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Quality Times | News and updated from the AWI Quality Certification Corporation
Winter 2010
In This Issue:
Top News
•  Clarification of 2011 QCP Policy Revisions
•  Q-certified Doors: The Accreditation and Certification Processes Explained
•  QCC Applies for FSC Chain of Custody Accreditation
•  QCC Staff and Q-representatives Complete RABQSA-certified ISO 9001:2008 Lead Auditor Training
•  2011 QCC Renewal Period Set to Close December 31
•  QCC Inspects Product 'Made in China'
View from Here
•  QCP, Deflation, China, and Exports: The Latest Trends
Tech Talk
•  Countertop Construction in the AWS
Rep. Spotlight
•  Ralph Greco
Q Top News
Clarification of 2011 QCP Policy Revisions

Since the release of the revised 2011 policy revisions several weeks ago, the QCC has fielded numerous requests for clarification, particularly related to the shop drawing and triennial inspection requirements. Below is some additional information that will help clarify these new policies, which go into effect January 1, 2011.

Shop Drawings
Do all QCP-certified projects require shop drawing review?

A. No. Only projects that require inspection and projects included in triennial inspections require shop drawing review, whether under AWI Quality Standards Illustrated (QSI) or the Architectural Woodwork Standards (AWS).

Q. Is QCP approval of shop drawings required before submittal to architect?

A. No. The policies require that the Q-representative receive a copy of the architect-approved drawings prior to the plant or field inspection. If drawings are sent to the Q-representative and inspected before submittal to the architect, copies of the approved drawings will need to be sent to the Q-representative prior to the plant and/or field inspection.

Q. How long it will take the Q-representative to review the shop drawings?

A. The amount of time required for shop drawing review will depend on the number of drawings, and the degree to which they conform to the standards (QSI or AWS).

Triennial Inspection
What if our firm has no QCP project available for inspection at the time of the triennial? 

A. Q-accredited firms may use any project, as long as the QSI or the AWS are specified in the contract document, and as long as the project, at minimum, meets custom grade. Firms still need to register and certify the project as per the policy requirements.

Familiarization and compliance with the QCP policies, in their entirety, are required in order to obtain and maintain Q-accreditation. Click here to review the 2011 policy revisions in depth. An up-to-date copy of the 2011 QCP Policies may be downloaded from our Web site,

Q-certified Doors: The Accreditation and Certification Processes Explained

As previously announced, Q-certification of doors is now available through the AWI QCC. Under this new certification initiative, doors will be evaluated according to the Architectural Woodwork Standards (AWS) for Faces and Finishing and the Wood Door Manufacturer's Association (WDMA) Standards for Performance. The process involves three steps:

  1. Application Process. Those seeking Q-certified door accreditation must complete and submit the application form and pay the $4,800 annual fee in advance.
  2. Accreditation Audit. Following completion of the application process, applicants will undergo an audit to evaluate the company's systems and processes related to manufacturing doors in accordance with WDMA performance ratings and AWS quality grades for faces, exposed edges and finishing. During the audit, a Q-representative will verify the presence of written documentation of the company's systems and processes. If written documentation is unavailable, the audit will consist of a series of interviews with personnel responsible for execution of the processes and conformance to the standards. The absence of documented procedures during the initial audit will be considered a minor nonconformity; however in subsequent audits, the absence of documented procedures will be considered a major nonconformity, requiring a repeat site evaluation at the expense of the manufacturer in order to confirm corrective action.
  3. Door-certification Process. Only companies that have been accredited to certify that their products meet the Q-certified product requirements are eligible to certify doors. Payment is due when an order is placed (see door certification fee schedule below), and labels and/or certificates of compliance will be sent directly to the accredited manufacturer.

Door Certification Fee Schedule:

  • Per door certification fee = .25
  • Manufacturers that certify 5,000+ doors the previous month receive a $400 credit applied toward the first 1,600 doors certified during the following month. The credit does not carryover to other months.

For additional information, visit our Web site,, to download a copy of the 2011 QCP Policies.

QCC Applies for FSC Chain of Custody Accreditation

The QCC has officially embarked on an initiative to become accredited to offer Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Chain of Custody (CoC) certification in 2011. The FSC is a non-profit organization devoted to encouraging the responsible management of the world's forests. Products bearing the FSC logo guarantee that wood from certified well-managed forests is available across the world from a variety of mills, manufacturers, and distributors.

For companies that manufacture or trade certified products, FSC certification tracks materials as they leave the forest and move downstream. Like any inventory control system, CoC certification allows products to be segregated and identified as originating from a particular source -- in this case, an FSC-certified forest.

