Mergers, commitments and a hope for new growth

todmug_newA couple of news items to share as you begin your journey through this month’s issue: WoodLINKS USA is merging with the Woodwork Career Alliance (Page 10) and the 2013 AWFS has hooked the big fish (Page 57).

The merger furthers the 2010 partnership between the two industry-supported education efforts. It’s hardly surprising since the two groups seem to be on the same path.

“The Woodwork Career Alliance’s credentialing program was established in 2011, and is rapidly being adapted by the industry as the standard for training and evaluating personnel in the wood industry,” the groups said in a statement. “An educational arm of the WCA is being established to develop new recruits for our industry primarily at the secondary and post-secondary levels. Merging these two organizations will provide a stronger network to train and evaluate current and future woodworkers.”

“WoodLINKS USA has received significant industry support and developed a strong network of schools since it was first established in the U.S. in 1999. WoodLINKS USA members are active in 16 states around the country and work with thousands of students each day. Under the proposed merger, all current school members of WoodLINKS USA will become education members of the merged organization and will be provided with the same benefits afforded them under their membership terms with WoodLINKS USA.”

Here’s hoping the WoodLINKS leaders — board president Patrick Molzahn, national director Rick Hill and national education coordinator Mark Smith, to name a few — will also have prominent roles with the alliance.

The staff at AWFS must be doing cartwheels now that its largest exhibitors — Weinig, Stiles Machinery and SCM Group North America — are officially in the fold. After skipping the event in 2009, the big machinery suppliers returned in 2011 to give the Las Vegas show some extra life.

The AWFS says it expects to fill its new floor plan to capacity. The machinery and supply hall have been combined into an expanded Central Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center for the July 24-27 show.

Judges for the Fresh Wood exhibition, a student competition held during AWFS, were introduced as:

• Janis Colella, owner at Culin & Colella, a custom woodworking company in Mamaroneck, N.Y.

• Paul Epp, industrial design department chair at Ontario College of Art & Design

• Furniture maker Darrell Peart of Seattle

• Hanes Fabrics Co. regional manager Gene Valcke

• Rob Zoehfeld, product line manager at Datesweiser, a custom office and corporate furniture manufacturer in Buffalo, N.Y.

It’s also worth noting that, for the first time in five years, kitchen cabinet manufacturers have logged 12 consecutive months of growth. According to the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturer’s trend of business survey, sales increased 7.3 percent in 2012.

“The outlook for 2013 continues to improve,” the KCMA said in a statement. “Housing seems to have turned a corner in its path to recovery and kitchen repair and remodeling activity is increasing. The cabinet manufacturing industry is poised to benefit from improving market conditions.”

This article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue.

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