Bluewater Wood Alliance is searching for a talented outgoing BWA Program Manager.

Bluewater Wood Alliance is growing and now needs a talented outgoing BWA Program Manager. Reports to: BWA Executive Director

Working in collaboration with the BWA Executive Director (ED) and the BWA Program Administrator (PA)

Required Skills: Exceptional communication skills (oral, written, presentation, and social), ability to develop relationships with key stakeholders and industry members, proficient using Microsoft office (word, excel, power point, and other platforms), Ability to work independently and self-managed. Knowledge and education in the wood processing industry an asset. Use of car and ability to travel in southwestern Ontario region. Ability to take initiative and problem solve. Education and experience in the wood industry an asset, but not necessary.

Areas of Responsibility:

1. Member Engagement/Retention: In strategic collaboration with the ED

  •  Regular member visits and contact to maintain member engagement with BWA activities
  • Learn member needs, trends, ideas, and opportunities to drive BWA events and activities
  • Communicate above needs and trends to ED and PA to create and drive BWA programming and projects
  • Track the above data on companies and BWA activities above using shared tools and processes
  • Utilize website and social media to engage BWA members in collaboration with ED and PA
  • Participate in member events as deemed necessary in collaboration with the ED

2. BWA Membership Development

  • Marketing and sales of new BWA memberships, with emphasis on Manufacturing members
  • Tracking of new member lead development and follow-up
  • Relationship development with potential members
  • Follow-up to attend BWA quarterly events

3. BWA Event Facilitation

  • Organize, Host and Facilitate BWA events as required in collaboration with ED and PA
  • Tracking of member attendance and activity using established processes

4. Communication

  • Posting of news articles on events and activities and updates to website and social media
  • Development of reports and tracking of member activities and data as required
  • Regular communication with BWA members, ED, PA
  • Bi-weekly reports on PM activity
  • Relationship building with key partners

5. BWA Project Management- in collaboration with ED

  •  Management of BWA projects as required
  •  Tracking of milestones and activities and requirements
  •  Facilitation of BWA member participation
  •  Work with ED in proposal application data as required

Since this is a new position with the BWA, other duties will evolve as the position expands with the demands of the cluster

If you are interested in applying for this position, send resumes with cover letter to:

BWA Finishes 2016 Hitting Milestone of 100 Member Companies!

Greetings everyone!

This past year has been a very busy and productive one for the BWA and its members! Factories are busy! Members are engaging in BWA networking events, plant tour focus groups, projects, and training.

New members are joining, and our industry is starting to get some momentum. This past week, our 100th member joined: True North Log Homes in Bracebridge.

The BWA now sits at 70 manufacturing and 30 associate supplier members, and we are continuing to grow!

Here are some of the highlights of this year:

  •  4 Plant Tour Focus Groups engaging members in Continuous Improvement methodology
  •  4 Quarterly networking events with subject matter expertise and supply chain members
  •  First quarterly event hosted by Post-Secondary Institution (Conestoga) with visit by Hon.  Minister McGarry, MNRF
  • 2 public Finishing training sessions followed by in-house training by subscribing members
  • 2 High School wood shop tours to BWA members for workforce development
  • Export development project to Index Design Show, Dubai, UAE in May, 2016
  • Export development project to High Point Market, High Point, NC. for April and Oct markets
  • BWA offers sponsors to 20 High schools for Woodlinks curriculum with Wood Manufacturing Council
  • BWA participates on 2 program advisory committees for post secondary: Conestoga and Georgian College to facilitate industry input to curriculum
  • The BWA is continuing to pursue opportunities for its members with its government partners, and wishes to thank the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for its ongoing support!

Make sure to mark Jan 25th, 2017 in your calendar for the next Pant Tour Focus Group hosted by GCW Cabinets in St. Thomas!

On behalf of the Bluewater Wood Alliance, its members and board of directors, we wish everyone a Christmas and prosperous new year!

We can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store for us in 2017!


Best regards,

Mike Baker

Executive Director


EDC’s Peter Hall Has Good News for the Wood Industry!

