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Follow Harley-Davidson Motor Company - ASK QUESTIONS AND LISTEN

16. May 2016 06:33

Follow Harley-Davidson Motor Company


By: Christine Corelli

Like every other company, Harley-Davidson has had its ups and downs, but it's history teaches us a lesson. It made news (and a fortune) by asking a great questions. Here's the short version of this amazing success story.

For many years, Honda had been far outdistancing Harley in the motorcycle marketplace. Executives at Harley struggled to find the answer to this dilemma and make their mark in the motorcycle manufacturing business. Finally, the Harley execs assembled their entire workforce, including their assembly line workers, and asked them directly, "What ideas do you have to help us increase our market share?"

The response was amazing. The ideas that came from their own employees led Harley in the right direction. Some of the suggestions that day and thereafter were to take the opposite approach to marketing and advertising from Honda, develop a clothing and accessory line, and make it a status symbol to own a Harley. They also recommended that Harley's marketing and advertising department initiate campaigns targeting executives and women, something they had not done in the past. Since their culture at the manufacturing plant was such that all employees were considered "family," they also suggested that they make their dealers and customers feel like family too.

You know the rest of the story. Harley put their employees' ideas to work and became a competitor to Honda, with a highly impressive increase in market share. Not willing to cease their practice of employee involvement in their decision-making, Harley leaders continue to ask employees at all levels for their input and ideas. Today, Harley-Davidson is adapting to the changing global marketplace and it's still considered a status symbol to own one of their motorcycles, wear their clothing, and own any of their merchandise. And, they have an ever-growing number of loyal executive and female riders who are part of the Harley "family."

In addition, they know how to make their customers feel like family. They achieved this success by asking a basic question—"What ideas do you have?" And they credit their success to their greatest asset—the combined brainpower of their people.

Talking is not enough

How about you and your business? Think about it. Business experts report that eighty five percent of your career success is in direct proportion to your ability to communicate. I disagree. I believe that the ability to communicate in any given situation determines your success—not just in business—but also in life.

One of the most effective communication techniques is not what you would think. Most people would say that a significant amount of talking is the basis of the best techniques in communication. Taking a lesson from Harley, the more effective approach is asking questions.

Talking is one-sided. You just hear yourself speak—and you already know what is on your mind. What you don't know, and need to find out, is what is on the other person's mind. That allows you to expand your world. You hear ideas, uncover problems, and discover the opinions, and concerns of your customers, potential customers, and employees. You gain greater insights into what is happening in your business or service delivery. You learn ways to resolve conflicts. Most important of all, asking questions leads to good listening skills, which will help you build quality relationships.

When you ask questions, customers or prospects know immediately that they are important and that you care about their wants, needs, problems, and desires. When you ask an employee a question, you demonstrate that you respect his or her opinion and provide a voice in your decision-making process.

Active listening for sales success

Nowhere is the "art of great questioning" more crucial than in sales. Recall a lesson from Sales 101—"Mediocre sales people talk when they should be listening and listening is a function of asking. Superior sales pros ask questions to get the customer to talk. You'll never listen yourself out of a sale but you have to ask questions first."

Top sales pros create and memorize a matrix of great questions to ask customers and prospects:

• "What do you want to accomplish?"

• "What can I show you today?"

• "What are you using now?"

• "What are some problems you've had with your woodworking equipment in the past?"

• "What questions or concerns do you have?"

• "Have I answered all of your questions?"

• "Would you like a demo?" 

• "How's that big project going for you?"

• "What would be most convenient for you?"

These are just a few examples of questions that apply to almost any sales situation. They may seem obvious, but they work. Develop your own great questions, apply them, analyze what works, and memorize them to use in various scenarios.

Another basic principle from Sales 101 is "to ask for the sale." This means that you fire the final, most important question at the appropriate moment.

"Are you ready to move forward?"

"Would you like me to write it up?"

Asking for the sale should be second nature to you. Memorizing the right questions will increase your ability to close.

Asking questions helps you to learn about your level of service, build strong customer relationships, and establish higher levels of customer loyalty. Some of the more effective questions are as follows:

• "Were you pleased with our service?"

• "Is there anything more I can do for you today?"

If you have a loyal customer it's always smart to dig a little deeper.

• "What do you like about doing business with us?" 

