Tuesday - Friday | August 25-28, 2020

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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.



1. May 2016 13:37


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

Certainly, you want to make sure that you “get what you pay for.”  So, how is this done?  Certainly, the grading rules for hardwood lumber from the NHLA are a key factor.  Softwood rules are not as detailed.  In this session, we will review some of the finer points of NHLA Lumber Grading Rules.  We will discuss certification.  We will also go into detail on other characteristics of lumber could be important to you but are not part of the Rules.  LEARN THE FACTS ABOUT GARDES.

Come learn more about this topic at Analyzing Incoming Lumber session at the IWF 2016 Education Conference.



29. April 2016 10:04


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

Every glue joint (edge joints or laminated joints) as the potential to be much stronger than the wood itself.  So, a glue joint should never fail- -in manufacturing and in use.  The wood should be the weak link that fails.  But glue joints do fail, although some operations might have only a dozen failures per year.  Learn how to make a strong joint and learn techniques for troubleshooting defects from two of the world’s leading PRACTICAL experts on gluing wood.  We will give you some guidelines, rules of thumb, and practical ideas from our years of experience.

Come learn more about this topic at Rx FOR GLUING WOOD- -PRACTICAL TIPS AND TROUBLESHOOTING DEFECTS session at the IWF 2016 Education Conference.


Selection Processes Reduce Chances Of Poor Hires

29. April 2016 09:53

Selection Processes Reduce Chances Of Poor Hires

Cyndi Gave, President : The Metiss Group

Select (verb) – To choose in preference to another or others; pick out (Random House Dictionary).

Process (noun) – A series of actions, changes, or functions bringing about a result (Random House Dictionary).

A selection process should consist of a series of actions to bring about an ideal choice of candidates.  Many leaders rely on intuition, gut instinct, or some haphazard interview approach when choosing among candidates.  The best hiring managers use a defined, repeatable process for selecting talent.

The selection process should include three phases:

1.  Job and ideal candidate definition;

2.  Candidate screening;

3.  Candidate evaluation.

Define the job and ideal candidate in the definition phase clarifying what is expected of the job and what the ideal candidate will look like.  The screening phase should include consistent behavior-based questioning and assessments that tie back to the job and candidate definitions.  The evaluation phase should analyze gaps and discrepancies between observed candidate behavior and job and candidate requirements.

Hiring managers should define the steps in the selection process, stick to them, and empower those in the selection process for success.



25. April 2016 10:10


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

It is surprising how the basic wood characteristics and properties affect the manufacturing process.  Therefore, it is possible to improve sawing, routing, gluing, finishing, etc. by learning about the basics.  The presenter is known for his ability to take the technical and translate it into practical.  Questions to be answered include What is the difference between hardwoods and softwoods?  What is the difference between dense woods, like oak, and low density woods like soft maple?  What are the typical properties of wood that affect gluing, machine and finishing?

Come learn more about this topic at Wood 101. All about Wood for Manufacturers and Woodworkers session at the IWF 2016 Education Conference.


Pricing for Profitability

25. April 2016 10:06

Pricing for Profitability

By: David Buschsbaum, Owner, Sales Manager and Chief Engineer: Beacon Custom Woodwork, Inc.

Labor, material, overhead and profit; the four basic elements to pricing. Or are they? The business world thinks in terms of fixed and variable expenses, depreciation of assets, gross margin, and breakeven points.  If you are running a business it’s critical to know how much it’s costing you to stay in business every day of the year and how much of your product or service you need to sell to cover those costs.

There’s only one way to stay in business - charge enough to cover your true costs.  By understanding your real costs of opening and operating a business you’ll have a better handle on how much you need to charge, and how much you need to sell every week or every month just to keep your doors open. 

It’s important to understand the difference between overhead, or the cost of operating your business, and the ‘cost of goods sold’, or what you spend in materials, labor and expenses to actually produce your work, and the relationship those numbers have to your total amount of sales.

With a solid framework of basic financial knowledge and a simple Excel spreadsheet you can keep track of your gross margin and determine your breakeven point – the point at which you cover your overhead and begin to create profit.  What’s yours?  We can show you how to find out.

We’ll look for hidden fixed and variable expenses, discuss how and why to consider depreciation of assets, how to calculate owner/operator value, and how to determine your “true” hourly rate based on efficiencies – and it may surprise you.     

Think like a cabinetmaker and you will spend your days making cabinets.  If you want to grow your business, create wealth for your family and your employees and really contribute to your community, you have to start thinking like a business owner.  Find out what you need to know to be able to price your work at a profit.