On March 30th Peter Hall, Chief Economist from Export Development Canada, presented to the BWA. Read on to see his latest commentary on the prospects of the wood industry!


APRIL 7, 2016

Rising Out of the (Saw)Dust

By Peter G Hall,

Vice-President and Chief Economist

Wood products from this neck of the woods are older than Canada itself. One can hardly picture this country without tall, ruler-straight old-growth trees, logs floating down a river to the sawmill, and so on. Wood is synonymous with our economic development, and remains an important part of Canadian exports. Exporters of all stripes were pummeled by the recession, but few have been hit as hard in the past fifteen years as the wood products industry. Were the losses permanent, or is there hope for a revival anytime soon?


In 2015, wood products exports brought in over $15 billion of revenue to Canadian businesses. However, as recently as 2004, it was a $24 billion moneymaker, so it has seen a significant shakeup. Global recession wasn’t really the big enemy; the industry lost its footing with the rapid appreciation of the Canadian dollar between 2003 and 2008. From 2004 to 2009, wood products exports plummeted 66 per cent, devastating most sub-sectors of the industry. In some cases, there was barely anything left of the industry. Layer on a deep global recession, followed by an extremely slow recovery, and most would conclude that the industry was either on its way out, or no longer really a player. But are they right?


Wood products shipments are dominated by sawmill activity – largely spruce-pine-fir 2X4’s, which account for 62 per cent of the industry’s exports. Mirroring the industry total, it lost two-thirds of total shipments from the turn of the millennium through 2009, an unimaginable loss of activity. Many businesses, particularly smaller ones, folded, never to rise again. Others toughed it out, hoping for better times. They’re likely glad they did: since the trough, annual growth in exports has averaged almost 14 per cent. The driver? For the most part, the steady recovery of US housing starts, which have more than doubled over the same timeframe. True, exports are still just 75 per cent of 2000 levels, but the sector has climbed a long way up from its chasm.


Waferboard is the second-largest sub-sector in the industry. From its recent peak in 2004, the industry saw an 85 per cent plunge. While it still has a long way to go to regain previous heights, survivors have been enjoying 19 per cent annual export sales growth since 2011.


Next on the list is household wood furniture. It used to command 8 per cent of sales, but that share was almost halved. The rise of the loonie chopped $1.8 billion in export sales down to less than $500 million, and the industry has only just begun to recover in the last couple of years. Again, those who managed to hold on are seeing a bonanza: 15 per cent average growth in 2014-15.


Roll a number of the remaining categories together – such as plywood, veneers, particle board, windows and doors, kitchen cabinets and the like – and the pattern is much the same. Collectively, exports peaked in 2004, and from there through 2012, 60 per cent of activity vanished. Hangers-on again were rewarded: since bottoming out, sales are climbing at an annual average of 20 per cent.


Among all the categories, one stands out. Like the rest, wood office furniture fell on hard times that seemed to precede both currency appreciation and the Great Recession. It saw a long, steady decline through to the recession, a sharper drop in 2009 and a further stumble in 2010. Then, a quick jump, and a couple of flat years. Then, another jump in 2014, and a massive 26.6 per cent increase in 2015, taking total sales back to a level last seen in 2002. Last year’s surge was likely aided by the weaker loonie, but could also reflect the aggressive increase in US business investment that was triggered by tightening capacity constraints in key American industries.


This industry illustrates that even in sectors hit hardest by the huge trade headwinds of the new millennium, there is hope – they are indeed rising smartly from their dreadful lows, investing heavily, and in certain cases have previous peaks in sight.


The bottom line? Canada’s wood products industry might have been written off by some, but internationally diversified sales and rising US demand are combining with a weaker Canadian dollar to revive the industry – and the best is yet to come.


This commentary is presented for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a comprehensive or detailed statement on any subject and no representations or warranties, express or implied, are made as to its accuracy, timeliness or completeness. Nothing in this commentary is intended to provide financial, legal, accounting or tax advice nor should it be relied upon. Neither EDC nor the author is liable whatsoever for any loss or damage caused by, or resulting from, any use of or any inaccuracies, errors or omissions in the information provided.


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BWA Recognizes Hon. Minister Bill Mauro, MNRF, for Supporting BWA Cluster! BWA Now Expanding Cluster Region to include Southwestern Ontario!

Its not easy getting 1-1 time with a provincial Minister, but the BWA did! Read on to learn why and what has been happening with the BWA!

Based on the Upper Austria Clusterland Model, the BWA continues to evolve toward sustainability over time with the increase in membership and development of other revenue streams. Since the inception of the BWA in 2011, the accomplishments and the reach of the BWA continue to accrue with earnest!

If not for the initial support of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) Wood Promotions Branch, the BWA would not have been able to facilitate any of the collaborative projects that have benefited wood product manufacturing companies in southwestern Ontario. These companies would otherwise not have access to these opportunities. Examples include:

•   Export development projects introducing members to new markets, such as the Index show in Dubai, UAE, and the High Point Market in High Point, North Carolina

•   Recent OMAFRA RED project funding to help companies adopt new technologies and initiate process improvement projects. $500,000 in funding leveraged over $3 million in member project investment over the past 2 years!

•   Monthly Plant Tour Focus groups where members learn from each other’s challenges, solutions, best practices, and adoption of lean principles

•   Learning events where members have access to subject matter experts through a shared cost model, making expertise affordable and accessible

•   Quarterly Networking Events leveraging the supply chain members for expertise and technology transfer

•   Participate on Program Advisory Committees for Community Colleges to connect industry needs with workforce development stakeholders

•   Sponsorship of 20 high schools in southwestern Ontario to adopt the Woodlinks cirriculum

•   Facilitate a bottom-up driven organization where industry dictates the agenda

•   Most recently, the BWA has expanded the cluster region to include the whole of southwestern Ontario!

•   Recently hit a milestone of 80 members

•   Membership is dominated by manufacturers, with an 80/20 ratio manufacturers to suppliers

The BWA wanted to recognize and thank the Hon Minister Bill Mauro and the MNRF for supporting its operations. The successes of the BWA are also successes of the MNRF!

A solid maple plaque was created, and presented to the Hon Minster in Queens Park on Dec 3, 2015 by BWA Executive Director, Michael Baker.

The Hon Minister Mauro was very grateful and appreciative of the BWA’s efforts, noting that the BWA is an “Important good news story for the industry”.

As the meeting rapped up, the minister made it very clear: “Keep it growing Mike, and keep up the great work”.

Growing we are! And our members are succeeding!

And so we move forward into the New Year with great momentum!

If you want more information on the BWA and its activities, contact BWA Executive Director, Mike Baker at:

Hon Minister Bill Mauro (left) receives award of recognition from BWA Executive Director, Mike Baker

Hon Minister Bill Mauro (left) receives award of recognition from BWA Executive Director, Mike Baker.



BWA Featured in Ontario Wood Manufacturing Video!

The BWA was asked to participate in a feature video portraying wood manufacturing in Ontario and the career opportunities!

The Four County Labour Market Planning board approached the Bluewater Wood Alliance to participate in a province-wide initiative to profile wood product manufacturing in Ontario, and career opportunities available for young people.

Three BWA companies participated in the video: South Bruce Flooring, West Bros Furniture, and Speke Klein. Footage includes their shop floor and various stages of their product manufacturing processes, along with interviews with BWA Manager Mike Baker, and V.P. of South Bruce Flooring, Dennis McGlynn.

BWA 2014 Year in Review!

Another year has passed for the BWA with much to reflect on and be proud of!

For all of us in what we do, this is the time of year to step back and reflect on the year’s activities; our accomplishments and challenges faced.

When you look back, the Bluewater Wood Alliance has much to be thankful for, and much to look forward to in the new year ahead!

