Tuesday - Friday | August 25-28, 2020

Georgia World Congress Center | Atlanta, GA | USA

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Strong Leadership is Essential - Top Management’s Role in a Lean Manufacturing Transformation

23. May 2018 11:39

By: Larry O'Keefe, LJ OKeefe,Inc.

I remember my first coach from Toyota explaining that by implementing TPS (Lean Manufacturing) we could expect outstanding results. Productivity should double, inventory and floor space requirements would be cut in half. At the time this seemed an outrageous claim.

Three years later and our operation had more than doubled our net profit after tax to about 15% of sales, inventory turns increased from 13 to 42, a planned plant expansion was cancelled, overtime was virtually eliminated.

Subsequent implementations would sometimes see very similar results but some would barely experience any improvement.

The technical tools used were the same in every instance. Skill levels and motivation (and lack of motivation) were not significantly different in any of these operations. Some of the best results were actually seen in union shops.

The difference was in how top management attempted to embrace and implement the change. Some leaders were hands off but very supportive with strong change agents, others were very hands on and led by example. The plants that failed had leaders that delegated to people that already had full time responsibilities but expected them to take on the additional role of transforming the organization without adequate resources and support. The most spectacular failures occurred when leadership expected some type of improvement without any direction, support or resources to get the job done.

Implementing Lean Manufacturing can appear to be very simple, like losing weight. All you have to do is eat right and exercise. Simple concepts, easy to grasp, it should be simple. Yet after all these years there are many more failed attempts than successful examples.

How is this possible, given that Toyota freely shares the method upon which ‘lean manufacturing’ is built (even with General Motors at NUMMI, a joint venture)? And yet, GM failed to learn from this venture even though many GM employees went to NUMMI to study and learn.

Much is required of top management, they have many roles and responsibilities that demand their attention. Every new management philosophy or ‘flavor of the month’ that claims to be capable of delivering outstanding results claims to need the full attention of top management. It seems an impossible task. Somehow top management at Toyota seems to be able to keep moving forward after many decades of implementing TPS.

Some of the items I will be discussing at IWF 2018 include:

  • Challenge the organization to the ideal condition
    • Highlighting or creating the need to change
    • Respond to the need
      • Short term and long term
      • Performance indicators/measures
      • Support structures
      • Breaking down obstacles
      • Encouraging through organizational culture
  • Create an environment where the shop floor can manage itself
    • Visual factory
    • People development
    • Decisions made on shop floor

Learn more about this subject during Larry's session, "Leading Change, Top Management's Role in a Lean Manufacturing Transformation" at the IWF 2018 Education Conference.


Are You Afraid of Concrete Countertops?

21. May 2018 13:24

By: Jeff Girard, The Concrete Countertop Institute

You may have heard the following about concrete countertops:

- They're high maintenance and stain prone.

- They must be thick and heavy.

- They sell for cheap because concrete is cheap.

- They are suitable only for modern or industrial design.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Concrete is the hottest new surface, and it is high end, custom and opens up endless design possibilities. High quality concrete can be refined or rustic, as thin as 3/4" or as thick as desired, flat countertops or 3-dimensional creations.

The possibilities are endless with concrete countertops, and I'll show you myriad examples as well as give you fundamental practical knowledge in "Leapfrog from Laminate to High End Concrete" on Friday, August 24th from 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM. Join me, and learn to love concrete countertops!


Cold Metal Casting and Reproduction for Furniture Embellishment - Part 2

21. May 2018 13:19

By: Scott Grove, Furniture Designer: ScottGrove.com

Cold metal resin casting is a straightforward process: A flexible mold is taken from an initial form or “master pattern” in just about any shape and/or material and then cast with a metal filled resin.

In brief, the process goes like is this: mount your master pattern object into a container like a yogurt cup, then mix the mold compound and pour it into the container, wait for it to cure (the time varies depending on which compound you use), remove the mold from the cup and partially cut open the mold just enough to remove the original object.

Then, you mix the casting resin with real bronze powder and pour it into the mold. Wait until it cures (5 -15 minutes) and remove it from the mold. Buff with steel wool to shine it up, rub in a little black shoe polish to give it some depth and voila! You’ve created a cold metal resin casting.

Using Smooth-on™ products makes this process easy and affordable and you can create one of a kind or multiple metal composite casting.

