Nothing like face-to-face


For those of you that saw this month’s e-letter, you noticed our concern for the increasing rate of pressure being put on entrepreneurships by society and government. If you didn’t get the letter, you can sign up at

Kerry Knudsen
Kerry Knudsen

It’s once a month, we don’t share your contact info and it gives us a chance to break news quickly if necessary.

We continue to be concerned about not only pressures from outside and inside, but about our general lack of communication regarding upcoming issues, ideas and proposals to keep our industry vibrant. This is especially difficult in an environment where commercial interests control most of the communication.

In order to break this logjam, we are going to implement a forum many of you may remember from years back called a Manufacturers’ Roundtable. We need to talk.

The format is simple. This Roundtable will be open to manufacturers, managers and their spouses, but will be closed to suppliers. It will be closed to educators. It will be closed to government. The purpose is not to offend or to imply anything, it’s just that manufacturers don’t always open up if they think it could be used against them in a sales, seminar or regulatory scenario. There will also be no press, except me, sans hat.

The forum will be at a place to be decided, on or about November 2 during the WMS in Mississauga to optimize the number of people that can participate.

I will be the moderator. For 365 days each year, I am an editor and publisher, but for that event I will put up my editor hat. Nothing I see or hear will leave that room. It will be your night to hash out some issues and make some contacts.

Prior to and during the event, we will accept topics for discussion from among the attendees. I will receive and sort the proposals, and will announce the proposals one at a time. From there, I will see to it that people are called upon to express their ideas and opinions, and I will cut off speeches if they become overbearing.

You may bring up anything you wish, from costs and regulations to U.S. markets and quality control, from labour and raw materials to advertising and transporting. All submittors will be anonymous. This will be your time to close the doors to the outside world and address how the wood industry in Canada is doing, what can be done or what is not right. We will have no other agenda.

Back in the day, this was, hands-down, the most attended, most-discussed and most-appreciated event at the annual Canadian Kitchen Cabinet Association’s Annual Forum, and it earned its popularity by holding to its principles of being manufacturer-specific, confidential and open to any topics.

We will cover this event in greater detail in coming issues and e-letters, so be sure to sign up if you have not already done so. Registration will be mandatory, so watch closely for upcoming information. Also, feel free to contact me with questions, comments and observations.

In a similar vein, Wood Industry is presenting its (either famous or infamous) Canada Night event at AWFS.

Canada Night is based on one simple idea. Canadians fade into the woodwork on the international stage, and we should not. For example, there tend to be as many Canadians by the number at European events as there are Americans, yet we represent only 1/10 of their population.

So on one night at AWFS, Wood Industry, along with some sponsors yet-to-be-named, will open the doors to Canadians in Las Vegas that are attending AWFS. The idea will be to have a no-pressure get-together with free drinks and hors d’oeuvres immediately following the show. To address the elephant in the room, yes. This is the same Canada Night event that a few of the over-ambitious suppliers have attempted repeatedly and unsuccessfully to kill.

We are not dead. Quite the contrary, we ran a very successful Canada Night event in Las Vegas last January at The International Surfaces Event (TISE), with which we participate every year for one of our other publications.

It could be this is the next step in Canadian World Domination. Or, at minimum, a great show.

  • Dear Kerry, I contacted you last month about needing a Canada wide association for our wood products that can promote with authority on the international stage. Just following up and was wondering if you had ever spoken to MNR.
    Please contact me to further discuss.

    Thank you.
    – Yuill

    • Dear Yuill,

      Not certain what you mean, but if MNR is Ministry of Natural Resources, I think we need to regard them as the problem, not the solution.

      We continually look to the government to take care of us. The relationship is actually the opposite.
      MNR and the government tend to focus on primary, not secondary. I see on your site that you cross the line between the two. You are an exception.
      Primary is generally controlled by a dozen or so entities and is rural by its nature. As a powerful lobby, it has been successful in sucking up all the resources that secondary tries to put in place. The Centre for Advanced Wood Processing at UBC is an example.
      Secondary is populated by around 8,000 entities, deals with manufacturing and is urban by its nature. Secondary tends to split in two over every issue. Cabinetry cannot get along with millwork, so they separate. Ontario cannot get along with Alberta, so they split again.

      I am convinced that either we will do something to take control of our own destiny, or we will not. That is why I wrote that column. No choice is a choice. If we do nothing, we will continue to be marginalized as an industry, and as we become less active in fulfilling the demands of our market, the market will shift.

      One vision of the future has a computer nerd sitting in a basement. If he is adroit, he creates a beautiful website and presents himself as a designer/producer and makes a sale. Having made the sale, he can order cabinet parts delivered to the job site if it’s builder-grade, or delivered to an assembler if he wants to appear “custom.” I know of one fellow that works third shift as a night clerk for a shipping company. He has parts shipped to him at work and assembles them on his shift, puts them into his truck delivers and installs and goes home for a nap.

      In this view, we become an industry of installers, subject to the irritations and whims of the seller, on the one hand, and the customer on the other. We deal with the fit and finish that is delivered, and our companies are subject to undercutting by the next sucker in line.

      The alternative, as noted, is to undertake the control of our industry in those areas where individuals do not have the resources or skills. These could be lobbying, complaint resolution, marketing as an industry to consumers, legal advice, training, etc.

  • Dear Kerry,
    Sign me up. We need a Canada wide association for our wood products that we can all get behind and have one voice who will promote us with authority. Ontario Wood, QWEB, B.C. Wood are good but not enough on the international stage.
    Yuill McGregor