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AWMAC by Michelle Morrell
Michelle Morrell is the National Executive Director of the Architectural Woodwork Manufacturers Association of Canada. She can be reached at: michelle_morrell@awmac.com
Editor’s Note: We are thrilled to be able to add the Architectural Woodwork Manufacturers Association of Canada to our impressive list of industry expert columnists. Through this column, you will be informed about AWMAC’s many important initiatives, the organization itself and important issues affecting our industry.


In the Fall of 2016, I was invited to an interview with the Architectural Woodwork Manufacturers Association of Canada, better known as AWMAC, for the position of association manager.
I must admit, I was beyond excited as I knew of AWMAC through my previous experience with an architect’s association. On the days leading up to my interview, I dove into AWMAC, reading every piece of information I could get my hands on, formulated ideas and developed questions (I had a lot of questions). Finally, the day arrived. Upon arrival, Chris Weening, National Director for the Southern Alberta Chapter greeted me and shortly after, introduced me to Larry White, national vice-president. As the interview began, I quickly realized that for the first time in my career, I didn’t want the interview to end. We had already begun developing plans for AWMAC and if I could, I would have kept going.
Almost two years later, I often reflect on that day. It was the day that I realized how much passion one could have when they find the thing that makes their heart sing. And, it isn’t just me. If you know the people of AWMAC, we are all singing the same tune.
Through the hundreds of AWMAC directors, committee members and staff across Canada, it is apparent; we love AWMAC. I see it in our committee members who faithfully contribute countless hours of their personal time to develop and enhance AWMAC’s programs. I see it in our directors (who are often also committee members) that even with the responsibility of leading their association in their region, do so with thought, integrity and drive. I see it in our staff who magically continue to make things happen as if each day has 12 hours instead of eight.
Why? It’s rather simple. We all have trust in AWMAC.
And, it’s not just our AWMAC team that has this trust. Recently, AWMAC took on a major undertaking to understand the needs and motivators of our members and the architectural woodwork industry as a whole. Through meetings, phone calls and surveys with AWMAC stakeholders, our findings show that the common point from 
which every AWMAC stakeholder draws value is AWMAC’s ability to provide trust. In short, to be associated with AWMAC brings a level of trust, competence and credibility.
How does AWMAC provide trust? Have a look at what 
trust provides for some of 
our stakeholders:

Manufacturer Members
Provides a standard for all manufacturing activities (trust)

Associate Members
Provides a competitive advantage by participating in industry credibility (trust)

Architects and Designers
Provides an assurance that what is specified is what is built (trust)

GIS Customers
Ensures compliance to AWMAC’s Standards (trust)

Educational Institutions
Provides a means to stay relevant and connected to the industry (trust)

AWMAC has more than trust in their pocket, the research also shows that AWMAC:
• Is dedicated to the highest quality in all aspects of architectural woodwork
• Promotes adherence to its quality standards to ensure competence and credibility
• Is in constant pursuit of innovation through collaboration; and
• Acts as the educational voice for the industry which raises up a sustainable workforce and methods.

How does AWMAC deliver on all of these attributes? It’s programs. AWMAC’s Standards and the Guarantee and Inspection Service are the key contributors to its success (aside from our amazing people of course).
If you are not already aware of AWMAC’s Standards and Guarantee and Inspection Service (GIS), here is a little summary.
In 2016, AWMAC and the Woodwork Institute (WI) set forth to collaboratively develop a new, progressive, architectural woodwork standard for the manufacturing and installation of architectural woodwork in North America. The North American Architectural Woodwork Standards 3.1 (NAAWS 3.1) was released on July 1, 2017 in both Canada and the U.S. and is widely known as “AWMAC’s Standards” in Canada.
AWMAC’s Standards are not only used by manufacturers and installers, they have been adopted as the architectural woodwork standards by a vast amount of design professionals responsible 
for design, detailing and specification of millwork across Canada. AWMAC’s Standards assist design professionals to specify a variety of millwork products which meet the functional and esthetic requirements of their clients.
AWMAC’s Standards are also used as an educational training tool in woodworking, architecture, and interior design programs in colleges and universities across Canada.
Best of all, AWMAC’s Standards are accessible to anyone for free at www.naaws-committee.com.
The Guarantee and Inspection Service, initiated by AWMAC’s British Columbia Chapter in 1990 and adopted as a national program in 1994, builds on AWMAC’s Standards and is designed to ensure that project owners receive quality and value for their investment through monitoring and verification of the architectural woodwork at all stages and includes:
• Pre-tender review
• Submittals review
• Sample unit inspection
• Progress inspection
• Final site inspection

To further enhance the GIS, a two-year Certificate of Guarantee is offered by AWMAC once all criteria is met.
AWMAC has many other programs and initiatives that develop, promote and educate the architectural woodwork industry. Our annual national convention, hosted by a different regional chapter each year, fosters education, networking and recognition of industry leaders. The National Contest for Apprentices and Students in Cabinetmaking encourages students to test their skills and gain further awareness of the industry. Our new Students Standards Questionnaire (SSQ) enables students to utilize and familiarize themselves with AWMAC’s Standards and our recent Tool Bag Program is a collaboration with educational institutes to support and recognize students through a free tool bag and tools.
As this is AWMAC’s first column in Woodworking Canada, we look forward to sharing more content and initiatives with you in the future. I encourage you to reach out to AWMAC to let us know what you would like to hear and of course, if you would like to learn more about AWMAC.

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