Join me for Cold Metal Casting and Reproduction for Furniture Embellishment on Friday, August 24th from 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM


When does information become knowledge? Part 2

21. May 2018 13:12

In the olden days, master craftsmen would pass their knowledge and skill down to their apprentices. Apprentices turned into journeymen, and after many years, they themselves became masters, with apprentices of their own. The apprentice process took years, each technique was practiced and proven, and there was a master craftsman overseeing and correcting their grasshoppers and padawans.

When I apprenticed as a carpenter, I recall my master saying that any carpenter can make mistakes (we all do), but it is the good ones that can correct them, quickly, with no one begin the wiser. For me, this is the crux of this topic. Anyone can tell you how to do something like cut a dovetail, set up a band saw, and spray a finish. But how to tell when something goes wrong intentionally or simply when Murphy’s Law pops up, is the key to mastery.

We’ve all know great master craftsmen who can’t teach, and one can only learn through hours of watching and trying as an apprentice. We all read articles that recommend tools and materials and believe that they’re the best; we attend schools and learn from masters in a week long class. We also see YouTubers that sound knowledgeable and are very entertaining, but how do we know if their information is any good?

The fact is, with advertisers, sponsorships, and pay-to-play arrangements, ciphering out what is good information can be challenging at best. Can the number of likes, subscribers, hits, and views be a gauge? Or is it simply the success of the entertainer and/or marketing team? One would think that survival of the fittest would be in play, but that’s not necessarily the case: I’ve seen some very high quality and informative outlets go under for being too informative and not entertaining enough.

In today’s attention-deficit society, it seems all information needs to be obtained from a two-minute video, a 500-word article, or a two-day weekend course that give just enough information and entertainment to satisfy the thirsty craftsman, giving them just enough knowledge to go cut down a tree.

Please join me to discuss these and other questions with a panel of media experts: we’ll weed through all the information and get to the truth during the "When Does Information Become Knowledge?" session on Thursday, August 23rd from 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM.

Panel members include:

Will Sampson, Editor, FDMC Magazine

Greg Larson, Director, New England School of Architectural Woodwork

Jim Hamilton, Author and Host, Stumpy Nubs Woodworking YouTube channel

George Vondriska, Host, Woodworkers Guild of America


Health vs. Wealth

18. May 2018 15:37

By Jessica McNaughton, CaraGreen

The biggest change to come to the building industry in a long time is putting people first.  Traditional construction mentality has been “How do we achieve the owner’s goals while also meeting the budget and putting more money in my pocket?” 

The new way of thinking is “How do I make sure the occupants have a pleasant experience in this space?”  This is evidenced by the new WELL Building Standard.  Occupant health and productivity are the main objectives of the standard. It is gaining momentum as a complementary and competing standard to LEED.  While LEED focused on building systems and operation, with some elements of occupant health being considered, you could have a LEED certified building with no evidence of any consideration for the well-being of the occupants.  With WELL, every design element is evident and its purpose is clear.  Organic fruit provided in the kitchen, an herb garden, flexible seating and daylighting are all clear implementations of the WELL standard.  And while LEED is a complicated acronym that tries to tie the environment in with design, WELL means just that: WELL.  Design well and your employees should be well. That is the whole premise.

Biophilic design is a hot topic in the design world, addressing the innate human need to be part of nature.  As we deprive ourselves and our children of more and more time outside, we are creating a gap between our need to be with nature and the actual time we spend around these natural elements.  An easy solution for that is to incorporate these natural elements into the built space.  There are many techniques one can implement to do that, many of which are spelled out in the principles of Biophilic design.  These techniques are much of the underpinning of the WELL Standard.

I know, I know- not another building standard.  LEED was hard to stomach the first time around, and then with the v4 revisions it was shunned by many.  Where was my ROI? What is this going to cost me?  Show me some actual data- I want facts to drive my hard work and money.  And there was none to show because it was so new.

The WELL Standard and Biophilic Design were created based on data compiled as early as 2013.  Data that shows patients have shorter hospital stays and use less medication when exposed to Biophilic techniques.  Data that shows employees are substantially more productive.  Students and Teachers are much less absent when they are in an environment that incorporates nature views and proper daylighting.

How does this tie into building materials? 

Product manufacturers have struggled for years trying to be “green’ and find their path to market.  Because they were more costly, they were either not considered or the first to go during the value engineering process.  Recycled content was not enough to get them in the door. 