Facilitating and sustaining a true cluster model itself is no easy feat! We have manufacturing and supplier members with divergent products, needs, and markets. What is important to one company may not be toanother at any particular time. Our ongoing challenge is finding collaborative opportunities that stick and provide value for all involved. We need to be aware that while one project or activity may involve a small number of members, in one circumstance, future projects will branch out to the rest. This is certainly at the root of the evolution of the BWA, and the year’s activities surely demonstrate how we are beginning to mature as a true functioning cluster!

In January of this year members assembled for a round-table discussion to learn about government funding opportunities. In February, we had a plant tour focus group at West Bros Furniture with a focus continuous improvement, and the March networking event hosted a high-impact finishing forum. In April, Royal Oak Kitchens hosted a plant tour focus group, and in May, six BWA members participated in an export development project with product showing at the Index Design show in Dubai, UAE in partnership with our friends at NRCan and MNR, and associate member sponsors.

June’s networking event covered ergonomics and witnessed the maturation of the board of directors with our third AGM and the election of newboard members, coinciding with the amendment of our by-laws to allow associate members to be elected to the board. The board now has a total of 10 members: nine manufacturers and one associate supplier member. This group of industry leaders will continue to guide the BWA in its evolution going forward.

One big accomplishment for the BWA this year is the facilitation of Rural Affairs Ontario’s RED project with objectives to create jobs, increase company sustainability, and develop new markets .  BWA received funding over 2 years to administer this improvement project funding to members. Twenty five members submitted improvement projects for which they received 50% funding up to alimited maximum. Total value of projects submitted reached 1.1 million, for which members will receive a total of $250,000 in this year alone. This is a fund, that if it were not for the BWA, they would otherwise not be eligible orhave access to. This project will be running again in 2015.

In August, members convened for a round table on Lean strategies for administration, and September hosted our networking event with aforum on ergonomics and hardware technologies. In October, Homestead Woodworks hosted a plant tour focus group that hosted members from across the wide expanse of our greater cluster region. You know there is value when you have this level of engagement across our membership.

Other projects in 2014 included the collaboration of research into the potential for an online product configurator in partnership with IRAP, along with ongoing perusal of export development activities that will include the U.S., Europe, and potentially Chinese markets.

Moving into 2015 the BWA has much to be thankful for! We look forward to a new year of growth and development of the cluster, while we strive to increase the competitiveness of our member companies. Many thanks to Paul Mingay and our friends at MNR’s Ontario Wood Promotions program, NRCan, IRAP, and all of our community partners for their ongoing support and encouragement!

On behalf of the BWA board of directors and our members, we wish to extend to you and your families all the best for the holiday season, and a prosperous 2015!

Mike Baker

Manager, Bluewater Wood Alliance

Mike Vokes of Vokes Furniture speaks to potential buyers at Index 2015 in Dubai, UAE

Mike Vokes of Vokes Furniture speaks to potential buyers at Index 2015 in Dubai, UAE


Annual Mike McGlynn Memorial Wood Fair a Growing Success!

Mike McGlynn was the victim of a tragic woodlot workplace accident in December, 2012. His spirit lives on in this amazing event that is everything wood from the tree to finished product!

Sept 13, 2014 marked the 2nd annual Mike McGlynn memorial event that took place at the Wingham Community Centre. See details via this link:

This event is driven to increase the awareness in young people and the public about the opportunities to work in the wood industry in the region.

A wide variety of activities at the event included wood cutting demonstrations, woodworking project competitions, product and equipment demonstrations, auctions, a dance, a pie eating contest, birds of prey demonstrations, jugglers, comedians, and much more!

The BWA participated with a booth and solicited the help of the Georgian College and Sepp Gmeiner of Lignam Consulting to assist with judging the high school woodworking project competition.

This event promises to grow even bigger next year! Please keep an eye open for opportunities for you and your organization/company to participate in various ways! Here are a few shots of the action!

Dennis McGlynn of South Bruce Flooring competes in the log cutting contest

Dennis McGlynn of South Bruce Flooring competes in the log cutting contest.

Two bald eagles! An adult male bald eagle enjoys the crowd as a second bald eagle: BWA Manager Mike Baker looks on!

