Woodland Supply has a reputation for taking quality into its own hands. Since 1965, the Manitoba-based company has thrived by its talent for adopting the techniques, technologies and people it needs to ensure its in-house manufacturing meets its high standards.
The company was founded by German immigrants who began their work in home-building but soon became dissatisfied with the quality of available building materials available, particularly when it came to cabinetry components.
“They wanted to work with better materials, so that’s when they decided to set up a show to build their own cabinets,” says Trevor Klassen, Partner and CEO at Woodland Supply.
Soon, the business expanded into manufacturing mouldings and stair parts. Then, when interest rates began to climb in the 1980s, the company switched its focus from building homes to supplying its high-quality products to Western Canadian Dealers.
The latest phase in Woodland’s evolution occurred when Klassen assumed ownership of the family business and recruited several former customers to join him in the new venture.
“I joined in 2014 to help my father-in-law, who was CEO then, grow the company. A couple of years ago, though, I was approached by one of our customers who wanted to partner on a different venture,” Klassen recalls. “That idea didn’t work out, but the customer and his brothers were lifelong carpenters and we really liked working together, so we identified Woodland as a good opportunity for the four of us to pursue.”
Those brothers – Justin, Matthew, and Andrew Enns – shook hands with Klassen and started a partnership that continues to flourish. Today, Woodland Supply serves lumber yards across Western Canada, with stair parts and wooden trim being their main product categories. The company’s custom interior doors have grown in popularity and demand, positioning Woodland as a competitive option within the higher-end residential market.
Building in-house capacity
Several generations later, Woodland’s originating emphasis on in-house quality control remains strong. Through continued investments and improvements, Woodland Supply has become a vertically integrated full-service facility, handling manufacturing and retailing of their high-demand products, as well as supply and installation through their sister company, Boreal Woodwork.
The pursuit of quality has also served as motivation to ensure Woodland’s workshop is embracing the latest technologies. Over the years, Klassen and his team have integrated a host of digital tools and technologies (e.g., five-axis CNC, CNC grinder) to improve efficiency and reduce costs, as well as data-driven backend infrastructure that empowers their craftspeople to succeed.
“Part of growth is understanding where to invest in new technologies and equipment that will get us properly introduced to industry 4.0,” notes Klassen. “We’re always focused on adding value with digital tools and reducing costs by being as fully integrated as possible. That means not only using the tools available to us but enabling our craftsmen to do their thing and giving them what they need to be successful.”
As is common for many woodworking operations, keeping that team intact has been difficult. Fortunately, says Klassen, the company’s reputation has served to attract and retain the people it needs to stay the course: “We’re thankful in that our culture has really helped us on that front. Yes, it’s a bit of a battle getting new people in the door, but that hasn’t been a bottleneck for us or something holding us back.”
Thanks to Woodland’s focus on cultivating a workplace that provides the support tools for its people to succeed, the company has retained many long-term professionals throughout the past years and across the ownership change.
“Our people are driving our growth and as a business owner, you really need to pay a lot of attention to your team and who you put on it, and then get out of the way and let them do their thing. That’s what’s going to drive your company forwarding our growth; and that’s the key to all this,” Klassen continues, noting.“
As for its mapping its own path ahead, Woodland Supply continues to focus on investing in the equipment and capabilities to enhance its cost-efficiency and productivity. At the same time, the team is working to build out its digital presence to boost its reach and streamline its customer interactions.
“We had no website when we started, but now we have something basic that we want to build out,” says Klassen. “We’re going to put a lot of time and energy into giving our customers digital tools through that website to make it much easier to do business with us.”
From a respected home builder to a trusted build products supplier, Woodland Supply is a testament to what happens when a commitment to quality is backed by the latest tech and a team that shares the same vision.
Matt Bradford is a writer, editor, and longtime contributor at MediaEdge’s Wood Industry e-digest and magazine. He has spent years reporting on the wood and construction industries and values the opportunity to provide insights into the secondary wood manufacturing community’s successes, challenges, and opportunities.