But now the path is becoming clearer for those that have survived.

Incorporating color is a factor in Biophilic Design, (picture vibrant greens, earthy browns) extensive studies show color can stimulate the mind.  Warm, organic surfaces or textured surfaces are more engaging than cold and smooth.  Wood grains evoke nature, and reclaimed and textured wood surfaces are playful, inviting.  Acoustic treatments with shapes or vibrant colors can not only liven up a space, but they can make it more pleasant for employees by dampening sound.  

As a distributor, we at CaraGreen have amassed the brands that we have found to be good environmental stewards, while bringing beautiful materials to market.  We have also found that this leads to cultivating a suite of materials that encompass the Biophilic Principles. 

“People first” is not a passing trend, nor is our need to be part of nature.  There are real measured phenomena that make our lives better.  Our health should not be overlooked to save a few dollars.  The associated benefits of enhanced employee well-being, through increased productivity and loyalty, also backed by numerous counts of data and reports, is just another reason to follow these revolutionary design principles.  Employees and occupants will not only be healthier, but will also perform better in a variety of situations.  Through the WELL standard and Biophilic Design there is finally a path to market for these amazing materials that have been waiting for their opportunity to contribute to human health.   Our health is our biggest asset, and building owners are starting to take note by putting less in their pocket for a healthier, more productive workforce.

Learn more about this subject at the Wood Products and Biophilic Design session at the IWF 2018 Education Conference.

Original content from CaraGreen©.



IWF Finishing Symposium will feature high-def digital staining on plywood

18. May 2018 15:32

ATLANTA -- The IWF Finishing Symposium will be held August 21, 2018 in the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, the day before IWF exhibits open on the show floor.

The full-day event will look at new technologies and best methods that finishers could use in their business. Newer finishes such as polyester, polyurethane and UV finishes will be discussed, along with water-borne and low-emission products.

For the first time, there will be a presentation describing digital printing and staining, an emerging technology more wood products manufacturers are considering, by Don Kuser of North American Plywood.

Earlier, North American Plywood launched DesignPly, a new panel offering based on a first of its kind digital staining technology.

The highly-automated production incorporates a high-speed wide-array inkjet press engine paired with robotic materials handling for on-load and off-load of materials in process.

Printing direct to substrate, North American Plywood has adapted an Inca Onset high-definition inkjet press into its panel processing system, employing a carefully calibrated digital staining and finishing process.

Employing instantaneous UV curing, the DesignPly system can replicate a variety of wood grain and other patterns to achieve the effect of top-grain veneer species in bookmatch or other patterns, on particleboard, MDF, metal and melamine panel.

Learn more about this topic at the Finishing Symposium at the IWF 2018 Education Conference.











Technology and the Human Hand: Are We Losing Touch?

17. May 2018 16:05

By: Scott Grove, ScottGrove.com

Ever since I started woodworking I have wondered: Does technology compromise my craftsmanship? I would buy the latest and greatest gizmo that would give me better accuracy and speed, and then a friend would jokingly say, well, that’s just cheating.

In recent years technology advances have made working with wood easier. Wood can now be cut, carved, and shaped more precisely and more quickly with a CNC machine than one could ever have hoped to imagine. We are now at a stage in the game where furniture can be completely designed and created with the push of a button. As a businessman, I embrace this efficiency, but sometimes I wonder if I am losing touch with my craft. Am I still a maker, a “real” craftsman? Or am I being redefined as a designer and assembler? Where is the line between them?

In Western society, we dwell on imperfection as a flaw and often consider it a failure or subpar, shoddy craftsmanship. Even the term “craft” can have a negative connotation. But are we missing the fact that these flaws represent the human touch? OR do we and society want perfection no matter how it is achieved? Some will argue that the design and even the manufacture is still a craft, but is it? Really?

Obviously there are more questions than clear answers here. But one thing is for sure: Technology is here to stay and will keep advancing, helping us to become faster and more accurate, work more quickly and more cost effectively. The technological craftsman is a reality and our trade is splintering in two.

The dilemma is: How to use technology without losing touch with our craftsmanship? Or is that just cheating?  Be a part of the conversation during the Technology and the Human Hand - Are We Losing Touch session at the IWF Conference on Wednesday, August 22nd from 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM.

