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CKCA by Sandra Wood
CMP, Executive Director, CKCA
It’s been a really busy first quarter of 2023 for CKCA, how about you? We started off the year with a webinar on the Future of the Industry. This webinar (which is available on our website) was based on a presentation by four industry experts in a panel discussion at the CKCA National Forum in September. It was so well received we decided to offer it again through a webinar so it could be recorded and accessible to the industry. If you’re making plans for the future of your business, this is a video you want to watch and share with your staff.

Manufacturers Roundtable – Last Thursday of every month
Immediately following the webinar we delivered another monthly manufacturers’ roundtable on Zoom. CKCA manufacturing members across the country can hop on a call (last Thursday of every month at 1 p.m. ET) and just talk shop with other manufacturers. It’s a great way to ask questions of the industry and to find out what others are doing.

Western Regional Event was sold out
CKCA hit a first in early February with a sold-out regional event in Richmond, B.C. For our first face-to-face in B.C. in three years (thanks to COVID) we were caught by surprise to see the attendance numbers surpass what we saw last September in Ontario – and that was a record breaker too.
It’s great to see our industry coming together and clearly the more that come, the better the event. The amount of conversation and networking that took place during the regional event was amazing. We packed in 2.5 days of back-to-back tours showcasing a wide range of businesses from a small shop such as Lauten Woodworking in North Vancouver, to a larger shop including Nickels Cabinets in Richmond, B.C. Dieter Nickels and Ted Federeau welcomed us and shared their experiences with implementing Kaizen. Nickels is a great and stable business and their operations are well organized. It was also great to return again to Sunrise Kitchens in Surrey, B.C. to see the results of their expansion. Last time we were there in 2020 only the shell of the new building was in place. Sunrise has not had an easy time of expanding during a pandemic, but their new operations are impressive and captivated the interest of attendees.  
Whether the shops we toured were large or small, each one had something unique to offer. We toured Leon Lebeniste a different kind of woodshop in Squamish, B.C. The building was spectacular as were the operations inside. Definitely a young, hip company (with a very sweet barista coffee machine), this company felt something like Google headquarters. The layout was spacious with a lot of technology. This company thrives on innovation and has a talented team, which clearly enjoys the bike-to-work lifestyle (we did notice the full bike rack). But if you saw the backdrop of their operations (surrounded by mountains), it isn’t perhaps as much of a surprise to see the culture they have created in their business.  We also had a return tour of Sofo Kitchens to see their new space. This company is passionate and engaged, they asked as many questions as they answered. They are a company that 
is open to learning from their peers and it was 
great to see that happening during the tour.  
As part of the Western Regional we also toured the Centre for Advanced Wood Processing at UBC. We have visited CAWP before, but this time we got to meet some of the 4th year students in the wood processing degree program. These well-educated students are not the future finishers in your shop; they are being groomed for bigger things from management and operations to research and tech. These students asked serious questions in a town hall that challenged us. Pete Fournier, CKCA president and Peter Mater, Planit Canada were the moderators, fielding questions that stumped us at times. There were a number of environmental questions on waste and recovery as well as on trends and industry demographics. It was great to be challenged and to see this next generation come with a different view on wood processing.

New HR tools
While we’ve been busy keeping the industry connected through events, we’ve also launched a series of videos to start profiling different jobs in the kitchen cabinet industry. Our goal is to create a library of interviews with people in different roles and make these videos available as part of a career toolkit we are building for members. In addition, CKCA has launched some HR programs that give members access to HR services because we often hear that HR is a big pain point in many companies. We’ve also partnered with a national video provider to encourage members to think about creating video as part of their recruitment strategy. Gone are the days where you’d just post a job on a website and get a dozen resumes, now companies are having to sell themselves and they’re doing it using video.  We recently saw a great example of a job posting where Aya Kitchens had included a video that spoke to their values and culture. If you wanted to get an idea of what it might be like to work at Aya, their video painted that picture well. We are hearing from members that they are not as pressed at this time to find labour because the market has slowed, but we all know once interest rates stabilize, the need to build more homes in Canada will continue at an alarming rate and that will drive a lot of business for our industry.

The Industry is blowing up
The bottom line is the industry is not standing still. As one member said in our video “the industry is blowing up”. This is true, we are hearing and seeing this all the time at CKCA. It’s exciting and, at times, a little daunting. But meeting the industry face to face is a pleasant reminder of the great people in this industry. So don’t work in isolation. Connect with your industry and learn from others. Because the challenges our industry is facing will not be overcome individually. We’re going to need to get together and talk. It’s really no different than what we do when we host events and I think those who attended our recent events will tell you it’s one of the best things you can do for your business.

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