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Fit and Finish: Industry events need substance to be attractive

Winnipeg or Calgary?

June 28, 2018  By Chris Meiorin

I recently had to make a decision: do I travel to Winnipeg or to Calgary? It certainly wasn’t an easy decision either. In Calgary, the Fenestration Canada 2018 Spring Conference was taking place. In Winnipeg, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) was hosting the 2018 Canadian Lean Conference.

Both were important to me and both of great interest, however, both conferences were taking place at the same time. With this information, I had a tough decision to make.

I spent the first 20 years of my fenestration career with little or no interest in participating in our recognized association. My perception of the Canadian Window and Door Manufactures Association (now Fenestration Canada) was of an “old boys” club, that got together once a year for a golf tournament and drinking. As I’m not much of a drinker or golfer, I viewed both membership and attending the conference as something of little or no value. This perception, however, has changed over recent years, with a distinct and successful effort by Fenestration Canada to shed this image and work towards bringing value to its members with education sessions that went beyond the typical council and committee meetings and drilled into topics that we as fenestrators need to stay on top of. I not only became a member, but now enthusiastically attend every session, taking detailed notes. I made valuable connections, both socially and personally, and even found myself advocating membership with both manufacturers and suppliers. In short, I became a fan, largely due to value I felt the association brought to me as an individual and as a company.

I was first formally introduced to Lean via a Fenestration Canada webinar, “Lean… a journey, not a destination,” and I was later introduced to CME via Fenestration Manitoba’s FenCon18. I also spent the first 20 years of my career with not a lot of interest in or knowledge of Lean manufacturing. It’s not to say that we didn’t spend a lot of time improving our manufacturing efficiencies, we just didn’t have a label for it. However, this webinar opened my eyes to this systematic method and I was intrigued and knew immediately that it would become my new and latest obsession.


As any business owner would tell you, time is a precious commodity. Often, we are faced with the challenges of how and where to allocate our time, both within the company and outside of work as well. If I was going to devote time away from my business and family, I wanted to ensure that there was a high return on this time investment and set out to diligently research the value streams of both these events.

The 2018 Canadian Lean Conference was exceptionally well laid out. The four-day conference was broken down into four different segments: workshops, tours, presentations, and keynote speakers. The presentations were further broken down into four different and distinct value streams: leadership, people, daily improvement and results. The tours focused on local businesses that continue to embrace Lean and included such industry peers as Loewen Windows and Doors, Alumicor, and Jeld-Wen. The keynote speakers too were of the highest quality and included manufacturing CEOs and practitioners who openly shared their respective triumphs and tribulations while on their Lean journeys. As you might assume for such a conference, everything was carried out with the utmost in efficacy and organization.

In contrast to the Lean Conference, information on the Fenestration Canada Spring Conference was limited. Line-dancing in cowboy hats seemed to be the event’s main draw. Now, that’s not to suggest that networking and socializing aren’t key to almost every and any association event, but if it’s not matched with at least as much attention to professional value-added opportunities, it can easily be bypassed by the key stakeholders. I recognize the efforts put forth by this organizing committee, most of whom are volunteering. It’s just that if you want the time commitment, there has to be a little more substance.

I went to Winnipeg.

Chris Meiroin is president of Euro Vinyl Windows in Woodbridge, Ont.

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