For a 9 minute TedX talk overview of this discussion, please visit https://imaginegrove.com/

Scott Grove, ScottGrove.com ImagineGrove.com


The Most Effective Leadership Practice

17. May 2018 15:56

By: Cyndi Gave, The Metiss Group

When it comes to leading others within an organization, the most effective leadership practice is weekly one-on-one meetings between a leader and their direct reports.

It accelerates performance because the one-on-one is all about the direct report and their needs.  Specifically, the leader should ask:

  • What is going on at work and in life that might impact performance or effectiveness this week;
  • What activities are the direct report focused on this week;
  • What obstacles have they run into;
  • What resources are needed?

When the direct report believes this simple 30 minutes each week is completely dedicated by the leader to focus on their success, the engagement and passion for results is unbelievable.

Additionally, these meetings create trust between the direct report and the leader.  When a direct report knows their leader will share information, trust soars.

This is not the time for the leader to micromanage; the focus of the one-on-one is on the direct report and their needs – the leader is the resource, not the solution.

You can learn more about this subject during the Anticipating and Overcoming Predictable Barriers to Growth session at the IWF 2018 Education Conference.



Think On Your Feet?

14. May 2018 09:53

By: Monique MacKinnon, Energetic Evolution

Thinking clearly, quickly and decisively in response to important matters is a valuable skill and strategy. Woodworkers who have the ability to think on their feet are self-confident with their craft, including related decisions.

When you the woodworking professional experience technical complications – such as significant-enough errors in judgment or your craft – how do you: Mediate this situation? Compensate for this resource-wise, if and when required? Who takes responsibility and the potential ‘hit’, as well as decides the next step?

Measuring Twice and Cutting Once doesn’t guarantee that woodworking will ever be black and white.

In How to be Visionary, Create BOLD Results in Uncertainty (BMG13), you will learn how to Up-level your Thinking On Your Feet and visionary skills plus qualitative and quantitative results. Guaranteed, you will walk away with the Eagle Soaring Tool.

Bonus: Come prepared with your practical questions, even ethical ones, and you will benefit that much more!



14. May 2018 09:45

By: Chrisitne Corelli, Christine Corelli and Associates

It goes without saying that developing a reputation for superior customer service is an imperative for business success. But I’m always saying it!  So should you – to your employees. Customers don’t need much of an excuse to head over to your competitor if your business falls even the slightest bit short in the level of service you provide. And in today’s highly competitive marketplace, you can’t afford to lose even one customer.

The Experience Matters!

We hear so much talk today about providing a consistently great “customer experience,” and the importance of putting the “Wow” factor into that experience. We also hear a great deal about consistently improving processes and procedures to make it easy for the customer to do business with us. Yet, there are far too many organizations that have not even mastered the basics. 

First Things First – Master the Basics

Basic Five Step Process to Serving Customers

  • Answer the phone and greet customers in a friendly and highly professional manner.

“XYZ Cabinetry, this is Susan how may I direct your call?”

“XYZ Woodworking Equipment, this is John, how may I help you?”

If you know the customer be sure to make them feel important. “Oh, hello Mr. Smith, how are you today?”  Remember Norm from the TV Show Cheers and why he was so well loved and remembered till this day?  It’s because he knew everyone’s name!

When a new customer walks in to your place of business, walk toward them and extend your hand as you say, “Hello, I’m John. What brings you in today?” (Not, “Can I help you?” …too boring!)

       2)  Ask how you can help and LISTEN.

Perhaps the biggest difference in the way we did business in the past and how we will need to do    it in the future is that we will have to be better listeners. Demonstrate you are listening by maintaining eye contact, and reconfirming what the customer wants. This is often referred to ask “paraphrasing.” As my colleague Jeffrey Gitomer says,

                              “You will never listen yourself out of a customer.”

       3)  Help customers.

Tell them what you will do and do it. It’s the most important part of your job. If   the customer                has a problem, take ownership to resolve the problem. Refrain from simply handing it off to                   someone else.  Remember to provide the customer with more help than they ever dreamed               would be possible. This includes being far more knowledgeable than any of your competitors.

       4)  Ask what more you can do.

Never hang up or say goodbye without asking “Is there anything more I can do for you today?”

       5.)  Thank customers for their business

Customers want to be appreciated—very appreciated.  Never take them for granted. Thank them often and especially if they give you a referral. If they give you a referral that results in business, by all means send them a gift.

