Why CWPCA?

June 1, 2019

As an operations manager in the pallet industry, I found much value to being a member of and being involved in the CWPCA.  From networking and building contacts, to forging business and personal relationships, to feeling “in the know” when it came to industry issues, the CWPCA became a tool that I used in my day to day life around the plant.  Stepping into the CWPCA as an employee, it never really crossed my mind that members saw things any differently.  Here I am 5 years in, and I have realized that there are many who question, or are unsure of the role of the CWPCA, or what exactly it is we do, and thus what the benefits of membership are.

Recently, I received an email from a long-time member, one who also served our Board of Directors for many years, asking me a very pointed question.  Upon reading, I paused to think for a minute, and commented out loud “of all people to ask such a question, he should know the answer to that”.  But then I thought about it, and thought about it some more.  I realised that for the last 10 years or more, the CWPCA has been rapidly evolving.  The advent of the HT Program in Canada and ISPM-15 globally has changed the nature of the business in many ways, and the CWPCA’s involvement in administering the inspection services has subsequently changed us.  I believe for the better.

The following is a minimally edited version of the correspondence that I had with the member I mentioned earlier.  At his request, I will print it pretty much in its entirety, save for a few words and grammatical adjustments.  I hope that it helps you all understand where the CWPCA stands, what it is we are doing for you, for industry, and it helps you to realise the value of membership.  Not simply as it pertains to tangible, easily quantifiable benefits, but to those things that we do that the industry as a whole benefit from.

Q.  I appreciate reading the monthly newsletter. When asked what are the benefits of being a member of the CWPCA, I cannot find the words…or the answers. Can I ask you what are the other benefits of being a member of the CWPCA in 2019?

A.  Thank you for the inquiry.  Your question is one that I read with interest and is a cause for thought.  I agree that it can be sometimes hard to really to define what the benefits of membership are, and so I understand where you are coming from.  I believe though that quite frankly they are different for each member.

At the core, members who are engaged, and participate in events, or use the resources available find benefit in tangible ways.  Networking and connections, information, assistance etc.  We field calls weekly asking for potential supply partners, help with a pallet design, assistance with a technical specification etc.  I also field calls from people looking to buy or sell equipment, or even entire companies.  In that respect, we act as a link or liaison between members.  Aside from the newsletter, we endeavor to keep members up to date on areas of interest that may affect their business or the industry.  There are also things like the insurance partner program, or the currency exchange program of which members who participate all report significant cost savings and benefit from.  Unfortunately, not all choose to participate or take advantage of these things.

In the bigger picture, the association serves a much larger purpose.  The association has gone through a tremendous evolution since the old days.  While we may not be “as fun as we used to be” we are mandated to support and work to promote the interests of the wood packaging industry in Canada.  This work not only benefits members, but non members alike. The administration of the HT inspections probably serves to affect the industry in the most positive way.  Coast to coast inspection services at uniform pricing serves to allow for a very high engagement in the program.  It is the envy of the other industry associations that we work with, and has also allowed us to expand our reach and have a louder voice where government affairs are concerned.  Currently we serve on two government/industry committees where we provide insight and information about the industry, and unlike years past, are consulted when policies and rules are changed or implemented.  

In other countries, wood packaging industry associations do not have the same opportunity as we do because of our role.  We work hand in hand with the lumber industry and ensure that the programs and systems work for us all.  Our purpose is ever evolving and we are now looking at some changes to the HT Program that focus specifically on wood packaging, and we are spearheading and implementing changes that will HELP our industry not only comply with international regulations, but do so in a manner that works for US, the wood packaging industry.  Much of the North American program was built by the lumber industry, with seemingly little consultation from ours, and now it is our turn to have a say.  Unlike in the past, where I am told we were the black sheep around the table, we are now working together as equal stakeholders in the program which is VERY important.  

Liaisons with government continue to grow and now see us involved with different departments other than CFIA.  I have recently worked with the National Research Council on a wood waste pilot project using scrap wood packaging.  We were also able to connect directly with Global Affairs Canada during the SLA negotiations and ensure that assembled wood packaging was kept off the product inclusions list.  Additionally, I have recently been named to a North American Plant Protection Organization (NAPPO) committee dealing with what are known as “contaminating pests” that may travel with wood packaging, and how importing countries are to deal with them.   This committee is formed to ensure that our products move freely with their consignments around the world, and do not cause trade disruptions.  

Additionally, as a result of my recent meetings with CFIA, we are investigating a national recycling strategy aimed at increasing the phytosanitary safety of our recycled wood packaging, all the while making it easier for recyclers and wood packaging users alike to ensure compliance.  CFIA feels that this will be a benchmark effort which will showcase the leadership role Canada is taking in ensuring the phytosanitary safety of our wood packaging, and may be used as the model for other countries to follow, which in turn, sheds positive light on our industry.

Other recent developments on this front see us accepting a role on a different NAPPO committee looking at the inclusion of alternate treatment methods for wood packaging, and also receiving an endorsement from CFIA to participate at the global level with the IPPC on another expert working group.

If we move away from the government/regulatory side of things, I also feel that our growing relations with the NWPCA, WPA and FEFPEB specifically also serve as a large benefit to members.  Resources like the Pallet Foundation (of which we now have a seat), the Global Wood Packaging Forum (where we have three representatives), and Nature’s Packaging are only the tip of the iceberg.  As we continue to collaborate with these other industry associations, we continue to find ways to support the wood packaging industry on a global scale.  INTERPAL was a huge success, and as a result, we are now co-hosting the plant tours with NWPCA in Toronto this fall, allowing our members the opportunity once again to network outside of the friendly confines of our group.

In the end, I think the tangible benefits and takeaways of association membership are there for those who want to access them.  Overall though, there is a LOT of other work that is being done on behalf of the entire industry, and we hope that members and non members alike understand the efforts that go on behind the scenes that help to make their lives easier.  Our members’ voices guide us to the areas with which we focus our efforts, so therefore, by showing support to the association as a member, you share in the collective voice that guides what we do.  That to me, is the biggest benefit of membership.

I hope that somehow helps to answer your question.  As you know, I am passionate about this industry, and I firmly believe in the direction that the CWPCA is heading.  It is certainly a different organization than it was in 2003 when I attended my first meeting, but based on the feedback that I have been getting from other associations, industry partners and government, is in a better place.

Quick Note:  I appreciate the fact that you asked these questions of me as well.  I wish more members did.  We need more people to be engaged and understand what it is we are doing, where we are heading and why.  I think that knowledge will not only help us to continue to grow the association, but also to help to strengthen our voice and make us more effective.

I certainly hope that reading this helps to highlight the current “state of the union” within the CWPCA.  As I stated in the last paragraph in my response, and I cannot stress it enough, I welcome your calls and emails.  Myself and our staff are here to work on behalf of our members and the industry and we cannot effectively do our work without your support and direction.  For those who are trying to engage others to join the CWPCA, I think the message is that whether you are a member or not, the association does in fact work for the industry as a whole, and by adding your name to the to the membership list, you in turn have a say, and are a part of the evolution of the wood packaging industry in Canada.

11-1884 Merivale Road, Ottawa, ON, K2G 1E6
T. 613.521.6468 or 1.877.224.3555 F. 613.521.1835 or 866.375.1835
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