During the 2019 Woodworking Industry Conference (WIC) in Amelia Island, FL, the Woodworking Machinery Industry Association (WMIA) recognized two companies and an educator for excellence, presenting them with the Association’s annual Wooden Globe Awards. Since 1989, the Wooden Globe Awards have been presented for notable success and achievements, accomplished in part through the use of high technology machinery and software supplied by WMIA-member companies, as well as in recognition of efforts to educate the future workforce.
Appalachian Wood Products, Inc. (AWP), Clearfield, PA, received the Commitment to Excellence through Technology Award, presented to a company which provides a shining example that continued investments in high technology machinery provide the necessary competitive advantage to compete successfully in today’s global market.
AWP is a major supplier of cabinet components, including doors, drawer fronts, door and cabinet framing, glued panels, moldings, and drawer parts for the kitchen and bath industry. In 1987, Dennis McCahan started this business with 13 employees in a 12,000-square-foot facility; they have grown to a 266,000-square-foot facility today. AWP’s philosophy is that they will invest in sound technology to compete in the marketplace. They invest to lower manufacturing costs, improve quality, reduce delivery times, and foster a safe working environment, all with the customer in mind.
John Mallery of Timesavers, LLC, nominated AWP for this award, and said, “AWP is a company that is always on the leading edge of technological innovation. When they cannot find a machine that will enhance their business in the marketplace, they will design one and make it themselves.
“Whenever I work on a project with Dennis,” Mallery continued, “he always has great ideas for improvements on the machines that we are quoting him. This also helps us to know what the marketplace may want and helps us improve our equipment.”
The Innovator Award is presented to a company which currently produces a unique and innovative wood-based product or utilizes an innovative process to produce a wood-based product using high technology machinery supplied by one or more WMIA-member companies. Fiber Commercial Technologies (FCT), Mankato, MN, was this year’s recipient, and was nominated by Jessica Freeseman, Wood Machinery Systems, Inc.
FCT has developed a new process to recycle carpeting out of our nation’s landfills and turn it into exterior building products. The finished product is not susceptible to mold, rot, or insects and is paintable and stainable just like wood. It has incredible strength and is installed like any traditional wood product. The principal owners of FCT were early innovators in the composite extruded decking business, diverting hundreds of millions of pounds of plastics from the landfills into high-end building products.
The business is based on turning used carpet from the landfills into usable composite product. The process starts by collection of carpet and preprocessing back into a fiber. The carpet fiber is granulated further and then resonated with glue – mimicking the same process used for making MDF or particleboard. The plant has a double opening Dieffenbacher 6 foot by 40-foot press used to condense the fibers into a flattened composite panel. The panels are cut to size and ripped into individual boards. They are then planed, sanded, and prefinished for the consumer. This one plant is capable of recycling over 70 million pounds of carpet, which subsequently, results in solving most of the carpet problem in the state of California. This equates to approximately 2,000 trucks annually of exterior building products which are durable, aesthetically pleasing, and environmentally friendly.
Mark D. Roberts, adjunct instructor at Mesa Community College, Mesa, AZ, received the 2019 Educator of the Year Award, which is presented to an educational institution or company with a structured curriculum tailored to training individuals for careers in the woodworking industry.
A graduate of Purdue University, Roberts taught at the high school level for 40 years, passionately directing individuals into woodworking careers. Concurrently, in 1979 he began teaching as an adjunct instructor at Mesa Community College. He teaches a variety of woodworking courses assisting individuals seeking new careers or exploration of a potential career. After 39 years, he is listed for 4 courses in the Spring of 2019.
Doug Hague, president of the Wood Technology Industry Institute (WTII), who nominated Roberts, said, “He is a passionate, determined, selfless, amazing man that truly cares about kids and their futures. He understands the opportunities to be had in the woodworking industry and how they are not just jobs but careers that will provide for a family.”
Hague and Roberts met during the 2010 International Woodworking Fair (IWF)—Roberts was trying to find an avenue for his students to pursue woodworking beyond a technical degree, and Hague was a professor at Pittsburg State University (PSU). When Roberts returned home to Arizona, he began telling students and their parents about the PSU program and the possibility of a four-year degree in woodworking. Each October he holds an information session about PSU for students from area high schools; this past year it had grown so large that it was hosted at two separate Arizona high schools on two separate nights.
Roberts labors daily to enhance the lives of others, sharing the opportunity and knowledge of the wood industry. His product, successful students, can be found working in the valley area, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri or attending college at PSU. Their work and impact can be found all throughout the United States and even some foreign countries.
Personally, if it was an award, I would nominate [Roberts] for educator of the century,” Hague remarked. “As a previous Educator Award winner, I do not take this prestigious title lightly. Mark is an outstanding citizen that will make WMIA proud and serve the title well. His advocacy work for our industry speaks for itself and the product he has placed serves our industry well.”