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WoodLINKS president charts a new course

Patrick Molzahn took over as president of the WoodLINKS USA board of directors in July during the AWFS fair. The director of the cabinetmaking and millwork program at Madison Area Technical College in Wisconsin says he will focus on enhancing the national visibility of the industry educational organization throughout his three-year term.

Increased fundraising is the first of Molzahn’s four strategic goals.

“I’ve analyzed and tried to see the direction that the organization needs to go,” Molzahn says. “I’ve been on the board six years and have seen many things transpire. The biggest challenge we had when the economy went bad is that some of the associations reigned in some of their contributions to WoodLINKS. We’ve lost a lot of visibility.”

Molzahn also hopes to increase the number of schools participating in the WoodLINKS curriculum. Currently, membership requires a school to pay a $5,000 licensing fee. “Since many schools have lean budgets to begin with, local businesses used to help schools with the fee but are now unable to do so,” he says. “I’m currently discussing with board members the possibility of offering tiered site fees, where schools can become members at lower costs with fewer benefits and have the ability to upgrade at a later date.”

The third goal focuses on bringing long-term funding to the organization. “Endowment is the ultimate solution to our funding challenges. We are a lean organization,” Molzahn says.

“The average cost to recruit, hire and train an employee averages around $10,000 when you include lost productivity. If WoodLINKS USA supplied only 20 new workers annually to the industry, it would be paying for itself. With 64 sites in 16 states, WoodLINKS is easily supplying several times as many graduates to the industry.”

The fourth goal is to build upon partnerships with WoodLINKS Canada, the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America and other organizations that share the group’s mission to provide the best trained workforce for the industry’s future.

Earlier this year, WoodLINKS USA reorganized its management by moving former national director Mark Smith to the position of national education coordinator and adding Steve Ehle as Smith’s successor. Molzahn says the management change has worked out well.

“Steve is a person that’s going to find the funding for the organization and Mark is focusing on serving the member schools. We also have a very talented and dedicated board. From this point, I see us being able to grow [our membership] in a quick amount of time.”

Molzahn also plans to generate financial and political support for woodworking education through online fundraisers in 2012. They will include a machinery raffle in the spring and wood product auction in the fall.

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