Having the opportunity to tour other kitchen manufacturing facilities across Canada has been a drawing card for years for our Regional and National Events. Tours provide us the chance to see different manufacturing techniques and styles of cabinetry depending on the region and marketplace.
What can we learn from plant tours? When touring a cabinet manufacturing facility you can always learn about new efficiencies in production, in order processing, new software applications, material handling systems and machines, communication boards, showroom displays, packaging, routing of parts, tracking orders, service items, scheduling and finishing techniques. Tours provide us with a chance to see specialized equipment working in its environment.
Touring facilities that are not making cabinets, but still related to the wood industry, is a real treat because you can see how similar machines are used in different applications or how they address different processes to take their product from conception to manufactured completion.
On many occasions, non-member firms can and have opened their doors to CKCA plant tours. This often leads to that firm joining the CKCA as a new member. They join because they see the valuable networking opportunities as well as fruitful business partnerships that are all formed during and after tours.
Opportunities also arise by observing other industries such as aircraft or automakers that have taken technology and made repetitive work cells more efficient. We have an opportunity to witness how that can be applied to some of the new manufacturing techniques, like the introduction of nested-based manufacturing, small work cells and production lines are a few examples of what we have adopted from other industries.
We often hear from our members and non-members voicing their concerns about hosting a plant tour. They think that, “people might steal their ideas.” With a half-hour walking tour of your facility controlled and directed by your staff, no one can replicate your plant and its processes in that short of a time. Yes we all make a box with beautiful doors with a great hinge that has a lifetime warranty and a drawer box that is soft close, but every company brings their own recipe to the table. As hard as I try, my meatballs never taste the same as my mother’s.
We sometime hear that there is a fear that a competitor might “steal my workers,” but nothing could be further from the truth. If we know one thing about human nature, it’s that employees are not waiting for you to host a plant tour so they can hand out their resumes to tour participants.
Why would I open up my plant to my fellow members? The tour provides you with an opportunity to clean your shop, involve your staff in a team building project that allows them to show their company pride. You can be so busy working in the business that you often do not have time to work on the business. So take this occasion to take a step back and plan your tour. Doing this will provide you with time for reflection and to carry out a self-audit of all your processes.
Remember, by opening up your doors you are simply demonstrating a reciprocal respect to other members of the association who have already shown their plant to you.
CKCA hosts three major events per year. Two Regional Events and the annual National Conference. At all three events, we have added in an educational component. We recently toured the Nova Scotia Community College in Halifax and had the opportunity to see their 3D print shop. We saw plastic and gypsum powder printers that could produce prototypes at a fraction of the time and cost of traditional processes. Their star attraction was the million-dollar photocopier that printed in a metal alloy. Truly inspirational and it opened up our eyes to what the future could look like.
Over the years the CKCA has had guest speakers that have covered topics ranging from finance, succession planning to colour trends, show room design and web marketing. These speakers provide you with an opportunity to work on your business with colleagues in the industry and these seminars are geared specifically to our industry.
To maximize your ability to extract the most benefits from our association is by attending any one or all of these three annual events. The CKCA was founded on the principles that by uniting all of us under one umbrella, we can better voice our concerns to all levels of government be it local, provincial or national.
The concerns you may have about your business are not yours’ alone. They are common among all of us in this industry. By sharing our experiences and our own unique solutions to those concerns we all benefit and we all become stronger and are better able to protect the Canadian cabinet manufacturing sector.
It all starts with you. As a member, attendance at events is key and becoming involved in whatever capacity further enhances the benefits you will receive from the CKCA. If you are not a member of the CKCA then you are missing out on vast amounts of knowledge, learning experiences and not being current. Think of all the missed opportunities to converse with people in your industry from different parts of the country who may have the answer to the problems that you currently face in your own business.
Now is the time to join the CKCA. The more members we have the greater our voice.
Caroline Castrucci is VP/Owner of Laurysen Kitchens Ltd. & President of Canadian Kitchen Cabinet Association.
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