It’s all about getting together.

It’s all about getting together. 3rd Networking meeting in Walkerton is biggest yet!

The sunny early winter weather contributed to a great turnout for the 3rd Networking meeting of the Bluewater Wood Alliance on December 7. The crowd of 55 people gathered at the Walkerton Clean Water Centre to learn the latest about finishes, finishing equipment and training for sprayers.

Co-manager, Sepp Gmeiner, opened up the meeting with an update on the progress shown by the BWA since the last meeting in September. The website continues to carry the latest information on activities of the BWA, but now there is something new.

The “members only” section of is now up and running. Sections include a list of the members and contact information for key personnel that is available for all members and associate members. In addition, there is a section called “Being Discussed Now” which gives members an opportunity to post questions or comments for discussion among all the members and associate members. Interesting questions have already been asked about sourcing bed frame hardware and benchmarking breakout operations.

The “members only” section is also where the projects are being carried out, with members who are involved able to share information and have real time online discussions. The project section is just starting to get active, with six projects on the go.

Wood Manufacturing Council representative, Stephen Kennedy, was next up with a presentation on the Going Global Workshops that will be held in the Hanover area early in 2012. This program prepares manufacturers for the nuts and bolts of exporting products out of the country. BWA members will get a special discount on rates. People who are interested in finding out more about the workshops should contact [email protected] or watch this website for updates.

The main portion of the meeting followed with presentations by a number of stain and lacquer companies, as well as one of the major spraying equipment manufacturers.

John Reis and Jeff Snider, of Akzo Nobel /Chemcraft, touched on the “ Journey from VOC to Water-based Finishing”.     Lance Trowhill, M.L. Campbell Product Manager for McFadden’s Hardwood & Hardware, talked about the Greenguard program and how it relates to water-base coatings. Sherwin Williams, which recently bought European coatings manufacturer Becker Acroma, was represented by Nigel Manson and Nicholas Markus. They brought us up-to-date on how advances by European coatings manufacturers have brought the water-based finishes to a higher quality, increasing the acceptance of these finishes over on this side of the Atlantic.

Sansin Corporation’s James Simpson and Michael Labodzinski spoke on the topic of “Running a cleaner, greener shop” and Stephen de Santos and colleague Jim McGregor of Performance Abrasives and Coatings wrapped up the water-based finishing presentations.

Of course, you can’t talk about new coatings without a discussion of what is new in delivery systems for the latest in finishing technology. S.T. Rajan, of Exel North America brought our group up to speed on two component mixing systems and Air-Mix spraying.

The highlight of the afternoon was a demonstration by Dennis Harlock and Mark Bramer of Conestoga College. They brought the “Virtual Spraying/Finishing Training Program” up to Walkerton for all to try. Some of the best laughs of the day were at the expense of “seasoned finishers” and company presidents who thought they were pretty good with a spray gun – until they tried to spray the pieces projected on the screen. The program calculates the efficiency and coverage of the spraying that is done with a real spray gun, but without any actual coatings flying. It just goes to show how valuable proper training can be to even the most seasoned of our finishers.

During the afternoon, there was plenty of opportunity for manufacturing members and supplier members to break off into small groups to discuss needs and catch up on the latest industry news. A few stalwarts repaired to the local watering hole to continue the discussions into the dinner hour.

The day was a great success and a number of attendees indicated that they would be sending in their membership forms and cheques to be able to take advantage of the benefits of full membership. Anyone wanting information on membership can email [email protected].

Read Woodworking magazine’s report –

Mike Landman takes a turn at the virtual sprayer.