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Millennials get such a bad reputation…

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Tech Talk by Peter Mate
Peter Mate is co-owner and president of Planit Canada, a software and services company devoted to servicing the manufacturing industry. For more info email peterm@planitcanada.ca
When I was your age… OK, maybe I’m not quite old enough to use that one, but I’m sure getting there! Younger generations are not like past generations. That’s not new.
Millennials get such a bad reputation for being lazy and entitled. As woodworkers, either we complain about it all day or figure out how to benefit from the next generations to better our businesses and to solidify our position.
If there’s something that never changes; it’s that everything always changes.
Whichever generation you are from, the previous one has always said: “Kids these days… They don’t know the value of a dollar! They don’t know what hard work is…” When I was a kid, the home phone, TV and pagers were the Internet of today. These days, the home phone, TV and pagers are obsolete. If you had a business that was based on these or heavily relied on them, you had to change or perish.
Let’s stop categorizing the younger generations and accept them for what they really are; a product of our evolution. We brought to market the technologies that they use today and we benefited from it. Younger generations can do so much more, so much faster than we used to. The argument might be that they should do more in the same amount of time. The reality is that they don’t have to. They chose to live life more and work less. The work they’re looking to do is something that inspires them and they can integrate into their lives. It’s no longer about work and personal life. Work is a part of personal life now. If you love what you do and you do it for a purpose you believe in, then you’re always working and you’re never working. It’s a part of your life.
So how do we give purpose and meaning within the woodworking industry to younger generations? Well, we stand back and ask ourselves: Why? Why do we do what we do? How does it benefit others? By answering that question and making it clear to new recruits we’ll start building a team that believes in what we believe.
We then want to stand back and enable the younger generations to equip our businesses with technologies that allow us to be better, faster and deliver on our purpose even more than ever before. Guess what happens next? Our companies make more profit.
We’re at a pivotal time in woodworking. Either woodworkers change and embrace technology or those businesses that don’t will die a slow death. Our industry has not been completely disrupted yet, but the day might be coming. What if one of the big tech giants such as Google or Amazon decided to get into cabinet making? 
How many Canadian woodworkers would start getting a 
little nervous?
Today, maybe 6-8 week lead times are acceptable. That will not last. The technology is here today to deliver jobs faster, more custom and more accurate than ever before. If we don’t adapt, someone else will.
Instead of feeling like we’re being pushed by new materials, new hardware, shorter lead times, more customizations, lower prices and pickier customers, let’s be proactive and use the technology that’s there to start breaking the boundaries.
I love this industry and I love each and every woodworker that makes beautiful things. I want to see nothing but your success and hope that your quest for success includes a strong purpose, a solid plan for attracting younger teammates and keeping the giants or anyone else from disrupting your businesses. I strive to help you do all this while still having time to be home for dinner, go camping and push your kids on a swing. Your families and your lifestyles depend on your vision to stay current and stay relevant. Don’t keep doing the same thing, because what we did 15 years ago doesn’t cut it any more. Do more by doing it differently, not by putting in more hours. If all this is overwhelming, maybe just cash out before there’s too big a risk of the value of your business tanking.

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