What we’re working on in 2023!

We’ve got a long to do list for 2023, but we’re excited!

With the help of our more than 30 industry volunteers who sit on our committees and our Board, we continue to work for our industry.

  • Help you connect and learn from others through two face to face events East and West packed full of plant tours, education and plenty of networking time. Click on our Events page.
  • Focused industry discussions monthly manufacturers roundtable on-line. Register by contacting us.
  • Keeping you informed through on-line webinars on topics including:  Future of the Industry, Succession Planning, Advanced Manufacturing and more plus our weekly national news updates. Click on our Events page.
  • Launching a Women in Kitchen Manufacturing Program to strengthen recruitment strategies and provide mentorship support.
  • Raise the profile of what our industry is all about to entice more people to get into this business by developing a video series and an on-line career booklet that you can use on your website and when you present in schools. Watch our Careers page for more.
  • More member savings programs including HR and Video services. Click on member programs, new programs being added soon!
  • More industry intel and data for benchmarking through surveys, industry research and more.
  • Web based ‘help’ platform that provides a wide range of resources on topics you are looking for.
  • Advocating on your behalf through our influential channels on important topics including the labour shortage, increased cost of doing business, affordability and accessibility to funding for adoption of new technologies. Check our Advocacy page for details.
  • Recruitment program to train and hire workers entering Canada to enter the kitchen cabinet industry.

This and so much more. Stay PLUGGED IN to the CKCA community. Don’t miss out on all the opportunities to help your business thrive!

Back by popular demand – Future of the Industry Webinar

CKCA’s first webinar of 2023 – We start the year with this valuable session!

At the CKCA National Forum in Waterloo, ON Setp 28 – Oct 1, 2022, we hosted a panel discussion on the future of the industry. This session was well attended and the response we got was amazing. Everyone enjoyed the session and found it so valuable.

So we thought “let’s do it again”. Now is your opportunity to attend an online conversation with the same panelists and you can bring members from your team to attend on line.

This is an online version which means it doesn’t matter where you are in Canada, this is your chance to hear this informative session again and to ask questions. If you’re planning a future for your business you’re going to want to attend this webinar.

More details and to register – Click  here »


  • Jason Varelli, Biesse
  • Luke Elias, Muskoka Cabinet Company
  • Peter Mater, Planit Canada
  • Tommy Gagnon, AutomaTech Robotik
  • Stephan Kleiser: Moderator

Thanks to our session sponsor:

CKCA’s Regional Event goes West Feb 6-8, 2023

Want to connect with other manufacturers and suppliers across Canada?

  • We know you want to know what’s going on out there.
  • Now’s your chance to see what’s going on out west with the first face-to-face event in 3 years (that’s right, it was Feb 2020 the last time we met on the west coast).
  • A jam packed program with amazing tours is waiting for industry to sign up and attend.
  • All the information can be found here including registration.

It’s been tough not hosting our members. While we’ve manged to meet on line, nothing replaces the community spirit of an in person event. So while we encourage everyone to take all safety measures with Covid, we guarantee you a warm welcome in Richmond, BC Feb 6-8, 2023!



Tapping the “Feeder Lanes”

Where do we get the workers? Colleges have been providing our industry with workers for many years. In fact, this was obvious very recently when we toured manufacturers in Waterloo, ON as part of the CKCA National Forum. A number of attendees to the forum commented that they had graduated from Conestoga College. Its obvious that Conestoga College, located in Waterloo,  has done a great job of training and then feeding our industry with trained candidates. But given the shift in the employment market, it’s now even more important to engage with colleges to tap those “feeder lanes” when the opportunities present.

There are many ways to do this and a great example is an initiative Conestoga College started called “Jill of All Trades” which works to introduce students Grades 9-12 to the trades. This program is gaining traction and Cambrian College recently started the program as well.

We spoke to Joni Jean, Chair, Schools of Engineering & Technology and Trades & Apprenticeship at Conestoga College, who explained more about the program.

Jill of All Trades (JOAT) is a Conestoga College initiative, which Conestoga started about 8 years ago. (They were unable to run the event during the pandemic.) The college invites approximately 225 young women from local high schools to participate in the full-day event. This includes a keynote, followed by the opportunity to participate in three hands-on workshops (15 different workshops, including woodworking are typically available) throughout the day, which are led by mentors, many of whom are female. The JOAT videos can found on the following webpage. Be sure to check out the Jill of all Trades video (dated 2018), its a great visual of what takes place.

Conestoga recently trademarked the name and logo in both Canada and the United States. With the support of a national sponsor, the college is providing resources so other colleges, like Cambrian, so they can offer their own JOAT event. Conestoga’s goal is to run events across Canada at 25 separate institutions in 2025, so there will be a handful of events this year, ten or so next year, and so on.

The opportunity lies in the fact the colleges are always seeking sponsors for programs like this as well as people who can assist in delivering these unique programs. In exchange, you get a chance to meet with a demographic you may not otherwise have and you can plant some seeds. While we know students coming from college level are most suitable as employees, we also have to promote our industry to the younger generation who know little to nothing about the trades. Jill of all Trades is focussed on women in the trades, but even so, it’s a successful program you can get involved with.

But that’s not all, many colleges are looking for volunteers to sit on their Program Review Committees as well as participate in their co-op programs and offer placements, plus there are other ways to engage (watch the video presentation with Joni Jean). But one thing you may not have considered is that colleges are suffering from the labour shortage too. Which means they are looking for teachers from the industry. If you can afford a small amount of time on a regular basis to commit to teaching, there’s no better way to meet your future employees.

If you have a local college with programs that can feed your business, reach out to them and see how you can strengthen those ties. Remember, it’s not just woodworkers we need in the industry, so don’t rule out other faculties.

Recently CKCA visited Conestoga College and we met with the Faculty of Design students. It was a great afternoon and whether or not those students knew about kitchen design as a career option – they sure do now!

Watch the presentations:

American #CICM campaign attracting new people to skilled trades careers

Oct 31, 2022

Article prepared by: Chris George, CKCA Communications Consultant, CG&A Communications

Through the month of October, American construction companies conducted a public awareness campaign designed to attract new workers to consider career opportunities in the various skilled trades required in the construction industry.

The expressed goals of Careers in Construction Month (#CICM) are to inspire, recruit, and train the next generation of craft professionals and to shape positive perceptions of a career in construction.

This campaign helps construction companies effectively outreach and promote their job opportunities with attractive social media materials and useful information. And the #CICM appeal is compelling for young people and workers looking to enter the workforce or advance their careers.

The #CICM messages are a calling that is both inviting and promising: Build Your Career. The overarching theme encourages “anyone looking for a profession with life-long learning and limitless potential for growth and advancement to check out construction.”

In a day and age where most people have misconceptions about work in the trades, it is very important to highlight that a career in skilled trades offers a great opportunity. The #CICM campaign emphasizes this point by stating “Construction careers in today’s market are all about high-tech, high-stakes, huge earning potential and the opportunity to travel the world.” One of the catchy campaign taglines suggests the potential for upward mobility: “A career in construction can take you all the way to CEO.”

American companies were encouraged to reach out to local high schools and colleges to introduce themselves, tell their story and provide a glimpse of the career opportunities in construction. They were encouraged to dispel misconceptions by sharing information and data on skilled trades and explaining a student’s route to entry, including education and training contact information.

There are important take aways from this American campaign for the Canadian kitchen cabinet industry. For CKCA members, consider that we have an attractive story to tell students and all who are interested in cabinetry…. Our task is to paint the picture:

  • Given the current job vacancies and the great number of retirees in the next decade, there is a growing demand for skilled trades in jobs that provide good salaries and endless possibilities for career growth.
  • There are so many specialties within the kitchen cabinet industry, something for everyone whether you are creative, mathematically inclined, attentive to detail, wanting to work with your hands, or to acquire technological expertise.
  • When you complete a technical degree, apprenticeship or craft training certificate, you are highly marketable in the job market. And that skilled trade can take you anywhere in Canada or around the world.

Just as the #CICM campaign has, our kitchen cabinet companies must speak directly to the next generation of Canadian workers and inspire them to “Build Your Future.”

CKCA National Forum 2022 – Connect – Learn – Prosper

CKCA National Forum 2022 was held in Waterloo, Ontario, September 28 – October 1, 2022.

It was a combination of plant tours, education sessions with presenters, social events and a manufacturers roundtable and welcomed more than 125 attendees from across Canada, both manufacturers and suppliers.

CKCA President, Pete Fournier welcomed everyone and was MC for the event.

As the industry had not gotten together since Feb 2019, it was evident that a strong sense of community was enjoyed by everyone attending. With the labour shortages in our industry, manufacturers continue to struggle to pull themselves away from their business to attend. But those that did, really benefitted for the many conversations they had with their peers.

The plant tours created opportunities to get new ideas, to see how others are manufacturing in the industry. For the hosts of the tours, it was a chance to get the input from their peers. Not only did we tour kitchen cabinet manufacturers, Chervin Kitchens, Woodland Horizon, Barzotti Woodworking and Kraemer Kitchens, we also toured a cutting tools manufacturing facility, Royce Ayr. This variety exposes participants to different sizes of shops, large and small. As well, participants toured Conestoga College Woodworking Training Centre, one of the largest in North America. A chance to present to students from the Bachelor of Design program also gave attendees the chance to have one to one conversations with students, raising awareness about the many design opportunities in the kitchen industry. CKCA wants to do more of this at future events to mix and mingle with students. It’s the best way of introducing students to the many employment opportunities in the kitchen cabinet industry.

Want to watch the videos from the presentations given at Conestoga by your industry peers? Click here for details.

Social events offered a relaxed environment for attendees to talk and there was never any shortage of that. This is an industry that needs to talk and clearly Covid has slowed that down, there was a lot of catching up to do.

We heard from industry experts on the ever changing sales world as well as a panel discussion on the future of the industry. This session was so popular, we will be running a webinar with the same panelists in the coming months.

Summaries of key points from the presentations are below.

Changing Sales World – Are you Adapting? «Summary of presentation»

The Future of our Industry «Summary of presentation»

The Manufactures Roundtable rounded out the event with 40 kitchen cabinet manufacturers meeting to discuss business and share ideas. While CKCA has gone to virtual roundtables every month on Zoom, the chance to meet face to face is still the most ideal way to connect.

The event was rated as excellent to very good by attendees. This event showed us once again that the industry needs to be connected. But don’t take it from us, listen to these testimonials and join us at a future CKCA event.


Kitchen cabinet manufacturing is a complex business, business owners can find tremendous value in talking to eachother and learning what’s new from their suppliers. But what it all boils down to is building relationships that can help the entire industry move forward and this is definitely something we saw taking place over this event. We look forward to hosting another CKCA event in person. Watch for details for 2023.

We’d like to extend our sincere thanks to our sponsors who are an integral part of this event and help to make it possible!


The Future of the Kitchen Cabinet Industry

The Future of the Kitchen Cabinet Industry

Presented: October 1, 2022

CKCA National Forum, Waterloo, Ontario


Luke Elias, Muskoka Cabinet Company

Tommy Gagnon, Automa Tech Robotik

Jason Varelli, Biesse

Peter Mate, Planit Canada



  • Importance of collecting and analyzing data and how Muskoka uses RFID for data collection.
    How data can be used to find the “gold” on our factory floors and to help employee buy-in when it comes to implementation and benefits of new technology.
  • Luke also touched on Industry 5.0 and the vital communication and interfaces between people and the connected factory.


  • The labor shortage it’s here to stay. We can see a labour movement from the shop to the office
  • Automation is not just robot or machine, it’s also software. The complete value chain must be analysis to see the opportunity
  • Advice for automation:  Start with you strategic plan, then move to VSM (value stream mapping) and after that do your automation project
  • You need to control your data and understand them. You cannot rely on external resources to control that for you
  • Automation project should be seen as an investment for the sustainability of your company. Yes, ROI is very important, but you now need to enter in your equation your long-term ability to produce
  • Automation requires project management: software or project, you cannot see that as a standard machine
  • The market will change. There’s an opportunity for the smaller company to take market share from the bigger one. There’s a decision to make to do the manufacturing or not: people that don’t invest will have trouble to compete in the future.


  • When you have more automated lines you have fewer people on the line but higher level individuals, which in my opinion is easier to find as those people are more engaged and “own” the line.
  • Planning is something most people fail miserably at.  This is a big topic; I’m talking plant layout, data in place and ready when needed, required space for the desired productivity.
  • Automation for smaller companies.  I give you an example, in the US about 4 weeks ago at the KCMA meeting (Sept 2022) when the top 3 cabinet companies in the organization decided to leave the organization.  There was a lot of “smaller” companies who told us as the associate members they will invest a lot in automation to take as much market share as possible from those big 3.  This message came from both larger companies, but a lot where the ones are currently at 100-300 cabinets per shift.


  • Attitude and aptitude will set the tone of your technology journey. It’s not perfect, so don’t go into it expecting it to be.
  • Training and good support is critical. We all have access to the same technology. The benefits you get from technology is greatly impacted by the humans using it and their knowledge. Commit to continuous training and learning.
  • To attract and retain younger talent, we must change our view of work. Focus on the results you are looking for and structure the job requirements to enable employees to figure out how to get the best output. A job is more than just a paycheck. It’s a huge part of our lives. This is our chance to make something amazing rather than the same old mundane.

Reach out, Speak Up, Be Heard

CKCA’s Advocacy Committee is comprised of manufacturing and supplier members in the industry. Over the past few months we have developed materials that will serve as a tool to help you contact your politicians at all levels of Government, whether its municipal, regional, provincial or federal.

By inviting these politicians to either come and tour your facility, or to meet with you, it creates a personal experience and shows them what kind of business is in their back yard. These politicians are elected by their communities, but you cannot assume they understand all the different business operating in their area. This is your chance to reach out, speak up and be heard by the people who make decisions impacting your business. If you want to receive copies of the documents to use, please contact sandra@ckca.ca 


Because we need your help to get our collective message out across Canada. There are many challenges facing our sector, the labour shortage, the cost of technology adoption, foreign competition, increasing business costs etc. The more we can educate our politicians, the more informed they become when making decisions that have a direct impact on our industry.

Advocating is Educating

As a first step, Kevin Bowers from Dynamic Kitchens who sits on the Advocacy Committee volunteered and met with MP Karen Vecchio in late August 2022 when she accepted an invite to tour DK’s facilities. The MP and her assistant spent 90 minutes on a showroom tour, plant tour and office conversation. MP Vecchio was very receptive to hearing about the challenges of the industry and she raised concerns for labour shortages while on the plant tour. There was a good exchange about labour and the challenges we face from human capital as well as access to capital via grants. In the talk Kevin shared the CKCA package and discussed the industry and the association.

CKCA Board Member, Craig Atkinson from Marathon Hardware met with MP Bryan May on August 4, 2022. It was an informal conversation that included a focus on the wood products industry. Specifically, Craig raised issues about the extend of the wood products industry, workforce demographics, and competing with foreign imports. MP May spoke of details regarding local companies using Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) recruitment. He also raised the need to attract people into “high tech” side of the industry.

Craig’s main takeaways: Our industry should seriously look at the TFW programs to bring in skilled people worlwide, example discussed is welding and tooling industry in Cambridge. Look at HR and consider the benefits/retention of workers just as important (if not more important) than hiring whenever possible.


CKCA supporting members with their skilled labour shortage concerns

August 2022

Written by Chris George, CG&A Communications and CKCA Communications Advisor

We have all become too familiar with the realities of Canada’s skilled labour shortages. Two-thirds of Canadian businesses struggle to hire workers and a quarter have difficulties retaining employees. Skills Canada documents a 40 per cent shortage in skilled trades today and this is projected to grow as workers age and retire.

Certainly, the country’s skilled labour shortage is impacting all areas of Canada’s business community. Given its critical importance, CKCA is actively supporting its membership by keeping a pulse on the issues at play and by providing tools for members to profile their businesses and attract new employees.

CKCA keeps its members abreast of the latest news, whether it is the data from Statistics Canada Labour Report or a new government program for skilled trades. For example, recently a 2022 StatsCan study was shared that provided current insights into private sector business strategies to deal with personnel recruitment, retention and training.

A 3M Canada survey tells us that there is much work to still be done to attract students to consider a career in skilled trades. Even though 96 per cent agree that the country’s workforce needs more skilled trades workers, three in four Canadians (76 per cent) say they would never pursue a skilled trade for themselves.

This 3M survey also revealed that nine in 10 (92 per cent) believe there is a lot of opportunity in skilled trades, and 91 per cent trust vocational or trade schools to give them the education needed to have a successful career. Eight in 10 (81 per cent) believe they would earn as much money in a skilled trade as they would in a career that requires a university degree.

With this appreciation for skilled trades, it remains a wonder why young people do not consider a career in a trades business. In a recent Forbes Magazine interview, CEO Mark Perna of consulting firm TFS urged employers to target messaging about the value of skilled trade careers to young workers, their parents, friends, classmates and teachers. Also, Perna asserts young people need to know more about the significant financial incentives in pursuing a career in the skilled trades.

On this point, CKCA is supporting its members by developing materials that better describes our businesses and the varied career opportunities within our industry. The Communications Committee is developing presentations for business and community meetings, for student tours, school visits and to share with guidance and career counsellors.

Statistics tell us that skilled labour challenges will be with all trades, manufacturers and retailers for years to come. We must all plan accordingly. CKCA’s efforts on this issue are aimed to give members a competitive advantage when dealing with the attraction and retention of employees.

CKCA Launches the National Forum 2022 Program and Registration

It’s been a long haul!

Actually it’s been 31 months by the time we deliver our first face-to-face event for the industry.

So we are VERY excited about hosting our first in-person national event focused on the kitchen cabinet industry in Canada and you don’t want to miss it!

Networking – Learning – Connecting

Amazing plant tours. Industry experts. Lots of talk time.

Build those important business connections to help your business prosper.

Want more details? Click here and visit our National Forum page. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity. We look forward to welcoming you to Waterloo, Ontario September 28 – October 1, 2022.