To achieve its goal, FSC accredits independent, third-party auditors to conduct CoC certification audits of interested companies. Although the accredited certifiers evaluate companies based on FSC's policies for CoC, each certifier uses its own evaluative process, allowing FSC to remain distanced from the assessment process and supporting the integrity of the policies and the FSC system.

QCC has applied for FSC CoC Accreditation via Accreditation Services International GmbH (ASI). ASI is an independent accreditation body which delivers accreditation and other relevant services to the FSC and other certification schemes worldwide. Currently, there are 11 applicants undergoing evaluation for FSC accreditation, and QCC is the only applicant located in the United States. There are only 12 FSC-accredited certifiers worldwide.

While many of the details regarding QCC's CoC certification procedures are yet to be determined, they will be simple and straightforward. Companies interested in pursuing FSC-certification will have to provide evidence during inspection that their inventory control system clearly and comprehensively documents all FSC products -- from receiving, to production and delivery.

Additional details will be divulged as they become available. Contact AWI QCC Executive Vice President Craig Elias,, with questions.  

QCC Staff and Q-representatives Complete RABQSA-certified ISO 9001:2008 Lead Auditor Training

Lead auditor training is required for FSC Chain of Custody accreditation

QCC Compliance Auditor Ashley Goodin, along with Q-representatives Greg Parham and John Reininger, completed a RABQSA-certified ISO 9001:2008 Lead Auditor Training course. Training consisted of an intense 36-hour, 4-day course conducted by Tami Damian of the LEAD Group in Lincoln, NE, during which students learned auditing techniques required for various types of certification programs, including FSC. Specifically, students learned the roles and responsibilities of an auditor, interviewing and note-taking skills, identifying and documenting non-conformities, and creation of an audit report.

"This was a huge undertaking and is a major accomplishment for Ashley, Greg and John," said Q3C Program Director Tricia Roberts. "It meets one of the FSC's many requirements for FSC accreditation, putting us one step closer to our goal of being able to offer FSC certification in 2011."

2011 QCC Renewal Period Set to Close December 31

QCC renewals are due by 11:59 PM EST, Dec. 31, 2010. Companies that submit after this date will be charged a $300 late fee, so send in those renewals now to avoid additional costs. The renewal process involves two steps:

  1. Payment of renewal fees ($1,100 for current AWI manufacturing members; $2,500 for non-AWI members).
  2. Signature and date of acknowledgement on the AWI QCC Code of Ethics form, which has been revised accordingly:

      We are committed to elevating the level of quality in the woodwork industry and we support the goals of the AWI Quality Certification Corporation. We agree to abide by the rules and regulations as outlined in the Quality Certification Program Policies and with the Architectural Woodwork Institute's quality standards. We will conduct ourselves in a manner that is a credit to the industry.

Firms that have not yet been Q-accredited for one full year are also required to renew at a pro-rated fee. Click here to renew online now (requires username and password).

QCC Inspects Product 'Made in China'
By Gordon Graham, regional Q-representative

In November, QCC Executive Vice President Craig Elias and I had the opportunity to conduct accreditation inspections for two firms in China. Both firms are located in Guangdong province, Peoples Republic of China, about two hours from Hong Kong.

In general, these inspections revealed that product "Made in China" does not necessarily reflect the quality concerns we often associate with the phrase. In fact, both firms showed product on-par with that found throughout the United States. Non-compliant items were also similar in nature, including adjustable shelves which were too long for their thickness (or too thin for their length), screws missing in drawer slides, and non-laminate drawers in HPDL casework. Both companies use extremely labor-intensive techniques, along with fairly sophisticated machinery.

One firm, in Zhangmutou, P.R. China, produces architectural woodwork for the resort and gaming industry with a focus on doors and wood frames, along with paneling and casework. This company has multiple buildings, including one for manufacturing, one for finishing, and one for inspection, packing and shipping of product. They operate several kilns, including one retort tank for vacuum extraction of moisture from the wood they use for production.

Manufacturing functions include veneering using hot and cold presses, flat and membrane profile veneering, plus radio-frequency gluing; there are moulders for solid wood processing, and a flat-line UV-cure finishing line in addition to traditional finishing methods. On display were several elaborate designs of both flush and stile-and-rail doors.

