home furnishings, from bedroom and dining room suites to furniture for the hospitality industry.

The final stop on the tour was at the Walkerton Clean Water Centre, where Richard Lipman gave the teachers a presentation on the WoodLINKS program, a school-to-work certificate program that gives students a basic education in working safely in the wood products manufacturing industry.  The BWA supports WoodLINKS and the idea of getting young people in the Grey and Bruce region excited about the careers that are available to them in the companies of the Alliance.  Adam Hofmann, president of Bogdon & Gross Furniture, spoke to the teachers, as did his Human Resources Manager, Laurelyn Nielsen.

It is hoped that this kind of outreach by the BWA will build a successful relationship with the education system in the area to promote cooperation in education for the industry.  With an aging workforce in many of the companies, it is of primary importance to plan for the future of the industry by education today’s students for fulfilling careers in the Bluewater Wood Alliance companies.