Education = Learning AND applying

Kerry Knudsen

Kerry Knudsen

Wood Industry Conference

The underlying theme in Puerto Rico at this year’s Wood Industry Conference was clearly growth, with an emphasis on education. Two of my favourite people were there to present their ideas. One is Dean Mattson, who is a teacher at Cabinet Manufacturing North Salem High School in Salem, Ore., and 2013 Woodworking Machinery Industry Association’s National Educator of the Year. The other is Scott Nelson, head of the Wood Career Alliance, based in Lincoln, Neb. I mentioned a while back Nelson’s belief that the business owner-leaders of the future will come from the trades and not the universities, and Mattson’s energy and vision have led him to a place of clear, earned leadership in the industry in the U.S.

As I guess is clear by now, we have a habit of looking at problems about 15 degrees off what others are seeing. The reason is perspective. A new perspective is not always a correct perspective, but it is always a check. On page 6 of this issue, we take a look at alternate resources for employment. We believe it is great to inspire a young person to start a career in manufacturing, and will never detract from that effort. However, if you look around your shop, you will see the majority of our employees are from the Been-There-Done-That School of Travel and Pavement. Some have multiple degrees. As Mattson noted, there are some valuable people out there that took a few wrong turns but have finished their studies and can be loyal, strong contributors if given a chance. In Mattson’s case, the prospects are young. In our story, not so much.

Thunderclouds

To state the obvious, Wood Industry does not follow the overworn, boring path of other trade magazines. The reason is simple. The “way things have always been” is a) NOT the way things have always been, and b) the current fashion is wrong, as we revealed in our September 2013 Monograph. It is wrong from the professional perspective based on Wood Industry’s academic training, its experience and its performance. More importantly it is wrong because its practitioners are dying off like mayflies in June. In our view, there is no substitute for strength, and there is no excuse for weakness. Not in business.

Our program is no secret. We tell you what we are going to do, we do it, and we tell you what we did. You decide whether we are worth it.

In that spirit, we have to report that Canada was sadly absent from the Wood Industry Conference in its former role as a leader in industry education. We asked you in our Readers’ Survey in 2012 whether we should be investigating the Wood Manufacturing Council and WoodLinks. Your overwhelming (may I say stunningly overwhelming at over 90 percent) response was yes.

As an update, we received a letter yesterday (in our time; to you it was already a month ago) from our MP, David Tilson, who has asked Prime Minister Harper’s cabinet ministers to help us learn more about those agencies and FPInnovations, who we covered a bit in our January editorial. The letter was a copy of Tilson’s third request to Jason Kenney, asking him for an immediate response to me with cc:es to Tilson.

At this point, therefore, we can report there appears to be a great reluctance on the parts of some of our industry’s most visible tax-money spenders to report what they have been doing. We are on the job. We have been down this road before, and we are willing to bet we will find your answers. Some sources just need more encouragement than others.

The Woodworking Machinery Manufacturers of America (WMMA) has expanded its membership pool by inviting end-users of American wood industry machinery to join as full members. In most cases, that means you. If you think your shop, group or region should be represented by WMMA membership, please let me know. There is more information on the WMMA website: www.wmma.org

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