Mass customization for the wood products industry

Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - 9:00am – 12:00pm


Speakers: Torsten Lihra, FPInnovations; Collin Miller, SFF


Mass customization, the customization of standard products based on customer preferences, is a proven tool to differentiate a companies’ offerings. Learn about customers’ view of mass customization, their price sensitivities, and how other companies are benefiting from this new manufacturing philosophy.



Researcher and Group leader – Value-Added Products at FPInnovations, Dr. Torsten Lihra has focussed his work on the secondary processing of hardwood. Over the last 15 years, he has acquired working experience in the furniture industry and conducted research and development projects in areas such as marketing of forest products, mass customization and lean manufacturing. Dr. Lihra played a key role in creating the Partenariat de recherche sur l’industrie du meuble (PARIM) (Research partnership for the furniture industry), a major initiative for conducting R&D dedicated to the Canadian furniture industry. In 2010 he acted as Network Liaison Manager for the Strategic Value Chain Optimization Network, a pan Canadian research initiative of 12 Universities and FPInnovations.

Holder of a Ph.D. and a Master’s degree in wood sciences from Université Laval, Québec, and a Bachelor’s degree in secondary wood processing from Rosenheim, Germany, Dr. Lihra has also studied and worked as a cabinetmaker. Through his involvement in organising numerous seminars, his knowledge of secondary wood processing and his close alliances with international partners, Dr. Lihra is recognised as a key expert in the Canadian value-added wood products industry.

Urs focuses on secondary wood products manufacturing systems and business management. Urs previously served on the faculty of the North Carolina State University Department of Wood and Paper Science. His work has given special focus to the impact of foreign competition on the wood products industry in the United States and how American companies can take steps to more effectively compete globally. He has focused on Lean Manufacturing as an important component of any such strategy. Urs has more than 10 years of experience working in industry, including serving as General Manager of a wood products company in California.


Collin has been working for the last 8 years to facilitate technical and financial assistance to literally hundreds of wood products manufacturers across the Northeast including time spent as a Utilization and Marketing Forester for the Watershed Agricultural Council in the Catskills Region and more recently as Director of Wood Products Initiatives for Sustainable Forest Futures in Concord, NH. As coordinator of the Regional Wood Products Consortium in collaboration with several wood products associations, Collin is delivering knowledge, resources and connections to business leaders across a broad spectrum of the forest products industry with the programmatic objective of facilitating innovation in small to medium sized manufacturers. Collin holds an A.A.S. in Forest Technology and B.S. in Forestry from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and is a Certified Forester with the Society of American Foresters.