The other firm, located in Taishan City P.R. China, produces kitchens for the European market, and wood casework for the laboratory and educational markets. They are in the process of moving into a new facility, which also includes multiple large buildings. The new location is partially operational with sanding and finishing in use. Sanding and finishing, separately located, have water wash dust and spray exhaust systems. They also do flat-panel veneering and have a full line of solid wood machining and assembly.

Of concern during both inspections was the quality of materials used in production. Where their particleboard comes from and whether it meets ANSI and ISO requirements, as well as whether the hardware meets BHMA requirements were investigated further. Product data sheets were requested and furnished, and it turns out their materials come from all over the world, including Europe and the United States. All materials conformed to the AWS.

Of particular interest, is the fact that both firms offer employee housing to accommodate employees who come from all over China and other countries, and only go home once a year. One firm even has a staff nurse, and all employees are required to undergo a physical twice a year. Housing and company-mandated healthcare are apparently standard practices within the Chinese culture.

In closing, sub-standard quality and the derogative nature of the term "Made in China" certainly do not apply to these firms. It simply means that they are playing by the same rules and standards as U.S. manufacturers producing AWI quality woodwork in a world economy.  

Q View from Here
QCP, Deflation, China, and Exports: The Latest Trends
By Craig Elias, AWI QCC executive vice president

The AWI Quality Certification Corporation (QCC), like most companies, operated on several different planes this past year. We focused on our current program mandate, and at the same time planned for the future to ensure we continue to provide you with relevant services you can employ to strengthen your competitive position in the market place.

The AWI Quality Certification Program (QCP) continued its momentum from prior years with strong growth. As of this writing, the program has 609 accredited firms in three countries, and 90 companies (three in China) undergoing the accreditation process. The rate of project certification has increased 17 percent over last year, and the number of inspections has grown by 20 percent.

Although it is not with satisfaction that I add this, but for the record it is important, the number of companies whose accreditation was revoked, and the number of applicants that failed the accreditation process also rose. There was one predominant reason companies lost their QCP accreditation: they failed to fulfill the biennial inspection requirements. The main reason companies did not successfully complete the application process was similar:  the work shown did not fulfill the requirements in the AWI standards. The good news is that those companies are the exception. In general, the Q-representatives reported an overall commitment by QCP firms to conformance with the program policies and AWI's quality standards.

The biggest challenge I heard from many of you was that you were forced to lower your bid amounts to a degree that was impossible to make money if you were to conform to the project requirements, yet there was no relaxation of those requirements. Despite the economists' reporting to the contrary, you were (and some still are) the victims of deflation. Therefore, some of you were forced to make a choice between losing money on a project (and in some cases a LOT of money), or make strategic decisions regarding the extent to which you would adhere to the project's specifications. Add to this a QCP inspection and the situation becomes even more challenging. The customer feels entitled to more than they are actually paying for; the woodworker is doing everything they can to ensure the project being built is not their own coffin, and the QCP, by all appearances, shows up to nail the coffin shut. I can see how one could see it this way. But, it isn't so.

The Q-representative's job, albeit complex, is also simple: report what is seen, and report only objective evidence. In other words, they are to perform the unbiased inspection you would want them to perform while inspecting your competition. This of course goes nowhere to solving the problem of deflation mentioned above, but we won't look the other way, we won't report fiction, and we can't choose not to show up. I am looking for solutions here, and I am willing to try anything reasonable. If you think it would be helpful to submit a letter from QCP or AWI to the design professional (or the general contractor) explaining that expecting premium-grade woodwork for custom- or economy-grade pricing is unrealistic (and absurd), I will write the QCP letter immediately. If you think a phone call would help, let me know; I'll make the call. If you have an idea, tell me. Your success matters to us.

Early in November, QCP Regional Representative Gordon Graham and I traveled to Hong Kong and China. QCP currently has three applicants in China, and Gordon went to inspect two of these firms. Gordon's article does an excellent job describing the quality of the work he saw there. Whereby I will rarely be accused of brevity, I shall endeavor to avoid redundancy, and focus not on what we saw, but on what I learned.

Both of the firms we visited in China enjoy strategic partnerships with AWI member firms in the United States; these relationships were formed well before their applications to the QCP. One of the American firms requested that QCC respect the confidentiality of its supplier list and opted to remain silent for this story.

Mike Floyd of Glenn Rieder in Wisconsin, however, spoke openly with me about his company's decision to partner with a Chinese manufacturer. Glenn Rieder is an AWI member and a QCP participant. They fabricate and install millwork and architectural finishes for the hospitality and gaming industries (among others) throughout the United States. In an email exchange, Floyd wrote:

"We've long been searching for a high quality, lower cost alternative manufacturing partner for our U.S. projects that have longer lead times. Finding an international low cost supplier was never that difficult; however, identifying and partnering with a firm that has the resources and is capable, is quite another."