To learn more on this subject register for the Pricing for Profitability session at the IWF 2016 Education Conference.


Conflict Can Destroy You or Make You Great

22. April 2016 07:10

Conflict Can Destroy You or Make You Great

By Christine Corelli, IWF Conference Speaker


When you think of the word “conflict” you likely associate it with the words friction, disharmony, rivalry, disagreement, clash, dissonance, disunity, and yes…stress. “Not seeing eye-to-eye” might come to mind as well. None of these conditions are healthy, but they are not uncommon in any business.

Get Real

Realistically, a business or a life without conflict is a pipedream! We don’t live in a perfect world. There are no perfect people, perfect teams, or perfect companies.  But when conflict occurs or exists in the workplace, it must be resolved. If it is not, it can to negative and unproductive consequences - anxiety, victimization, anger, intimidation, blame, resentment, morale problems, even power plays that intensify problems and waste time and energy. This holds true whether conflict exists between two individuals, teams, or even between departments or branches.

What happens if you ignore conflict

Not being willing to resolve conflict can make it fester, destroy relationships and create an unhealthy work environment.  Even if the conflict is just between two individuals, it makes others uncomfortable, and tends to create a negative work environment. This can impact your bottom line in a big way.

Good news

The good news is that most conflict can be resolved and worked out in mutually satisfactory ways.  Often, there are workable options that an individual will not even see until they become open to the concept of working through the conflict, rather than allowing problems and people to fester.   It can even be a healthy way to bring important issues to light and strengthen relationships.

Common causes

Common causes of conflict in the workplace are rarely about things. Most are about respect. For example, if you or anyone in your company has experienced any of these feelings you will have a conflict situation.

•  “My right to decide is being weakened.”                                 

•  "I feel taken for granted."

•  “My right to control is being jeopardized.”                                           

•  "Why should I say anything? It doesn’t do any good.”

•  “My judgment and my ideas are not being considered.”

•  “I never get credit for anything.”

•  “My prestige and my status are being questioned.”

•   “I never feel I am appreciated for anything.”         

•  “My feelings don’t count here.”

•  "I feel unfairly treated, defeated, powerless, inferior.”      

•  "I know I'm right and they won't listen to me."

What do people do when they have any of these feelings? They either dig and their heels and fight, or they retreat. They stop coming forth with ideas. They go through the motions of their job and cease to put forth any real effort because they feel undervalued and underappreciated.

More Causes - Personality Clashes

Sometimes, conflict can occur when there are personality clashes with people. One person may not like the other individual’s work style. Another cause can be a lack of understanding between left-brained, and right-brained people. “Number’s Guys,” or analytical people may not be able to understand and relate to highly creative people. Jealousy over someone’s salary, or someone else getting credit instead of the person who should get credit can also create conflict.

Your Culture, Itself can Cause Conflict

Far too often, today’s workplace environment triggers it. Think about your workplace. If any of these conditions exist, you don’t have a healthy work environment, and you do not have a workplace for high-performance, where teamwork, respect, and service excellence permeate your company.

•  Too much competition and not collaboration, such as when successful

   branches do not share best practices or top sales pros don’t help new sales


• “Territorialism” or “Us Vs. Them” mentality

•  Negativity and bad attitudes that pull people down instead of a bringing a

    positive attitude to work each day.

•  Changes put into place and decisions being made without getting opinions of those that will be affected.

•  Personality clashes in the leadership team             

•  Favoritism from management instead of “We are all equals.”

•  “Micro-managing,” instead of training to enable people, then


•  Under-performers who get away with doing only what is required, where top

    performers must take up the slack

•  Too much “red-tape” instead of simple, and easy processes and procedures

•  Lack of respect for others’ opinions, ideas, and feelings




Steps to handle conflict with another individual -

Sometimes it’s best to walk away until you calm down and think about how you will handle the conflict. Sometimes it’s handling a situation right on the spot.

What is most important is to build and maintain relationships that work.

Step # 1 – Manage Your State of Mind

To successfully resolve conflict open-minded, begin by willing to let go of blame, or any issues from the past. Instead focus on “fixing” the issue or relationship.  Keep your emotions in control, and be willing to listen to the other person put yourself in their position.

Step # 2  - Communicate with the other individual and in privacy.

Address the situation and be assertive. Not to be confused with aggressive people, assertive people have a high-affinity for themselves and for others.   They know what they want, and how they feel.  Most important, they know how to communicate those feelings to others in a non-combative manner.  They are usually healthy both physically and mentally because they can express themselves and they rarely keep things inside.  They have a high sense of self-esteem. Learn to be assertive, and learn how to communicate with tact and diplomacy.

