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.

Helping consumers make smart choices for their future

Read full article here.

Blum Canada is known for it’s research into ergonomic designs. This marries well with an emerging trend to “age in place” or “live in place”. Kitchen cabinet manufacturers have an opportunity to develop expertise to help their customers build or renovate their living spaces to accommodate their needs for today and the future.

As we see the largest aging population in history head to retirement, their wish to remain in place has been augmented after the last 3 years of Covid shutdowns. Now more than ever, its important our industry be prepared to help consumers make smart choices for their future.

This article help you to better understand the differences between aging in place versus living in place, as well as provides informative statistics that will have you thinking differently about how you build.

We’ve spoken with Lucy Traetto, Sales and Marketing Representative for over 22 years at Blum Canada Ltd. Lucy holds credentials including CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialist) and CLIPP (Certified Living in Place Professional). Lucy is an expert on this subject and a wealth of knowlege that she is keen to share with the kitchen cabinet industry.


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.

Kitchen Spot is growing at a comfortable pace

Mustafa Mohammed opened up his new business in May 2021 and decided from the get go to build a solid foundation for his business that will grow steadily. This story demonstrates there are many ways to hire and sometimes a little creativity can go a long way to finding people that you would never think would be interested. It’s a great story for anyone in HR who is hiring and/or looking to grow their company.

Read story here»

CKCA launches Manufacturers Roundtable – Monthly

FACT: Manufacturers are facing unprecedented challenges and the need to connect with each other has never been greater.

Exclusive and FREE to Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers across Canada!
Sign up is easy!
Just email us to get the calendar reminder and Zoom link details.


Zoom calls monthly, attend whenever you wish, same Zoom link, doesn’t matter if there’s 2 people or 30, we’ll run it!


Last Thursday of every month 1 – 2 pm (ET) – Starts March 31 (ET)


Must be: Kitchen cabinet manufacturer or Dealer in Canada


Nope! We want this to be informal, free flow convo!
Can’t always commit?
That’s ok, attend some, skip some whatever suits your schedule

Handhills Cabinets shows how capable their machinery really is

Handhills Cabinets, is  a proud member of CKCA based in Hanna, Alberta.

Recently they had a large commercial job that required plywood shelving.

With solid 3/4 strip wood on the front edges,– vs just some thin PVS edge, and without the options on this machine, Handhills admits they could not have bid on the job. What they found different about the machine is that only larger and really heavy duty machines can actually apply an edge that thick ( 3/4″ ) most only go to ( 3/8″ ) or smaller. The unit in video 3– is again a unit found only on larger machines, so they would never want to do without it, –unless you only ever want to straight kitchen cabinets.

Handhills Cabinets says “If you do both residential and commercial, it pays to spend a little more on a machine with more options.”

Video 1 – Feeding in and applying 3/4″ thick solid lumber to apply onto a commercial shelving job, using waterproof PUR adhesive.
Video 2 – Showing front and back trim cutting off excess overhand
Video 3 – Rough trimmer units – trimming applied piece flush to panel
Video 4 – Profile units putting a smaller chamfer edges


Vaccine Policy and Covid-19 Small Business Centre Help

Get the answers you need!

According to a KMPG survey, some 62% of employers who are preparing for employees to return to the workplace will require or plan to require proof of Covid-19 vaccination from their employees. As well, 84 per-cent agree that vaccines are key to avoiding another lockdown and should be mandatory.
According to Public Health Canada, as of Nov. 27, 2021, 75.86 per-cent of the population have been fully vaccinated.
Note: Don’t forget CKCA members are CFIB members (those eligibile) and that gives you access to all the latest updates on implementing Covid-19 vaccination policies in your workplace. Be sure to check out CFIB’s Covid-19 Small Business Help Centre. Get the answers and help you need. Forgot your CFIB member number? Call or E-mail us and we can provide that to you. CKCA – 613-493-5858 or

Cyber beware this season and always!

Tell your staff to be mindful of the 7 Scams to watch this holiday season
Arm your employees with information from credible sources about the Holiday Scams this season.
Reminder to CKCA Members! The holiday season can be a vulnerable time and Cyber Threats are on the increase! CKCA receives weekly notifications from CCTX (Canadian Cyber Threat Exchange) and there is story after story about cyber attacks.
We released a useful tool to help CKCA members protect their business. Members can access this chart by logging in and checking under the Members Only Resources Section.  This tool is great to share this with your Tech Department and make sure they can answer every question on it.

CKCA’s Cyber Risk Tool

You don’t have to understand all the tech, but you do have to understand the risk – Use this CKCA tool!

You can’t be an expert at everything. You have to delegate to others to ensure your business is protected against cyber security.

CKCA went to THE source for cyber security insights and have partnered with Canadian Cyber Threat Exchange to produce this handy checklist (please log in as a CKCA member to view this great tool).

Give this checklist to your IT contact and get them to go through it and respond to you. Remember it won’t be your IT contact paying the ransomware, it will be you! So if you want to make sure your IT has got your business covered, show them this list and see what they say.

Did you know about 70% of Canadian companies have experienced an attack and that number is growing?

It can’t happen to you? Really? Check out these stories:

  • Trail Appliances, western Canada’s largest appliance retailer has been impacted by a Cyberattack. Read more »
  • Drowning in threat information? Getting advice from the right sources is important. Read more»
  • At the end of the day, every organization owns the responsibility to acquire, implement and manage their IT. Read more»