Tuesday – Friday | August 25-28, 2020

Georgia World Congress Center | Atlanta, GA | USA


Woodworking Network Leadership Forum

Symposium Code: LDR

Sponsored by: JB Cutting Inc.

Presented by: Woodworking Network and Closets & Organized Storage Magazine


A top-level conference aimed at executives from North America’s largest woodworking and/or most innovative companies. The goal is to examine business, technology, and material trends that will impact the design and production of cabinetry, furniture and interior millwork over the next decade. The Woodworking Network Leadership Forum is a TEDx-style conference presenting fresh ideas on wood industry materials and technology, presented with flair, and heavy dose of peer to peer networking and audience interaction. The all-day conference will address real world business challenges and successes, emerging technological developments in wood materials and wood construction, new management thought processes, and understanding the new consumer.

The symposium is one of several taking place the day before IWF starts. There will be a joint coffee & carbs meet-up during the registration process and a joint luncheon for all symposia attendees.


8:00 AM - 9:00 AM - Coffee & Pastries
9:00 AM – 10:00 AM - Leadership by Design

Keith Morgan will discuss the importance of professional design in all aspects of your business including design, manufacturing and marketing.

According to Morgan, it is essential to integrate a solid design professional or professionals within your front office operations. The organization must have individuals who have experience in the interior design industry but also be able to take on and understand construction techniques at the shop floor level. It is critical to employ professionals that understand market-viable design and long term design trend history. He will address how Bespoke has successfully linked itself to other luxury brands.

Morgan will also discuss the importance of hiring talented craftspeople and what Bespoke does to retain them indefinitely.

10:00 AM - 11:00 AM - Building Bigger, Taller and Stronger with Wood: How Mass Timber is Rolling out in the U.S.

Products such as cross laminated timber, popular in Europe for more than 20 years, are now making their way into North America in a serious way, with manufacturers in Oregon, Washington, Montana and Alabama coming onstream and innovative new timber buildings appearing in many of our cities. In this presentation, Iain Macdonald, Associate Director of the TallWood Design Institute, will describe mass timber and how it is changing the way America builds. He will cover manufacturing, technical barriers and how they are being overcome, expectations for market growth, and what it means for providers of non-structural wood products.

11:00 AM - Noon - A Unique Technology, in a Unique Part, for a Unique Industry
Each item is unique, and in woodworking, this is even truer than any other industry. But how could we identify the unique history of each unique part? And how can we use that information to help measure quality, control process flows, and improve inventory accuracy? Using integrated RFID technology to create a unique identity for each piece, American Woodmark Corporation has seen continuous benefit and value. Henry Nisiobincki will show how a simple low-cost addition to each piece can be the solution for endless cost-savings, as well as the platform for future innovation.

Noon - 1:00 PM - Networking Lunch
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM - Nanotechnology: Small to the World, Big to the Industry

There's an unprecedented multidisciplinary convergence of scientists dedicated to the study of a world so small, we can't see it - even with a light microscope. Mike Hetherman, president, owner and CEO of Willis - a North American distributor of globally branded building materials and a prominent voice in the design community, will address the field of nanotechnology, the realm of atoms and nanostructures. Nanotechnology is so new, no one is really sure what will come of it. What we do know is that nanotechnology is making its way into the world of building materials. Join us for an intriguing session which will outline the basics of nanotechnology and how it’s being used to revolutionize our industry.

2:00 PM - 3:00 PM - The Business Case for Diversity

Diversity is quite possibly the best source of innovation and creativity in our industry, according to Whitney Pyle who is also a Woodworking Network Class of 2017 40 under 40 winner. Whitney will discuss her career path through the industry as a female. "The construction and woodworking industries as a whole lack diversity," said Pyle.She said many times when she attended industry events people would presume she was just somebody's spouse. "Together, we will unpack the reasons why, we’ll discuss why it’s important to change it, what we can do to change it," said Pyle. "We’ll also discuss what steps to take to ensure all people become integrated and engaged in our organizations and our industry."

