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Alone we are smart, together we are brilliant

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CKCA by Sandra Wood
CMP, Executive Director, CKCA

Photo: Woodworking

CKCA recently hosted its first face-to face-event in more than 31 months with record attendance. While we have all adapted to tools like Zoom, clearly that in person connection is still highly prized and rightfully so.
With no shortage of conversation, you could feel the synergy at our National Forum. With a packed agenda, attendees were exposed to a wide range of manufacturing facilities as well as informative educational sessions and much-welcomed networking.
I had a number of attendees tell me how much they enjoyed the sense of community that was clearly felt at this event, perhaps more so than usual. Some were genuinely surprised by the level of acceptance and willingness by others to share insights or open their doors to host tours.  But the truth is when this industry gets together, it’s always that way and it’s a real pleasure to watch when you know everyone is benefitting from it.
Whether attendees walked away with a new piece of information, a different perspective, a new contact, or a new idea, the bottom line is they took something back to their business.  
Some highlights of what we saw:
Blum Canada’s headquarters in Mississauga hosted a pre-conference reception and tour to show us their new and innovative warehouse facilities and beautiful large showroom. Iris Sharofi, general manager of Blum Canada and her team were excited to show us their innovative building. If you haven’t been yet, you really should check it out. The amount of product they move accurately with such a small warehouse team will make your jaw drop. This world-class hardware supplier has made distribution an art, add in their beautiful showroom and you realize this company does everything well.
Chervin Kitchens is proud to share their vision and values. In fact, it’s the first thing you see when you enter their building and it’s truly impressive. Kevin Bauman shared the history of the company, but what was clearly the most important to him was their people. This company is down to earth and humble with an impressive manufacturing facility that is poised to adapt to all the advances in manufacturing. It’s a family business with the next generation already working in the company; its clear Chervin is here for the long term. But with all the changes that advanced manufacturing will bring, one thing we won’t change at Chervin is their strong sense of purpose and pride of their people and their products. Their positive attitude and strong company culture is a great example to inspire the industry.
Royce/Ayr was a different kind of tour taking us away from the typical kitchen manufacturing shop and through a facility manufacturing tooling parts. Learning about how something is made that woodworkers use every day deepened the appreciation for the science behind cutting tools, but beyond that, a better understanding of how these tools should be used and what they’re capable of. The good news is they are manufacturing in Canada, but even better is that their expertise resides here, which means customers have access to the education needed to get the most from Royce/Ayr products.  No wonder they were happy to open their doors and host a tour as they have so much expertise to share. What a valuable resource they are for our industry.
Conestoga College is a jewel in our industry boasting one of North America’s largest woodworking training centres. They have fed countless skilled workers into our industry (a number were attending the forum).
We also tried something slightly different and welcomed the chance to meet and tour the Bachelor of Design program, first, second and third year students. Meeting these students and helping them to better understand the opportunities in the kitchen industry was priceless. Some manufacturers worked the crowd (which we wanted them to do), by handing out materials and business cards to students. We will continue to do more of this in the future with other college programs across Canada, leveraging the CKCA events as an opportunity to reach out to the college or high schools in the area and bring industry (future employers) to them. Now, more than ever, we need to build those bridges and tap those feeder lanes.
Barzotti Woodworking is a family run business with huge manufacturing space that many attendees would dream to have. A wide spectrum of machinery for mass production as one would expect in a shop of this size, but they had their hidden gems and we were able to chat to a couple of them. One senior worker told us that he loved his job and that’s why he keeps doing it and will for as long as he can. He also then directed us to his neighbouring worker who he said was “an excellent cabinetmaker.” We were directed to a young lady working in the next station over. She was humble, shy, and when asked why she was doing this job her response was simple “I love to build things.” We are so thankful to Paul Barzotti and his entire family for welcoming us to their shop.
Woodland Horizon has embraced lean manufacturing and technology to run as efficiently as possible. This company works closely with Planit Canada to make full use of what their software is capable of to improve efficiencies throughout the shop. With computer screens at every workstation, the technology is very evident. Woodland tracks every cabinet part using an extensive labeling system. A beautiful blend of lean manufacturing and technology Woodland Horizon is all about continual improvement. As part of that, they recognized that hosting a tour also meant an opportunity to invite comments from their peers who were touring their facility. This humble and gracious company shows you don’t have to be a big shop to be impressive!
Kraemer Kitchens was the last stop of a full day of tours and while small, they are mighty. Very effectively using a small factory footprint, they are one of only a handful of companies with an installation of a multi-level (two-story, mezzanine) inventory storage/automatic machinery loading system in Canada. As the sponsor of this tour, Taurus Craco, said “Kraemer Kitchens serves as a great example of achievable machinery automation/efficiency possibilities for the average small to medium sized kitchen cabinet producer.”
These tours, along with panel presentation on the Future of the Industry (which was so well received we will be hosting a webinar to continue that conversation – details soon), plus a presentation on how the field of sales is changing, all added even more value. We finished off with a face-to-face version of the monthly manufacturers’ roundtable, now a permanent fixture of the CKCA calendar. Manufacturers are welcome to sign up by contacting
All this programming cannot happen without our sponsors. As CKCA Membership Chair, Giuseppe Castrucci (Laurysen Kitchens) said “do business with a supplier who supports the industry.” Why not make the dollars you spend on supplies work for you that much more? Support the suppliers who support the industry, it’s a win-win.
This event really had a great community vibe. If you missed it, don’t worry, we have another event coming up Feb. 6-7, in Richmond, B.C. plus we’ll be hosting the next National Forum in New Brunswick next September, details coming soon. But we’re also continuing our on-line connections so there are different ways to stay connected. I saw this quote, which I think sums up what I observed at this years national forum and I think this is true in general:
“Alone we are smart.Together we are brilliant.”

If you’d like to see more photos and details about the national forum you can go to

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