Step # 3 –Ask how you can make things better, or help the situation.

This may be the most important step. Stating with honesty and sincerity that you want to resolve the conflict situation, is vital to conflict resolution.

Step # 4 – Listen

As you listen to the other person’s position.  Demonstrate that you are listening.

Interject with, “I see.”  “I understand.

Step # 5 – Resolve!

Let the person know you have heard them and understand their position.

Supply the answer, but in the form of a question.                                                           

“What would happen if we can agree to…”

“It would really help me if …”

“How about if I work on __________ and if you will agree to                                            

Step # 6 - Ask for cooperation-don’t demand it. 

“Can I rely on you to...”

“Will you please?

“It would really help me if...”

“I would appreciate if you would...”

"How about if we agree to…"                                                                                         

Step # 7 Finish in a friendly fashion. 

Reaffirm your support and ask for theirs.

“I’m glad we had this talk. Can we agree to...”                                                         

“ I appreciate your cooperation."                                                          

“I’m confident we can...”

“Let’s both try…”              

Managing Conflict Between Departments or Teams

Encourage your employees to work together through their problems and conflicts in ways that work in your company’s best interest. Ask them to be open to negotiating conflicts and strive for balance.

 Competition doesn’t work. No one wins.

Remind your people that competition is the least effective method of handling conflict.  It is harmful because it intimidates people into agreement.  Individuals can become engrossed in the conflict, and be unable to separate themselves from the situation.

Collaboration works for organizational success.

Direct your team to collaborate as it is the best method of handling conflict. When people collaborate, there is a sense of trust, partnership, and coalition that come into play.  People are encouraged to generate potential solutions.  Positions are not taken, but opinions are expressed. The conflict resolution process should be an open forum for the exchange of ideas and information.  Most important, instruct them to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences.  Remind them to not be afraid to put themselves in a vulnerable situation, because they need to consider your organization’s success and a great place to come to work each day should be their main goal.

10 Keys to Avoid Conflict in Your Culture

Avoid conflict situations in your culture with these ten keys.

  1. Everything starts and stops with leadership. Your entire leadership team should be trained on how to display dynamic leadership and treat every employee as well as they treat your best customers. Agree that no favoritism shall be displayed, and that they spend significant time to help every employee perform their job role exceptionally well. Most important, employees should be appreciated on a regular if not daily basis.  If you are a family-owned business, take off your “family” hat and display the same respect as you would if you were not relatives. 
  2. Hold regular phone conferences with branch managers to share Best practice
  3. Have your top salesperson facilitate a session how share how they are achieving success.
  4.  Train your staff on teamwork, customer service that includes internal customer service and sales. Make sure each department understands each others’ pressures and how every individual’s department affects another.
  5. Confront negative people and explain how negativity can hold back an entire team. 
  6. Ask for peoples’ opinions. This demonstrates that you respect them. 
  7.  Hold weekly meetings with GM’s, Sales Managers, and Parts and Service Managers.  Start your meeting with what went well the previous week, where improvement is needed, who is performing and who is not performing.
  8. Nip problems in the bud. When any type of conflict occurs, handle it immediately. If you are experiencing conflict with an individual, set up a time to talk and follow the seven steps. Before you do, ask yourself if you are the problem.
  9. Have your employees create “guiding principals” for how you will treat each other in the workplace. Be sure to have them include – How to Be Proactive in Preventing Problems, and how to cut red tape.
  10. Always know what’s going on in your company. That requires keeping your eyes and ears open, and asking these types of questions –

    “Is there anything I should know about?”

    “How is the new hire working out?”

    “How is the team performing?”

    “Is there anything I can do to help you?

The Bottom Line

Conflict can be resolved and even avoided if individuals have a sincere desire to do so. Letting little things go, turning the other cheek, accepting differences of opinions, letting go of the past, forgiving, compromising or at least meeting each other half-way, accepting people as they are, are just a few ways conflict can be resolved or even avoided between individuals.

Resolving conflict between departments and teams requires that you recognize your culture can make you or break you.  Work toward creating the type of culture where people enjoy coming to work each day.

There’s more you can do! Participate in the IWF educational sessions!

©Copyright, 2016, Christine Corelli & Associates, Inc. - Christine Corelli is a popular 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. To learn more visit www.christinespeaks.com, or call 847 477 7376