WMA attendees participated in a business roundtable this week.

COVID preparedness, supply chain issues, what keeps you up at night, and attracting and retaining employees—those were just a few of the subjects discussed in roundtables held this week during the annual meeting of the World Millwork Alliance. The discussions, held virtually in Zoom breakout rooms, allowed employees to share information, and then the groups came back together where the moderators reported back on each group’s discussion areas.

“I didn’t know what Zoom was until April,” said one attendee in a group focused on technology issues. As we all know, the industry is now well-versed in this platform, and others such as Microsoft Teams, Go-to Meeting and more, thanks to COVID-19. Overall, members of that group said they were prepared technologically for the pandemic, but not for the physical challenges.

“How do you perform quality control in China if you can’t go in a plant,” said one attendee, as an example of things companies continue to wrestle with.

In the supply chain breakout, the moderator reported that “everyone is busier than last year in most cases.”

One of the groups tackled the question “What keeps you up at night?” and how to retain and attract employees, which for some companies can be one and the same.

“Unemployment is at a record high, yet none of us can find people to work in our plants,” said one attendee.

“Right now the concerns are the long-term effects of COVID-19 and the unknown, and trying to adjust businesses to our best guess,” reported the group’s moderator.

Some silver linings were also brought to light including the fact that the moulding and millwork industry has now learned the importance of moving to digital, and improved communication channels across the board.

When participants came together, the discussions continued to other areas, including strategic planning—is it even possible?

“I have felt like a turtle with my head stuck in the shell for months, and then I realized it’s time to go on offense,” said one attendee. “I’m tired of being the turtle waiting for things to get better.”

Later that day there was one last opportunity to network in a similar format. In the Women in Millwork Roundtable, participants talked about everything from how to motivate employees when working remotely, to how to generate new customers and more. This group also talked about the difficulty of forecasting, and what corporate travel will look like next year.

“People will travel but they will be smarter about it,” said one attendee.








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