First networking meeting a success!

The first Bluewater Wood Alliance networking meeting in Hanover, Ont., was attended by 32 industry participants.

The first Bluewater Wood Alliance networking meeting in Hanover, Ont., was attended by 32 industry participants. There was a good mix of manufacturing and supplier people there, making for some interesting conversations and a healthy exchange of business cards and experiences.

Aside from the chance to network with other industry folks, they gathered on June 22nd to hear a presentation on attaining FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) chain-of-custody certification, given by Christine Korol of the Rainforest Alliance. With increasing pressure to keep chain-of-custody records for wood products – largely coming out of the European market, architects seeking LEED points and government purchasing authorities – it is time to look at the nuts and bolts of becoming certified.

Ms. Korol’s presentation set out the parameters and gave those present a good idea of what they were looking at from a time, effort and approximate cost standpoint.

Sandwiching the FSC talk, Adam Hofmann, president of both the Bluewater Alliance and Bogdon & Gross Furniture, and managers, Sepp Gmeiner and Blair Tullis, gave presentations on what the Bluewater Wood Alliance is all about. Adam discussed the Grey-Bruce study that led to the formation of the Bluewater Wood Alliance, as well as the start of successful collaboration efforts between 5 companies that started in year 2009.

Christine Korol describes Chain of Custody from the forest to the retailer.

Blair then outlined what has been accomplished to date, including the incorporation of the not-for-profit Bluewater Wood Alliance, the establishment of the name and branding, as well as the creation of the website. He also pointed out the importance of municipal, county, provincial and federal funding to the initial success of the Bluewater Wood Alliance and its ability to hit the ground running with programs.
Finally, Sepp discussed the ongoing projects in purchasing cooperation (fasteners, glass shelves and electricity), experience exchange workshops (optimizing research and development grants), skills development/ training and networking. As a member-driven organization, the Alliance looks to its members for guidance on what programs to provide. Thankfully, that guidance has come early, with the founding members already working on a number of projects to benefit all members.

Sepp Gmeiner describes services available to the members.

At the end, Blair went over the benefits of membership:
• Regular visits to member companies to poll needs and keep members up-to-date on programs
• Networking meetings four times per year
• Cooperation with local high schools, colleges and universities to promote relevant training for industry and careers in wood.
• Cooperation with governments on all levels to understand programs and how they can benefit the member companies
• website and the members-only section for information-sharing.

A number of the participants indicated an interest in joining the Alliance, boding well for the future growth of the Bluewater Wood Alliance.