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The New Year: A chance to improve your business

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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
I love the New Year. A time to reset and to plan for being better. For most shops, the beginning of the new year is the calmest. It’s the best time to upgrade your skills, update your systems and get ready 
for the next rush.
I know the hassles and tremendous work it takes to move forward with technology. It’s a lot easier to stick with what you have then to rip things apart to make them better. The figuring out of new systems and new ways of working is not easy. If 2017 is any indication of the Canadian woodworking industry, it should be a great 2018.
Take advantage of the slower time to re-assess how you do things and tool up for the upcoming year. Looking at what technology is available out there and seeing how it can impact your business in a positive way is something I believe in. We’re doing the same. I have many plans for 2018 and changes are certain. There are no shortcuts to growing and getting better. It’s hard work and it’s messy.
If there’s any advice I can offer, it’s following through. It’s not enough to invest in new technology, you have to grind through getting it setup and in a state to benefit your business. It could be so alluring to think that getting a new software in will solve problems or improve your business without some real roll-up-the-sleeves type of work. There’s nothing I’ve ever implemented in our business that has had a significant impact without some form of “Why did I do this?”
If I look back at the technology we’ve implemented and where we are today, I can say that we wouldn’t be where we are today without overcoming those implementation challenges. I’ve always felt that technology, whether it be software or automated equipment is a tool. How you use that tool is up to the individual business. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to make more good decisions than bad ones.
Grind through the new technology mountain and you’ll be rewarded with better efficiencies and a chance at a better bottom line. The alternative is not great. The status quo doesn’t exist. You either move forward or slip behind. If you slip behind, the gap between you and your competitors widens. It widens faster if they are revamping their processes and methods. They’re getting better, you’re falling behind.
If there’s a year that goes by where we don’t improve our processes with new technology, I’d be deflated. I can’t imagine the world moving forward and we don’t. I love to think of new technology like really cool building blocks. It’s our job to see what pieces we can find and how they fit together to build something amazing. There are tons of building blocks out there.
We operate in a very low-tech industry. Visiting another woodworking shop is always beneficial, but remember that as an industry, we’re behind on the technology front. It wouldn’t hurt to step outside our wood manufacturing industry and see what other industries are doing. You’ll be surprised at what technology is available and used outside our industry.
I love seeing new technology and thinking about how it could impact Canadian woodworkers. I hope that 2018 is a year filled with advancement in each of your shops. I look forward to another great year of working with people in an industry I love. Wishing you all a progressive and fruitful new year. All the best!

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