Session focuses on staying competitive

The U.S. Forest Service’s Wood Education and Resource Center in Princeton, W.Va., hosted a five-day workshop from March 5-9 called Wood Industry Week — a.k.a. WIW@WERC 2012. Co-sponsored by the Virginia Cooperative Extension, the event featured eight sessions designed to help wood industry businesses stay competitive in a global economy.

Presenters included the Forest Service, Virginia Tech, FP Innovations, North Carolina State University and West Virginia University.

Coordinated by Virginia Tech associate professor Urs Buehlmann, attendees learned about new trends and opportunities, how the wood industry is weathering the tough economy, customer expectations and more. But despite a rigorous advertising campaign, turnout was low with only five woodworking industry professionals and about two dozen forestry industry personnel.

“All of the woodworking industry members in Virginia and West Virginia got postcard announcements with an overview of the program. They were targeted specifically, but attendance was not successful,” says Buehlmann. “However, all of the materials presented will be available on the Web at www.wiwatwerc.com.”

Session topics included Enhancing Economic Competiveness through Going Green; Developing New Marketing Strategies; Mass Customization for the Wood Products Industry; Lean Manufacturing for the Small- and Medium-Sized Wood Product Companies; Making Effective Use of Technological Advancements, and Product Costing in the Wood Industry.

“What the [website] visitors will see is expert contributions from each topic listed. Mass customization, for example, is ideal for somebody pondering this for their business. They would find in this presentation that, for the first time ever, if mass customization pays in the furniture market and how much you can expect it to pay.”

Next year’s conference, WIW@WERC 2013, is scheduled for March 4-8. Buehlmann says the program will include a Marketing for the Small Shop seminar to help companies with few or no employees.

This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue.