The Bluewater Wood Alliance is Canada’s only managed Wood Manufacturer driven, not-for-profit cluster organization.
Contributed by Mike Baker, Executive Director Bluewater Wood Alliance
Clustering has existed for over 30 years in Europe and is modeled after the concept of taking an industry with common needs and challenges; bringing together manufacturers, supply chain, government stake holders, and training institutions in a collaborative environment for knowledge transfer, sharing of best practices, and much more. A managed cluster like the Bluewater Wood Alliance (BWA) creates an environment of innovation that increases competitiveness in local, national and international markets.
Above: Mike Baker Executive Director of the BWA kicking off the September Quarterly Networking Event
The idea is to bring like-minded companies together for the purpose of joint projects in skills development, technology transfer, export development and experience exchanges in a bottom-up driven association.
The advanced wood manufacturing sector in southwestern Ontario alone accounts for approximately 1,400 SME companies representing 22,500 employees with $5.2 billion in revenues out of the total $6.6 billion for all of Ontario. As a consumer and further processor of Canadian wood bio-mass products, this sector is extremely important to the economy of Canada for job and wealth creation in our communities. Exports from this sector in this region also touch $3.5 billion (Conference Board of Canada, 2016).
Above: The BWA Cluster covers the whole of Southwestern Ontario.
The advanced wood products manufacturing industry includes home, office and institutional furniture, solid wood flooring, veneer production, cabinets, and millwork. BWA aims to bring as many of these companies into the cluster as would like to join, as well as interested supply chain companies from Southwestern Ontario.
Above: BWA manufacturing members walk through Doma Doors Mfg. Ltd. facility on October 9th, 2019.
Benefits of working as a cluster include:
- Access to specialized training, services and workers.
- Participate in collaborative projects.
- Sharing of information and expertise.
- Information sharing facilitates faster innovation.
- Innovation fostered within a cluster increases competitiveness in local, national and international markets.
Our Members have access to resources and events that focus on growth and success.
Learning, Plant Tour & Networking Events:
Our events focus on a variety of topics such as continuous improvement, new technologies, social media, finance and lean principles. Networking events provide a venue for members to develop strategic industry relationships.
Export Development Initiatives:
The Bluewater Wood Alliance seeks out export opportunities and explores them for the betterment of our members. We continue to be successful in accessing government support to attend trade missions in new markets overseas.
Collaborative Project Funding:
We develop and facilitate projects for our members to support their sustainability, growth, and continuous improvement. We work together with our government partners to support these projects.
A key to being competitive, both locally and in global markets, is the ability to learn about and adopt new technologies. The Bluewater Wood Alliance is committed to monitoring and sharing technological advancements in wood processing and wood-related IT.
Training & Skills Development:
Working with the community colleges, high schools and independent providers in the region, the Alliance is creating programs for training and skills development. The beneﬁt to members is to enhance employees skills, and provide access to new workers with the right ones.
The Bluewater Wood Alliance website offers access to our members form to talk with other members online as well as access to information on events, collaborative projects, programs and training sessions.
The primary mission of this organization is to increase our members’ competitiveness by improving their know-how, raising their powers of innovation and increasing internationalization.
The vision is for the Alliance to lead in the management of a cluster organization in support of its members’ increased competitiveness in wood products manufacturing in Ontario.
Together we’re strengthening Ontario’s wood manufacturing future.