• "What should we start doing?"

• "What should we stop doing?"

• "What should we do better?"

Every employee in your business with customer contact should ask questions with every interaction—questions that demonstrate friendliness, customer care and professionalism. These enhance customer relationships and build trust:

• "How are you today?"

• "How can I be of service?"

• "Have I answered all your questions?"

• "How do you like the new finish on the wood?”

• "How's your business doing?"

• "Is there anything more I can do for you today?"

Building strength from the inside out

Asking for input from your employees has been proven to boost morale. Unfortunately, many employees have learned not to speak up and share their thoughts, ideas, and concerns with superiors because they fear repercussions. Therefore, you must ask them direct questions. Smart business leaders regularly ask employees for suggestions and comments:

• "What are complaints do you hear most often? "

• "What more can we do to improve service and demonstrate we are truly a customer-focused company?"

• "Do you know any cabinet makers who might want to work with us?”

One of the most direct questions you should ask on a regular basis to uncover problems within your company, or with customers is "Is there anything I should I know about?" The answers could surprise you and avert a potentially damaging situation. Asking is the first step in being prepared.

Below are additional tips to apply when you are asking questions:

Tips on asking questions the right way

Always ask a direct question.
Most of the time it is better be direct to receive the appropriate answer to your questions. This is especially true when you are interacting with a passive person or making an effort to resolve conflict. Questions such as,

"John, what are your thoughts and opinions?",

"Joe, I'm sensing you are not happy. What's bothering you?" or

"Joe, I know we don't always see eye to eye, and we've even butted heads a few times. What can I do to straighten things out with you?" will go a long way to getting a response you can act upon. And if ask in a soft voice and sincere manner, it will show the person you care.

Stay "you" conscious.
When interacting with others, refrain from saying "I" as much as possible and stay "you" conscious. You do this by removing the personal pronoun and always turning your phrases toward the recipient. For example: "How do you feel about the idea?" "What are your thoughts?" "What's the most important thing to you about what was just discussed?"

Use the person's name in your question.
If you are speaking one on one, always use the person's name. This may seem obvious to you, but many people forget to do this simple rule. Don't ignore it—you will make the receiver feel important and more receptive to what you have to say. For example, "Joe, I'd like to speak with you again next week, would that be agreeable to you?" When speaking to a group, say something similar to the following— "John, Susan, Harry, that wraps it up. What comments or questions do you have?"

Observe non-verbal communication.
Asking questions is an excellent communication skill because it provides you with an opportunity to discover your listeners' personality and observe his or her body language so you can determine whether it's best to continue speaking, ask more questions and listen, or shift gears. Watch for scowls, frowns, signs of boredom, looks of disbelief, or smirks. If you identify your prospect as becoming disenchanted, immediately ask, "What are your concerns?" or "Do you have reservations?" or "What are your thoughts?" Often, these questions will correct the communication problem and involve the recipient in the exchange.

Winning employees over means great rewards for all

I experienced a real world situation where asking questions helped a new leader win the hearts of a nervous group of employees. Recently, I was a guest speaker at a company meeting where the owner was retiring and the son was becoming the new president. The purpose of the meeting was to ease fears about the transition. Most of the employees had worked for the father for many years and they were worried about what to expect from this sharp young MBA. Some were worried that they would lose their job.

In the first few minutes, he broke the ice and changed the atmosphere in the room with these words: "In the next several weeks, I will be speaking one on one with each of you. Here are the questions I will be asking you today and in the weeks ahead.

   • "What can I help you do help you enjoy your job more?"
   • "What skills do you need?"
   • "What might be preventing you from performing your job more effectively?" 
   • "What do you like about our company?"
   • "What can we do better?"
   • "How can we streamline what we do, eliminate red-tape, and keep you and our customers happy?"
   • "What can I do to make sure you and our customers feel like family?

He concluded by saying that he wanted to know from each and every one of them the answer to one final question—"What would you do if you were the new president of this company?" His entire staff broke into applause. Smart man! He scored and a positive transition was underway.

It can be habit-forming

Make it a habit to ask questions until it becomes second nature. It will improve your interpersonal skills in both business and social settings. Remember, questions lead to answers. Answers lead to rapport. Rapport leads to uncovering what others are thinking so you can respond or take action accordingly. When you craft your questions perfectly, you will dramatically improve your communication and social skills.

Don't forget to ask questions to demonstrate you are connected to customers and employees as human beings, too—"How's your family?", "How's your golf game these days?" or "Did you enjoy your vacation?"

You will benefit ten-fold from perfecting the art of asking questions: It will help you in business and in your personal life as well. Think about how might significantly increase the odds in your favor if you ask questions such as, "How was your day today?", "How did you do in school today, son?", "How would you like to watch the game with me tonight?", "Is there anything I can do for you?", or even "How are you feeling today Mom?" Makes sense, doesn't it?

Remember, eighty-five percent of your overall success in LIFE is in direct proportion to your ability to communicate. Life is for the asking so ask away.


©Copyright, 2015, Christine Corelli & Associates, Inc. - Christine Corelli is an international conference speaker, business columnist, consultant, and author of six business books including the best selling Wake Up and Smell the Competition and Capture Your Competitors’ Customers and KEEP Them. She has worked with numerous companies in the woodworking and related industries. To learn more visit www.christinespeaks.com, or call 847 477 7376






NFPA 652: What the Woodworking Industry Needs to Know

14. May 2016 06:24


NFPA 652: What the Woodworking Industry Needs to Know

By Brad Carr

President, SonicAire

In all situations, it is always dangerous if you don’t know what you don’t know.  This is especially true of combustible dust.  In this case, ignorance is not bliss.  It’s expensive, and more importantly, deadly. 

The risks from fugitive combustible dust continue to remain high for the woodworking industry.  Fugitive dust accumulates, forming a combustible cloud that results in explosions that destroy facilities and/or injure or kill employees.  Fines from combustible sawdust buildup are also increasing as standards become more stringent. In April 2016, the Canadian paper Prince George Citizen reported that WorkSafeBC fined Brink Forest Products, Ltd over $137, 000 for hazardous levels of sawdust accumulation. Two other wood products manufacturers incurred large fines in March for similar safety concerns. C&C Wood Products located in British Columbia was fined $68,121, and Conifex sawmill also located in BC was fined $75,000 for sawdust buildup.

These are just a few examples of high penalties, resulting from a lack of knowledge or lack of compliance – or both.  However, it’s hard to remain compliant with changing and confusing standards.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recently published a new standard on combustible dust - NFPA 652. The purpose was to clarify requirements; instead, in many sectors, it has caused more confusion than clarification. 

Woodworking industry professionals need the knowledge that best protects their businesses and employees from dangerous explosions and high fines for non-compliance. Below are highlighted the issues that matter within the NFPA 652 so those in the woodworking industry can take informed action.

What is the NFPA 652?

 NFPA 652 defines its scope as the following:

“This standard shall provide the basic principles of and requirements for identifying and managing the fire and explosion hazards of combustible dust and particulate solids.” 

In essence, it sets the standards that are fundamental requirements for all industries with combustible dust hazards.  NFPA 654 was once considered the umbrella standard, but its focus emphasizes the chemical processing industry. (NFPA 654 contains additional requirements that go beyond those in NFPA 652.) The new NFPA 652 sets a baseline for all other industries.  Together, these standards (general and industry-specific) provide a comprehensive framework for managing combustible dust hazards. 

During the development of NFPA 652, (Exponent, 8.11.15) there was debate over how to interact with existing commodity-specific combustible dust standards, when those standards contain differing requirements.  To accommodate those differences, NFPA 652 contains a conflict section on which standards take precedence when there is a discrepancy in requirements. 

What’s new in the NFPA 652?

Here are some of the changes in NFPA 652:

•     You cannot just look at the standards in NFPA 652 alone.  Instead, you have to consider both the new 652 standard and NFPA 654.

·         All companies that generate, process, handle or store combustible dusts or particulate solids need to have a dust hazard analysis (DHA) for their operations.  This is applied retroactively. 

•     A DHA is permitted to be phased in no later than three years from the effective date of the standard.

·         Each plant must have its own threshold level of allowable dust accumulations, set by owner or management.  From there, housekeeping methods will be developed, with appropriate documentation.

·         A management of change (MOC) plan is now required for certain changes made in any facility.

·         Operating equipment within an explosion hazard location must be isolated.