Two bald eagles! An adult male bald eagle enjoys the crowd as a second bald eagle: BWA Manager Mike Baker looks on!

BWA Members Return to Dubai Index Show for Export Prospects.

Seven BWA manufacturing members returned to Dubai, UAE to test their solid wood products in a lucrative marketplace!

Two years ago the BWA conducted a study in partnership with Laurier University MBA program to help identify emerging markets for Canadian solid wood products.

One of the regions that emerged in the study was the Dubai and United Arab Emirates region. This is mainly due to their level of growth and demand for wood products and their lack of domestic forestry and manufacturing.

In 2013, the BWA travelled to the Index show with the products of 7 companies. The prospects and contacts made were so promising, that a 2nd trip was deemed necessary to take advantage of the momentum created. NRCan partnered with the BWA to return to the Index show a second  time, this time with some new BWA members participating.

Dubai is a very vibrant city experiencing extreme growth, especially with the upcoming Expo 2020, when Dubai will be the host. Between now and 2020, over 100 new hotels will be built!

The BWA booth received a lot of traffic, with heavy interest from designers and architects. The results of the leads are still being developed as we speak!

This year’s BWA participants in the Index 2014 show were: Speke Klein, South Bruce Flooring, West Bros Furniture, Dundalk Leisure Craft, Vokes Furniture, and Nicholson Design, and Stock Wooden Toys.

Check out the pictures below!

Mike Vokes speaks with potential buyers at the Index 2014 show in Dubai, UAE

Mike Vokes speaks with potential buyers at the Index 2014 show in Dubai, UAE.

Martijn Eggink of Dundalk Leisure Craft shows of one of their barrel saunas to a potential buyer

Martijn Eggink of Dundalk Leisure Craft shows of one of their barrel saunas to a potential buyer.

Larry MacBean, International sales consultant for the BWA, speaks with potential buyer at the BWA booth

Larry MacBean, International sales consultant for the BWA, speaks with potential buyer at the BWA booth.

Canada's flag flying high!

Canada’s flag flying high!

BWA Shares Industry Knowledge to Post Secondary Training for the Wood Industry!

All colleges in Ontario have steering committees for their various programs to help them keep curriculum and content relevant and current to ensure effective workforce development. Read on to learn how the BWA is connecting members to future employees!

The Bluewater Wood Alliance is pleased to chair the steering committee for the cabinetmaking and carpentry programs at Georgian College in Barrie. Our recent meeting took place April 9, 2014.

Since starting on this committee, BWA Manager Mike Baker has offered a strategy to ensure that the wood industry’s needs are heard, and that the college and students have a chance to interact and have structured and informal dialogue with both manufacturers and the supply chain.

First, the strategy is to get industry engaged and provide their input at the meetings. The BWA brings both a manufacturing and a supply chain member to provide their perspectives. This leads to ongoing relationship development for these companies with the college. BWA members Jim Hill from Arbour Hill Cabinets an Ian Christie from Upper Canada Forest Products participated in the meeting this month, and their diverse perspectives added value to the mix of the committee.

Second, we have created an agenda that includes a review and feedback on program outlines, and course outlines for the various courses in both the cabinetmaking and the carpentry/woodworking programs. It is acknowledged that there are important skill sets from both that can be transferred to industrial settings. Diverse members of the committee will be providing feedback on various aspects of their course outlines and how they can continue to serve the industry through the program’s graduates.

Finally, the dates of the meetings were scheduled so that committee members can have a shop tour and meet with the students and talk about opportunities and share examples of what to expect when students finish their programs.

This is a valuable tool for workforce development that the BWA is very pleased to be participating in to support its members in the wood industry!

BWA members Jim Hill of Arbour Hill Cabinets and Ian Christie of Upper Canada Forest Products speak with students at Georgian College in Barrie

BWA members Jim Hill of Arbour Hill Cabinets and Ian Christie of Upper Canada Forest Products speak with students at Georgian College in Barrie.