 More Basics but Some of the Best Things to Do

  • Make a positive first impression.

Your appearance is important. There’s nothing worse than walking into a place of business and being ignored by the person behind the counter because they are on a personal call.  Today’s scrutinizing customers may think that if a dealership is lax with professionalism, they may be lax in the level of service it provides or in the quality of their workmanship.  Make it mandatory that techs wear uniforms, and front-line employees dress in a professional manner.

Your equipment, cabinetry, or woodworking products and the way they are displayed should be impressive, but your facility is also a part of your presentation. When a customer walks into your place of business, it should shout cleanliness and orderliness. The outside of your facility should be nicely landscaped and without debris anywhere near the building. Your washrooms should be immaculately clean. If you think these things are not important to customers, you are dead wrong!

  • Respect the customer and be courteous at all times.

Customers are spending their hard-earned money at your place of business. Give them respect and courtesy, even if they are difficult. Never judge or correct them. Refrain from saying, “Why didn’t you tell the installer?!

       Demonstrate an urgency to serve. If you don’t, customers will go elsewhere.

  • Answer every call by the third ring. Sound “ready to serve. ”
  • Return calls promptly and in no longer than 90 mins.
  • Find parts fast. Train others to jump in and help you when needed.
  • Provide the fastest field assistance possible.
  • Handle complaints with professionalism.

When a customer is angry, diffuse the situation by applying "verbal cushions," a communication technique taught by customer service trainers. These words and phrases “cushion” a customer's complaint and will help you to service them more effectively. The verbal cushions below communicate a sense of concern, promote cooperation, and display empathy. Memorize them so that you can apply them in challenging situations.

  • "I apologize this occurred, John."
  • "I can understand why you are upset.”
  • "I'm very sorry this has happened to you."
  • "I apologize if there's been a misunderstanding."
  • "I can understand why you would be unhappy."
  • "I understand your position."
  • "Thank you for bringing this to my attention."
  • "I agree with you completely. This is crucial to the job you're doing."
  • “I recognize the urgency involved. Let me take care of this immediately.”
  • “I want you to walk of here as a happy customer.”
  • Apply the highest levels of communication

            - Use words and phrases that impress customers 

               “How can I help you today?”

               “Is there anything more I can do for you today?”

               “My pleasure.”

                “You’re more than welcome.”

                “I will keep you informed of our progress.”

                “We appreciate your business.” “How was the level of service today?”

            -  Parts and service managers – ask the customer

              “How would you like me to follow up?”

  • Over-communicate with customers and your internal customers. Make sure all departments have all important information they need. Let them know when you can get back to them with an answer.
  • Reach out - Call customers even if it’s only to keep them informed on what you are doing to help them.
  •  Build trust.
  • Do what you say you are going to do.
  • Follow up
  • Fix it on time, fix it right the first time.
  • Deliver it on time
  • Never make a promise you can’t keep.
  • Exceed expectations.

This is an important basic of customer service. Exceeding expectations in every way possible, is by far, the best way to obtain customer loyalty. Strive to exceed expectations at every opportunity and stand on your head for your customers.  When you exceed a customer’s expectations you are delivering what they purchased and more.  Here’s a rule to follow:

Always give customers far more than they ever imagined.

Once you and everyone in your company have mastered the basics of customer service, think of how you can add value, make it easier for customers to do business with you, streamline processes and procedures, and examine “Moments of Truth” – (each time a customer provides you with an opportunity to impress them). Then, add the “Wow” factor.

If you do, you will be in a better position to establish higher levels of customer loyalty and maintain strength in the marketplace.

With unrivaled expertise, strive to deliver intuitive and proactive customer service and a consistently superior customer experience.

Learn more about this topic during Christine's session "Seven Steps to Service Excellence" during the IWF 2018 Education Conference.

© 2018, Christine Corelli & Associates, Inc.  Christine Corelli has had a distinguished 25 year career as an international keynote speaker, workshop facilitator, and business columnist. She has authored business six books, including the best-selling, Wake Up and Smell the Competition. Her clients are characterized by Fortune 500 companies, major trade associations, and an abundance of mid-size and small companies. Attend her sessions at IWF Atlanta! To learn more visit https://www.christinespeaks.com - To contact her for an upcoming meeting, conference or special event, call (847) 477-7376.