·         All buildings or areas with a dust deflagration hazard needs to be protected by either performance-based or prescriptive methods.

·         Overhead fans to limit dust accumulation have been identified specifically as a housekeeping solution

What now?

Now that you are better informed about the NFPA 652, you’re probably asking yourself how to move forward with your new knowledge.

What’s the smartest action that woodworking professionals should take in light of the changes to NFPA 652? Clearly, the safest solution that makes most business sense must be implemented.  And to do that, we need to know what is available, and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each option.  Stay tuned for my next post as I discuss the merits of an engineered vs. managed approach to dealing with combustible sawdust. 

Evironmental Effects of Moisture on Wood Flooring

13. May 2016 14:40

If there is one topic that seems to capture the attention of wood flooring professionals everywhere, it is moisture.  Too much and wood floors can cup or even buckle.  Too little and wood floors can gap or even split.  The key to optimum long-term performance is to maintain moisture in just the right balance, which involves a variety of steps before, during and after the installation takes place.


Wood is a hygroscopic material, which means that it gains or loses moisture in response to its environment.  In wet, humid conditions, wood will gain moisture and expand.  In dry, non-humid conditions, wood will lose moisture and shrink.  This is a natural reaction of wood and is completely normal.  The problem occurs when there is too much moisture, or too little.


Before wood floors arrive at the jobsite, all wet trades should be completed.  This includes foundations, drywall, paint, masonry work, and any other construction or remodeling activity that will introduce moisture to the environment.  Once these tasks are completed, and the HVAC is installed and running, the wood should be delivered to the job site and allowed to acclimate to the environment.  This can take several days depending on the species and type of wood being used, as well as the geographic location of the job site.


During installation, both the wood and the subfloor should be tested for moisture content.  Installation should not begin until moisture readings are within the ranges acceptable for the area.


After installation, most moisture issues can be avoided by maintaining a stable living environment.  This generally is accomplished by maintaining the temperature of the structure between 60 - 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity of the structure between 30 - 50%.


Proper maintenance can be an issue as well.  Water and steam mops should be avoided since both can introduce more moisture to the flooring.  Over time, this can dull the finish, and even damage the wood.


Sometimes, despite all these precautions, moisture still can wreak havoc on a wood floor.  Faulty dishwashers, overflowing sinks, leaky pipes, malfunctioning ice makers, careless homeowners – all these problems can introduce moisture to wood floors, causing significant damage if ignored and untreated.  Once this happens, the moisture source must be found and eliminated.


Moisture and other environmental issues related to wood floors will be presented at the IWF Wood Flooring Symposium on Tuesday, August 23 from 8am – noon by the National Wood Flooring Association’s VP of Education & Certification, Brett Miller.  The NWFA also provides a number of workshops in addition to detailed guidelines about moisture issues relating to wood floors.  For more information, contact the NWFA at 800.422.4556 (USA and Canada), 636.519.9663 (international), or at www.nwfa.org.


Managing is Leading: Find and Develop Your Personal Leadership Style

10. May 2016 15:26

Managing is Leading: Find and Develop Your Personal Leadership Style

By Norb Slowikowski

The highest functioning form of management is leadership.  But there is an inefficiency in today’s market – not enough people know how to manage and lead. Too many managers look at only the bottom line, rather than the correct process you need to successfully get to that bottom line.  Utilizing the right process in a forward-thinking way is true leadership. That’s what really separates the “great” from the merely “good.”

Technical skills are knowledge. You can learn that in a step-by-step format.  But teaching people how to lead, communicate and be accountable is much more difficult.  It’s a different mindset that says, invest in your people and ensure that they succeed.  Then, if they don’t succeed, step in to provide accountability. In order to do that, we need to expend the same amount of time on the management side as we do the technical side.  Then we can develop spectators into truly effective managers.

So, are you ready to take the next step and become an effective leader? If the answer is “Yes,” then Managing is Leading is the perfect program for you. In this seminar, participants will explore leadership roles such as strategist, change agent, coach, manager, communicator and team member. We will also discuss how to develop your own unique leadership style for maximum impact in your field.

It’s time to stop being a witness and start taking action.  Learn how to reinforce your leadership skills to find a new, value-added approach to being productive. With this in mind, there are five key elements of leadership that need to be emphasized if you are to be highly productive, effective and efficient. Let’s make our way through those elements.


