The leadership list

WMS this year was genuinely fun for us at Wood Industry. We especially enjoyed the Manufacturers’ Roundtable we put on at the Royal Ambas­sador north of the show venue, and we want to thank our sponsors and attendees once more, sponsors comprising Akhurst, Axalta, Grass Canada, Precision Drive Systems, Super Thin Saws, Taurus Craco, Weima and White Oak Custom Woodworking.

Kerry Knudsen

A recurring theme this year was that of leadership, followmanship and salesmanship, with leadership seeming in short supply. Naturally, there is the normal complement of people that want to be bosses, and they seem still able to interrupt the proper flow of resources, but leadership is hard to find.

The Manufacturers’ Roundtable attendees might bear viewing as a group to see if that defines leadership. The idea was and is to find out who among the manufacturers — in social statistics they call the studied group a “universe” — might come forward with ideas to share about the industry, and maybe a solution or two. It seems almost self-defining that people who take an opportunity to grab time and resource opportunities and try to advance the entire industry on a rising-tide-floats-all-boats philosophy are leaders.


Quite a few people dropped by the booth to talk about our recent e-report about our continued lack of cooperation from our industry’s self-described Wood Manufacturing Council. For those of you that read the piece, we invited members of the “Council” to stop by the booth and have a chat, and none did. We leveled some serious charges at WMC in that report. We provided an open invitation to correct anything in the record that was not true. The invitation was declined. The report stands.

One fellow that did stop by is a manufacturer from the Kitchener, Ont., area, and his reaction to the report was strong and emotional. He was angry that our industry has been painted with the broad brush of accusation for crimes of which we are not guilty. He said he has a young woman working in his company, and that everybody likes and respects her, and he both has never heard or dreamed of anybody harassing her, nor would he tolerate even the slightest hint of impropriety from among his staff or customers. Yet the WMC’s report accuses our sector of endemic sexual harassment.

It should make him mad. If you haven’t seen it, you can read the e-report here.

The thing is, if we allow self-serving “leaders” to brand our sector as gorilla-handed deviants, then that woman at the Kitchener company will come under social scrutiny for her own morals by working there. And also, the Kitchener company and the rest of us will have a hard time hiring women with character.


It seems our sector (as well as others) has made a headlong rush to technology, and has abandoned leadership, and it may have long and harsh consequences.

For example, technology may be a tool, but it may also be a trojan. Invasion of privacy and theft of personal information has become so common that stealing has become as accepted among the technology class of people as breathing, it seems.

For example, we have moved to the point that your high-end machinery can report back to home port what problems the machine is having, and often thet can be fixed remotely from Italy, Germany or China. However, that software can also report back to the home port your designs and patterns, and your production rates of each pattern and frequency.

I’m not saying that is happening at the moment, but I am saying that it could. And I am also saying if it is not happening right now, it will. There are people ready to copy and paste anything anybody anywhere is doing, set up a machine under a tin roof in Indonesia and start churning out the same products, parts and panels as the highest of the high-end, five-axis CNC machines are doing.

Leadership in our industry might try to lobby Parliament to start enforcing laws against the theft of intellectual property.

Did I just put Parliament and leadership in the same sentence? Forgive me. What was I thinking? After all, it was Parliament that established the National Do Not Call list to prevent invasive telephone calls, and I assume we have all suffered the consequences of putting our names on that list. I hear it’s the best call list in the market, since all the numbers are verified by the owner.

Maybe the new Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation will do better.

Anybody care to bet?


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