Dongguan Sundart Timber Products (Sundart) of southern China employs 600 people and manufactures casework, passage doors, paneling, and millwork for multiple markets around the world. They source materials globally and they have multiple certifications including ISO 9001, FSC Chain of Custody, and various fire rating certifications from Underwriter's Laboratory and Warnock Hersey. What struck me about this company was its commitment to understanding the requirements of the various standards (they ship all over the world), and the rules and policies associated with the multitude of programs and codes with which they need to comply. They do their research and are thus fully equipped to make informed decisions. Again, per Floyd:

"We were very impressed with Sundart's management. They are particularly knowledgeable about efficient fabrication practices for a custom architectural millwork manufacturer. They had the vision and desire to participate in the U.S. market, but rather than just jumping in, they did their homework first by joining AWI and adopting its quality standards."

By learning and conforming to the AWI standards and the QCP policies, Sundart is positioned to be a formidable participant in this program. Competition is one of those facts of life that we love when we have the advantage, and hate when we're challenged beyond our comfort zone. As the QCP has grown over the years, competition has increased for everyone. It has come from across the country, from across the northern border, and from across the street. It is now coming from across the ocean.

Market demand for architectural woodwork is a crucial component in the equation of success every AWI member and QCP participant must solve every day. Whereby the recipe for demand has many ingredients, the expectation of receiving a quality product must not be underestimated. Supplying substandard products hurts not only the buyer, but it hurts the industry by diminishing the customer's expectations and consequently reducing the chances they'll choose wood as an interior finish in the future.

The QCP evaluates its applicants on the basis of their ability and competence to fabricate, finish, and/or install in conformance with the AWI quality standards. Elevated and continued prevalence of adhering to the AWI quality standards benefits the woodwork industry, AWI members, program participants, and the construction industry as a whole. If the competition is qualified, let it come from where it may.

Hong Kong is known for its deepwater port. The number of container ships heading west is astounding. Typically, these ships have the capacity to carry 7,500 40-foot containers each. According to the Port of Hamburg's list of the world's 20 busiest ports, Hong Kong ranked third in 2009, having shipped more than 10 million containers, which was down 20 percent from 2008. Second on the list is Shanghai, and fourth is Shenzhen (also in China).

Anyone paying attention to the US trade deficit will realize that most of the containers heading to the United States are going back empty. According to one freight forwarder I met along the way, freight charges from the US to Asia are one-third the cost of freight from Asia to the US.

Also in economic news is the constant reminder of the US Dollar's weakness against most major foreign currencies. Whereby this is not great news if you want to go shopping in London, Brussels, or Tokyo, it is great news if you want to sell to customers in Seoul, Abu Dhabi, or Singapore. Growth in construction spending is expected to increase throughout the Middle East and Asia. These markets are being supplied by European and Asian companies.

Often, as in the case of the Cleveland Clinic being built in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, construction projects are being designed and engineered by US-based architectural firms and specify products conforming to US-based standards (such as the AWS). With a weak dollar, low freight costs, and growing demand from abroad, the US manufacturer may be able to compete in regions previously considered impenetrable. The US Commerce Department's International Trade Administration's Web site has scores of free resources to help US manufacturers learn how to export, the various rules one needs to contend with around the world, and many studies and forecasts for the various markets.

This is a global economy, and from what I have seen, there is no reason why the QCP participant shouldn't be able to compete across the street, across the country, across the border, and across the ocean. 

Q Tech Talk
Countertop Construction in the AWS
by Shows Leary, QCC director and regional Q-representative

Most woodworkers are familiar with the basic construction of a laminate countertop, which has a deck covered with horizontal-grade laminate. There is a core, which depending on application, can be standard particleboard or in cases of sink locations, moisture resistant board is required. Of course backer is required for premium-grade countertops at all locations. (See previous Talk Tech article on backer specifics.)

In the newly published Architectural Woodwork Standards (AWS), the criterion for countertop types has been expanded. Beginning on page 297 in section 11, item, are the design considerations for countertop construction. On the following pages (298 through 301), additional details are discussed for many types of countertop construction.

For example, pages 298 and 299 are dedicated to laminate countertop construction. Section details six types of laminate countertops, including three types of post-formed tops -- one fully formed top, one no-drip edge with a coved splash, and a wood edge with no splash.