3:00 PM - 4:00 PM - Understand the New Consumer

This presentation lead by Mike Hetherman, will unearth two very distinct types of consumers – the NEO and the Traditional – and how they are powering our economy. Discover why targeting one versus the other will drastically change your sales, marketing and pricing strategies forever. You’ll learn who spends the most, most frequently, and find out more about their values, attitudes and, ultimately, buying behavior and communication preference. Most importantly, you’ll learn how to quickly connect with your customer, close jobs faster, work less and maximize your profits.

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM - 40 under 40 leadership panel:

Woodworking Network’s 40 under 40 award recognizes those individuals that have made a difference in their careers, their companies, their communities and to the industry. Benchmarks include productivity, profitability, social good, innovation, peer inspiration, product development and organizational leadership.

This illustrious panel, made up of members of the Class of 2018 and alumni, will address their leadership journey and offer insights into the future of the industry.

Targeted Audience: C-Level management, rising stars and innovators from across the wood products industry including CEO’s, owners, team managers and entrepreneurs and investors

About the Speakers:

Keith Morgan's company, Bespoke, caters to an elite international clientele, emphasizing elegant custom design and spectacular craftsmanship. Not only has Bespoke won multiple Craftsman’s Challenge awards, but also Morgan has earned a reputation for his marketing prowess in the highly competitive world of luxury consumers.
Iain Macdonaldis Associate Director of the TallWood Design Institute, an interdisciplinary research and education center formed through a partnership between Oregon State University’s College of Forestry and College of Engineering and the University of Oregon’s School of Architecture and Allied Arts. As the nation’s only research collaborative focusing exclusively on the advancement of structural wood products, TallWood Design Institute conducts research needed for widespread adoption of mass timber building technology in the U.S. and offers related training, education and technical assistance. Iain has worked in training and industry support roles in the forest industry for 18 years, prior to which he was involved in export marketing of forest products. Iain led the Centre for Advanced Wood Processing (CAWP) at University of British Columbia, Canada (UBC) for nine years, during which time he was a key player in efforts by the Province of British Columbia to stimulate and support the use of mass timber products following the passing of the Wood First Act. He is a director and past chair of the Wood Manufacturing Council.
Whitney Pyle is an expert in workplace culture development and an advocate for the importance of diversity in our industry. Whitney has been a trailblazer in the nuclear industry, food and drug industry, and has spent the last 10 years in the woodworking industry. She is currently the COO of JGBowers, Inc. and Advanced Cabinet Systems. She’s a recipient of numerous awards, including the Woodworking Network’s 40 under 40 award and Human Resource Professional of the Year. Whitney travels internationally taking her message world-wide to multiple industries.
At American Woodmark Corporation, Henry Nisiobincki manages the RFID Program from a corporate level. He works closely with our organizations manufacturing plants to understand processes, identify key issues, and develop unique and innovative RFID technology solutions to relieve those issues. His career at American Woodmark started in IT Development and IT Project Management before transitioning into RFID. He is excited to share the unique and extensive application of RFID at AWC.
Dave Johnson has worked in the woodworking industry for over 40 years. He has worked for the White Consolidated Industries-Cabinet Group, Herman Miller, Masco and American Woodmark. He has been with American Woodmark for over 18 years working out of the corporate office in Winchester, VA in the materials area.
Mike Hetherman is the President, owner and CEO of Willis - a North American distributor of globally branded building materials including Corian® solid surface, Corian® quartz, Arpa High Pressure Laminate, FENIX NTM® and Artisan sinks & faucets. Willis manages product distribution, sales relationships and marketing activities for all of these brands in Canada and the entire US Pacific coast. Mike has been a prominent voice in the design community, being sought after for his global design insights which have been developed throughout his 25+ year tenure as a CKD. Mike has had the privilege of speaking at a variety of industry events across the globe including KBIS, IBS, and the Palm Spring Modernism Week Festival.