Chairman of the Board’s Message: May 2019

A New Chairman’s Welcome

I’d like to thank everyone for their support and their vote of confidence in electing me WMIA’s new chairman of the board along with a great group of officers and directors.

I have been involved with the WMIA and the WMDA before that for some 25 years. During those years I have seen many people that I really respect professionally lead this organization, and so it is a great honor and a privilege to follow in their footsteps and assume this position.

The association is in a strong position financially. We have added several new programs and services for our members, and the membership has been growing. The IWF show is growing in terms of booth space and attendees and with a new strategic plan in place we look forward to bigger and better IWF shows in the future.

With Dave Rakauskas’ guidance we introduced a new service technician training alongside our Boot Camp program. Both programs have been very popular with full classes. I look forward to continuing our partnership with WTII and Pittsburg State University as we work toward creating an advanced course for technicians as well.

We recognize the challenges we are all facing in trying to find new employees, so WMIA has become one of the leaders in the Wood Industry Resource Collaborative (WIRC), a multi-association collaborative working on changing the perceptions of the wood industry. WIRC is targeting high school students, those about to be released or recently released from the military, and individuals looking for a new career but have machinery skills from other manufacturing sectors.

We continue to reach students from all over North America with our scholarship program and I am encouraged that we are seeing an increasing number of females applying for these scholarships. In the coming year we will be developing a program to highlight the achievements of women in our industry in an effort to encourage more young women to consider a career in the wood products industry.

I am proud to lead WMIA for the next two years in partnership with a strong executive committee, an engaged board of directors, and enthusiastic committee chairs. We are also very fortunate to have an exceptional staff led by President and CEO Larry Hoffer and his team of Patricia Crisologo and Jody Allen. Without their hard work and dedication none of this would be possible.

I would like to thank and salute Dave Rakauskas for his steady leadership of the association over the last two years. I also want to thank Scott Mueller who is rolling off the board after serving for many, many years. His leadership through the tough years has helped put us in the great position we are in today. Thanks, Scott. We appreciate all you have done.

WMIA has made significant strides over the last several years and offers stronger benefits then ever before for all our members. But we can’t stop here. I look forward to, with your help, making the Association even stronger, delivering more educational programs that everyone can utilize.

This is your organization, if you have an idea or any thoughts on how you think this association could better serve its members please contact me personally.

Jim Besonen
WMIA Chairman of the Board