   1.     Communicate and Clarify Expectations

          The supervisor and employee should reach mutual agreement in five basic areas:

  •  The work to be done.  Explain the quality standards and set a deadline for each task.
  • How the job fits into the total picture and why it is important.
  • Define the performance factors, i.e., quality, quantity, job budgets, safety and material and equipment control and customer relations.
  • How and when performance will be measured.  It may be through quantitative measures or a series of statements describing satisfactory performance.
  •  How performance will be rewarded, e.g., a pay for performance system.


    2.     Let Employees Know Where They Stand

Accentuate the positive.  Give your employees positive reinforcement when they do something well.  Make sure the feedback is specific, timely and relevant while focusing on results accomplished.  This type of feedback, like other leadership techniques, is another way of creating ownership for one’s job.  Remember, when you reinforce positive behavior, it tends to repeat itself.

    3.     Establish a Sound Communications Network

Effective leadership requires a network of communication that is both company and employee centered.  An approach to communication that goes beyond basic job information can accomplish several things.  It promotes a sense of identification, a feeling of being a key member of the team.  This in turn fosters the interest, commitment and closeness which are so important to harmony and cooperation.  A sound communication system breeds involvement and decreases the likelihood of an employee stating, “I just do my job.  That’s what I’m paid for.”  When people feel valued, they tend to be more productive and will enjoy coming to work everyday.

Look out for Part Two of this blog series, in which we will cover:

·       How to Establish a Positive Work Climate

·       Delegating Effectively

·       Specific Leadership Styles


Industry 4.0 - The Future of Manufacturing

9. May 2016 09:25

Industry 4.0 - The Future of Manufacturing

By: Urs Buehlmann, VT; Mathias Schmitt, White Rock LLC; Omar Espinoza, University of Minnesota; and David Maurer, Stiles Machinery

You may have heard the term Industry 4.0 in conversations or on TV.  However, most industry participants do not have a good understanding on what Industry 4.0 means and how it will shape our industry.  Some do not think the term means anything but suppliers and consultants trying to sell the "next big thing," others simply cannot imagine how it will change their business.  Others yet, see in Industry 4.0 the next industrial revolution and try to figure out how they can take advantage of the opportunities…

At this workshop, we will explain Industry 4.0, its origins, its promises, and its challenges.  In fact, we see Industry 4.0 as the sum of four disruptions: the astonishing rise in data volumes, computational power, and connectivity, especially new low-power wide-area networks; the emergence of analytics and business-intelligence capabilities; new forms of human-machine interaction such as touch interfaces and augmented-reality systems; and improvements in transferring digital instructions to the physical world, such as advanced robotics and 3-D printing.  All those trends individually do not make a revolution (the 4th in manufacturing, after the lean revolution in the 1970s, the outsourcing in the 1990s, and the automation since 2000), but their combined effect on how we do things can correctly be called a "revolution."  We will give you the background and show you examples how industry 4.0 is changing things in our industry and how you can take advantage of this new way of doing things.

Learn more about this subject by attending the "Industry 4.0 - The Future of Manufacturing" session at the IWF 2016 Education Conference.



9. May 2016 09:18


By: Eugene Wengert, President: The Wood Doctor's Rx, LLC

Quality loss due to machining issues can be very expensive.  If the piece must be discarded, this is expensive because the wood piece has a great deal of processing time and effort (translated as money) into it prior to the development of a defect.  If the defective piece is repairable, the time and effort of making the repair is expensive.  Some machining defects are due to poor drying (including incorrect MC).  Some defects are due to characteristics or properties of the wood itself (such as tension wood or grain angle).  Some defects are due to machine issues (feed speed, knife angels, etc.).  The basics of wood machining are discussed so that the attendee can easily zero in on the basic causes of the defects.

Come here more about this subject at the "Rx for Machining Wood: Practical Tips and Troubleshooting Defects" session at IWF 2016.


