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Photos: Wood manufacturers throw traditional rules of business out the window

Three hours northwest of Toronto, a group of Ontario wood manufacturers is succeeding by throwing traditional rules of business out the window. They've formed a cluster, a concept first coined by Harvard University's Michael Porter two decades ago, to share ideas on productivity, R&D and productivity.

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BG Furniture employee Kevin Breutigam helps build a dresser at the company's furniture factory in Walkerton, Ont. BG Furniture belongs to Bluewater Wood Alliance, a cluster of wood businesses in the Walkerton area that work together to build better businesses and prosper in a tough economy.

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From left, Dennis McGlynn, Andrew Schuster, Dave Geikie, Paul West, Joseph Gmeiner and Adam Hofmann of the BlueWater Wood Alliance, a cluster of wood product companies in the Walkerton, Ont. area, meet at one of the members, South Bruce Flooring in Mildmay, Ont.

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Adam Hofmann of BG Furniture checks out products on the factory floor at the company's wood furniture factory in Walkerton, Ont.

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BG Furniture 30-year employee, cabinet maker Doug Schaus, works at the company's wood furniture factory in Walkerton, Ont.

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BG Furniture employee Kim Craig prepares pieces of wood for drawers at the company's Walkerton factory.

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BG Furniture employee Taylor Ross assembles a drawer at the Walkerton factory.

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BG Furniture employee Kevin Breutigam helps build a dresser at the company's factory in Walkerton, Ont.

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Adam Hofmann of BG Furniture works on the factory floor at the company's Walkerton, Ont., facility.

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Employees at South Bruce Flooring wrap up an order of untreated hardwood flooring at the plant in Mildmay, Ont. The company makes hardwood flooring out of local hardwood logged trees, and produces other products that use every bit of the tree. The flooring company is part of the Bluewater Wood Alliance.

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Dennis McGlynn of South Bruce Flooring walks among the logs at his hard wood flooring plant in Mildmay, Ont.

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Sepp Gmeiner of Bluewater Wood Alliance and Dennis McGlynn of South Bruce Flooring in Mildmay, Ont. chat in the showroom.

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Dennis McGlynn of South Bruce Flooring shows some of the finished hardwood products made by his company in Mildmay, Ont.

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Employees at South Bruce Flooring in Mildmay, Ont., prepare hardwood flooring.

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A log goes through the sawmill at the South Bruce Flooring flooring plant in Mildmay, Ont.

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Dennis McGlynn of South Bruce Flooring checks progress in his hardwood flooring plant in Mildmay.

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A log goes through the sawmill at the South Bruce Flooring plant in Mildmay, Ont.

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Vokes Furniture cabinet maker Cliff Price assembles a cabinet at the company's factory in Shallow Lake, Ont.

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Vokes Furniture owner Michael Vokes talks about his newest machinery acquisition, which increased his productivity by 20 per cent and allowed him to hire more staff at the company's factory in Shallow Lake, Ont.

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Vokes Furniture employee Bill Bezzo applies wood filler to a panel at the company's factory in Shallow Lake, Ont.

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Vokes Furniture employee Michelle McMillan sands a solid wood table at the company's factory in Shallow Lake, Ont.

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Vokes Furniture owner Michael Vokes talks about sleigh bed posts at the company's factory in Shallow Lake, Ont.

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Vokes Furniture employee Bill Bezzo applies wood filler to a panel.

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A Vokes Furniture employee moves nearly finished furniture from the lacquer spraying area at the company's factory in Shallow Lake, Ont.

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Vokes Furniture employee Matt Harwood retrieves a cut board from a machine.

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A Vokes Furniture employee works in the lacquer spraying area.

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Vokes furniture employee Rick Hardman assembles a sleigh bed at the company's Shallow Lake factory.

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