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CKCA by Sandra Wood
CMP, Executive Director, CKCA
In my role as executive director of CKCA I have the pleasure of talking with people across the industry. In doing so I hear many perspectives and opinions. But one thing is clear. There’s a huge amount of experience and expertise in this industry that can help the industry move forward.
That’s why CKCA exists, to get at the ideas, the innovations, the expertise and share it with the industry. We know this is how the industry progresses. Even highly experienced manufacturers have more to learn.
People come into this industry out of a passion for wood, an aptitude for engineering, a family connection, a drive to own their own business and many other reasons. But no matter the reason, one thing most commonly talked about is how much people enjoy this sector and choose to stay.  

What keeps you up 
at night?
The path to success in this industry is not easy. It’s hard work, commitment, risk, long days and determination. We asked business owners what it was like in the beginning, what kept them up at night?  Here’s what they said:
All of the unknowns, will the business be there the next day?
Is the economy sustainable or will a recession kill us?
How can I increase sales?
Meeting delivery dates.
Not sure if I measured for the cabinets properly so that they would fit the space.
Worry about survival.
Finding profitable work.
Keeping employees.
Keeping up with what customers really need versus being told what they need.

Sound familiar? Are you dealing with one or more of these even now?  Rest assured you’re not alone, these are concerns echoed by new and highly experienced manufacturers.

Ingredients for success
The good news is that the industry is full of expertise to help you. Check out what these experienced business owners had to say when asked what they thought were the key ingredients to success:
Believe in yourself, set attainable goals and get them.
Embrace technology.
Keep up with the ever-changing industry look for environmental gains we can do to protect 
our environment.
Focus on the customer.
Be willing to learn, make yourself available to get out there to see what is happening in your industry, be willing to lead within your industry with new technology. You must work hard to surround yourself with great people that you can work with to share and build your vision for the future.
Be honest and transparent and willing to adapt to change.
Schedule your time efficiently. That includes taking time away from your routine to avoid getting tunnel vision.
Know your products, know your competitor’s products, be honest with yourself and treat people the way you would want to be treated.
Don’t be greedy. It’s better to love what you do and make a living rather than hate what you do and all the money in the world
Get involved in the CKCA - in order to improve, it is great to see how other companies function. Even if you are not in the same industry - the goal is to find one thing that a company does that can help within your own business. Having the opportunity to do plant tours is a major benefit of the CKCA.
Don’t think that you know it all. Listen to your peers and learn from those before you.

Experts across Canada
Recently we held the CKCA Regional event in Richmond, B.C. where we heard from a number of presenters, including Gerald Van Woudenberg of Van Arbour Design, a 30-year veteran in millwork who spoke about the value and importance of measuring your time. We also heard from Amrita Bhogal of Sunrise Kitchens who spoke about organizational health and building company culture in an expanding business.
At previous CKCA events across Canada we’ve learned about new home sensor technologies that can be sold as part of kitchen design. We’ve heard from a 40-year veteran of appliance installation and his words of advice for avoiding costly mistakes. We’ve heard lots about Lean manufacturing and we’ve heard from industry innovators who’ve developed tools to analyze all the data coming from the new technologies on the shop floor.
We’ve heard about ways to promote the industry to the next generation and we’ve seen what some of the solutions are for addressing the labour shortage. The list goes on and all these topics presented by industry experts willing to share their knowledge with you.
The next time you sign up for a CKCA event, don’t think of it as time spent out of the office, think of it as time well spent finding solutions to challenges that help move your business forward. The expertise is all around you if you are willing to listen and learn.

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