The BWA Dubai Export Development Project has been embraced by the regional press with a great article. Read on!
The Owen Sound Sun Times Article June 24, 2013.
Bluewater Wood Alliance impresses at Dubai show
The Bluewater Wood Alliance booth at Index 2013. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Knock on wood. Some local wood manufacturing companies could reap significant benefits from attending a major trade show in Dubai.
Mike Baker, manager of the Bluewater Wood Alliance Inc., said three members of the not-for-profit organization have collaborated to submit a request-for-quotation proposal to furnish a university in Saudi Arabia, while one member company received an RFQ for a large order of its solid wood educational products.
“The people we spoke to at the show — some who have been there three, five, eight times — they all said don’t expect solid offers or request for quotes after your first show. And we had two really big ones and numerous other very promising leads that are being developed right now as a result of it. So it’s way beyond our expectations,” he said Saturday in an interview.
The Bluewater alliance officials also met the deputy ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, at the show.
Seven member companies of the “cluster organization” of Grey-Bruce wood firms were represented at Index 2013, which ran May 20 to 23 in the United Arab Emirates city. The companies manufacture solid wood furniture, flooring, garage doors and children’s toys.
The trip was seen as an opportunity for the companies to develop new export markets for their products. Most of the firms do not currently export, except for some sales to the United States.
“What Index 2013 in Dubai has done is verified and defined the Middle East as an emerging market for Ontario wood products,” Baker said.
The alliance officials went there expecting only to establish and build relationships with prospective clients and “scope out” the potential export market, he said.
But, along with the RFQ requests, alliance members are now following up on several “hot leads” with project developers for universities, condominiums, apartment complexes and hotels, he said.
The alliance also learned of plans in the UAE to build several schools, all of which will require hardwood floors, he said.
Hundreds of people visited the Bluewater Wood Alliance booth at the show, he said, and members returned home with piles of business cards.
He said the demand is high in the Middle East for high-quality, solid wood products, such as those manufactured by the Grey-Bruce companies.
The concept of the Bluewater Wood Alliance itself was also a strong selling point in Dubai, he said.
“The idea that we’re a group of companies with a collective identity here in Ontario, in Canada, and the fact that we all work together as a group and they can shop for various types of wood products through our collective,” he said.
The alliance formed two years ago as a way for wood manufacturing companies, hit hard by the last recession, to collaborate on projects such as export development, process improvement, adoption of new technologies, sharing of best practices and resources. It has grown to include 45 companies.
The organization received funding from Natural Resources Canada’s Expanding Market Opportunities program as well as the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to help support their “export development exercise” to Dubai.
The companies represented by the alliance at Index 2013 were Vokes Furniture of Owen Sound, Bogdon and Gross Furniture Company of Walkerton, West Brothers Furniture of Hanover, Crate Designs of Chesley, Stock Wooden Toys of Williamsford, South Bruce Flooring of Mildmay and Oxford Carriage Doors of Tavistock.
Baker said the results of the show will benefit all Bluewater Wood Alliance members “as a new understanding of the exporting potential of Ontario wood products to this market will be shared” with each one.
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