August 22 – 25, 2018

Georgia World Congress Center | Atlanta, GA| USA


Automating Your Shop:
Which Comes First?

Wednesday, August 24th from 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM 

Session Code: MFG22

Location: B303 (located in Building B - Level 3)

Presented by: Cabinet Makers Association (CMA)

Speakers: Kevin Ward, President: A-Ward Design
and Mike Lee, Director of Insourcing Specialist: Cabinotch Cabinet Box Systems

There is a series of steps and decisions necessary when retrofitting a woodworking operation to take advantage of automation. Nearly every facet of the business is impacted once decisions are made to move to new ways of producing custom woodwork projects. This session will explore considerations and planning necessary to create a smooth transition from the perspective of a shop owner who built his business using automation from the ground up.

About the Speakers:



Mike Lee has over 25 years of management experience in the Wood Products industry. He holds an MBA from Duke University, is a Six Sigma Champion had has implemented LEAN business systems in several manufacturing plants. He is currently Director of Insourcing Specialists, owners of Cabinotch Cabinet Box System.




Born in Salem Ohio in 1960, Kevin was the oldest son of Ray Ward, President of Ward Brothers Construction. As a young boy, Kevin spent time working with his Dad helping him build houses and learning the principals of the business. While in school he excelled in woodworking and metal shop classes. After high school, Kevin worked for Winter Haven Electric and obtained his journeyman and master electrical license. He started his first company a few years later, Progressive Electric. His company performed commercial electrical work as well as residential.

Ward Brothers Construction began expanding and Kevin decided to go into the family business concentrating on the electrical and woodworking aspects. Ten years later Ward Brothers Construction relocates to North Carolina. Being newly married, Kevin remains in Winter Haven and opens his own business, A Ward Design. He started building cabinets out of his garage and with limited resources. As the business grew so did his need for space and additional equipment. He rented a 3000 square foot warehouse and purchased and HolzHer edgebander, a HolzHer panel saw and a Ritter line drill. Within the next year he expanded another 1500 square feet and added a paint booth.

Two years later, Kevin moved his shop to a 6000 square foot building and purchased a Weeke CNC and a HolzHer beam saw which solidified his company as the most technically advanced shop in the area. In 2007, he was featured in Wood Shop News as the “Automation Man.” In 2008 and 2009, A Ward Design was in the top 100 woodworking shops in Wood and Wood Products Magazine, in Southern Living 2009 Cottages of the year magazine and made the cover of CWB in February 2010. The rest is yet to come with a book being written on woodworking and a series of how to videos.

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