Lessons from Automotive Suppliers for Wood Products Manufacturer

5. May 2016 12:42

Lessons from Automotive Suppliers for Wood Products Manufacturers

By: Urs Buehlmann, VT; Mathias Schmitt, White Rock LLC; and Omar Espinoza, University of Minnesota

Ever wondered how you make a living when selling components to car manufacturers?  If you are dealing with car manufacturers, you are dealing with billion dollars companies that can choose and pick the supplier that offers the best value.  Even once you have established the connection to a manufacturer, you will face constant pressure to lower your price and face the constant danger that your customer will choose another company as the supplier of what you are selling.

Considering these situations, you may feel a little more comfortable dealing with the typical woodworking industry customer, local builders, architects, or even private customer who buy from you, but none of them big enough to create a crisis in your company if they drop out.

However, maybe there are lessons that can be learned from the tough competition reigning in the car manufacturing supplier business?  This workshop will focus on describing managements tools used by automotive suppliers to survive in their cutthroat business environment.  Serving a market that encompasses numerous suppliers but only very few, large buyers force suppliers to be highly competitive on a global scale.  What tools are such supplier`s using to achieve this level of performance?

We will show examples ranging from Lean, to Six Sigma, to Kepner Tregoe to describe how automotive suppliers continuously improve their performance to sustain their business.  The application of these tools to woodworking companies will then be discussed.

 No corporation needs to be convinced that in today’s scale-driven, technology-intensive global economy, partnerships are the supply chain’s lifeblood. Companies, especially in developed economies, buy more components and services from suppliers than they used to. The 100 biggest U.S. manufacturers spent 48 cents out of every dollar of sales in 2002 to buy materials, compared with 43 cents in 1996, according to Purchasing magazine’s estimates. Businesses are increasingly relying on their suppliers to reduce costs, improve quality, and develop new processes and products faster than their rivals’ vendors can. In fact, some organizations have started to evaluate whether they must continue to assemble products themselves or whether they can outsource production entirely. The issue isn’t whether companies should turn their arms-length relationships with suppliers into close partnerships, but how. Happily, the advice on that score is quite consistent: Experts agree that American corporations, like their Japanese rivals, should build supplier keiretsu: close-knit networks of vendors that continuously learn, improve, and prosper along with their parent companies. (Incidentally, we don’t mean that companies should create complex cross holdings of shares between themselves and their suppliers, the way Japanese firms do.) [FROM HBR 2004]

See more on this topic at the "Lessons from Automotive Supplier for Wood Products Manufacturer" session at the IWF 2016 Education Conference.


Colour Road Trend

4. May 2016 12:13

Colour Road trend – ‘Wind Poems’

By: Verena Becker, Corporate Design Management: RENOLIT SE

The environment we live in is in constant flux. Wherever you look – economic structures, social frameworks or the balance of political power – change is happening.
Needless to say this sea of dynamics influences trends, so it is no coincidence that the color and home trends for 2016/17 are influenced by a natural phenomenon that is in continuous movement, THE WIND.

During our sesssion "Discover the Moving Power of Colors", there will be a trend presentation "Colour Road 2016/17", in which we will discover different phenomena of wind - in words, in images, and of course in colors.

Ostensibly, the theme is all about the wind. However, at a metaphorical level, it touches on the profound changes happening around the world.

I would like to invite you traveling the Colour Road from fashion runways to their implications on interior colors and design trends.


Color Trends with John West of Color Marketing Group

4. May 2016 11:39

Click on the link below to check out the video below on Color Trends from John West of Color Marketing Group who will be co -presenting "Discover the Moving Power of Colors" session at the IWF 2016 Education Conference.


Color Trends - Video Link



Support Direct Reports’ Development

2. May 2016 13:11

Support Direct Reports’ Development

Cyndi Gave, President : The Metiss Group

For most, a new beginning brings on a renewed commitment to personal development and self-improvement.

Leaders should constantly be encouraging their direct reports to continually pursue personal and professional development (this should be covered during each quarterly review).  Based on this encouragement, chances are direct reports have personal and/or professional development goals in mind.

When leaders are presented with their direct report's development goal, their job is to help identify resources, provide encouragement, and hold them accountable (then get out of the way).  The resources a leader provides can be financial (reimbursement for expenses), contacts (people the leader knows who can help), or their experiences (how they developed in a particular area).  Leaders are not responsible for the development, just making sure their direct reports have what they need to achieve their goals.

Leaders who empower their direct reports to develop by assisting with resources, cheering them on, and following up on progress experience more success.