Always forward

Blair Tullis

What goes around comes around. It’s an adage that so aptly fits my musings today. Twelve years ago, I left Wood Industry and semi-retired to work on giving back to the industry that I had so much fun being a part of over the previous 20 years. Today, I am saying congratulations to MediaEdge, the new owners of the magazine I co-founded.

In recent years, a lot has changed in the industry and the old guard – of which I was part – has largely moved on to make way for new leadership across the country. Take, for example, the Wood Manufacturing Council, which has tirelessly worked to upgrade industry education and training since its origins in the 1990s.  It started out as the National Educational Initiative for the Furniture and Wood Products Industries and then morphed into a federally funded sector council. Although founding president Richard Lipman still runs a significantly different entity (due to the difficulties of maintaining funding in these interesting times), the board is now chaired by a graduate of the program at the University of British Columbia that the original NEI set up over 25 years ago, New Brunswick’s Pete Fournier.

Meanwhile, other industry stalwarts like Kevin Tratt of Blum, Peter Feindel of Taurus Craco, and Bruce Akhurst of Akhurst Machinery have retired and passed the reins to the next generation of hardware and machinery experts on whom we depend so much to keep up to date with industry trends. They taught their successors well and leave our industry in good shape to survive the disruptions of the past year.

It’s great to see so many groups working to keep the industry viable and healthy. The clustering concept, championed by the Bluewater Wood Alliance here in Ontario, has done a lot over the past decade to bring the province’s industry into the 21st century by sharing best practices and promoting lean manufacturing, to name just two initiatives. Elsewhere, QWEB and BCWood have done marvelous work helping their members in Quebec and British Columbia work together to find new markets for wood products at home and abroad. The CKCA continues to work towards establishing standards, like those embraced by AWMAC, that will help build markets for Canadian-made wood products.

In short, the industry moves on and our Canadian wood products manufacturing industry survives because of dedicated people striving to raise the level of the whole industry. I welcome the new management of Wood Industry to an exciting and vibrant industry, filled with good people who are doing their best to make a living and have some fun in the process. There will always be room in the industry for people who care and who want to make it better for all.

Blair Tullis has been a part of the value-added wood sector through his involvement with the Canadian Woodworking Machinery Distributors Association, the Wood Manufacturing Council and other industry groups.

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