Section details three options for splash details for the point at which the splash joins the wall. Two of these include scribe options, while the third is the typical square-edge splash.

Section details three options for the point at which the splash meets the deck, including two types of butt joints and a cove joint.

Section details 12 types of front or leading edges that can be used. They include self-edged details, waterfall details, wood-edge details, and miter fold and PVC edge details.

Section details back- and end-splash construction details.

Section details the use of tight joint fasteners at field joints.

Section details three types of solid lumber countertop choices.

Section details three types of veneer-faced countertops.

Sections through detail solid-surface splash, and deck and edge options.

Sections through detail solid phenolic, epoxy resin and natural/manufactured stone countertop detail options at the splash, deck and edge.

There are a lot of details available for countertop construction. To help clarify those details in the shop drawings you will see that in Section 1, Submittals, pages 40 and 41, section, all of the above-mentioned details are required on the shop drawings at a minimum 3" to 1'-0" scale.

In a recent article about Standards, under Species of Veneer, I erroneously stated "White Maple, that being maple without any sap wood in it." Of course white maple is all sap and no heartwood. I want to thank Mike DiGiuro from Flexible Materials, Inc. for pointing out that error. See page 390 for a definition of heart wood, and page 399 for the definition of sapwood. 

Q Rep. Spotlight
Ralph Greco

Ralph Greco grew up around his family's architectural woodworking business in New Jersey. His first job was tailing a veneer splicer at age eight, and this on-the-job training continued through college. Soon after graduating from Montclair State College (now Montclair State University) in 1973, he moved to North Carolina and started his own architectural plywood firm. Ralph oversaw this business until 2006, and after a brief retirement, he joined the QCC as a Q-representative, responsible for conducting inspections in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and parts of Virginia and Georgia. Along with his wife, Elise, Ralph spends time at their residences in Bermuda Run, NC, Sunset Beach, NC, and Sheridan, WY. In his spare time, Ralph can be found on the golf course. 

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Congratulations to the following companies that recently earned Q-accreditation. Look for these and more than 500 other Q-accredited woodworkers at

Albin Hengesbach Carpentry & Custom Cabinets, Inc.
Westphalia, MI 
P10.1, P10.2, P10.3, P11

C.L.S. Custom Laminating Specialists, LLC
Green Bay, WI 
P10.1, P10.3, P11

Commercial Casework, Inc.
Jacksonville, FL 
P10.3, P10 E

Custom Cabinet Shop, Inc.
Bridgeville, DE 
P10.1, P11, P10 E, P5, C10.3

D7 Partners, Inc.
Washington, DC 
P5, P6 E, P10 E, P11, P11 E, P6.1, P8.1, P8.3, P8 E

Fame Mfg. NM School Products 
Albuquerque, NM 
P10.3, P10 E, P11, P11 E

JC Huffman Cabinetry 
Fairfield, IA 
P5, P6.1, P8.2, P10.1, P10.2, P10.3, P11, P8.1, P8.3

Mahogany, Inc.
Baltimore, MD 
P6 E, P8 E, P10 E

Precision Casework 
Oklahoma City, OK 
1, P10.3, P10 E, P11, P11 E

R.B. Woodcraft, Inc.
Syracuse, NY 
P5, 1, P6.1, P8.1, P8.2, P8.3

Riverwoods Mill, Inc. 
St. George, UT 
P5, P6, P6.1, P6.2, P6.3, P6 E, P8, P8.1, P8.2, P8 E, P9, P9.2, P9 E, P10, P10.2, P10.3, P10 E

Southeastern Architectural Woodworks Company 
Tuscaloosa, AL 
C5, C10.2, C10.3, C10 E, C11, C11 E, P5, P10.3, P11

Southern Woodsmith, Inc. 
Pelham, AL 
P5, P6.1, P6E, P8.1, P9E, P10.1, P11E, C10.1, C11
WJ Bergin Cabinetry 
Orlando FL 
P5, P10 E, P11, P11 E, P10.1, P10.3

Wood Concepts, Inc. 
Cleveland, OH 
P11, P10.1, P10.3


AWI QCC Board of Directors
QCC President
Dean G. Rummel
TMI Systems Design
Dickinson, ND

Steve Bialek
Englewood, CO 

Tim Byrne
Woodbyrne Cabinets
St. Louis, MO

Doug Carney
R & S Casework, Inc.
Fargo, ND

Philip Duvic *
Architectural Woodwork
Potomac Falls, VA

Shows Leary
Shows Leary Project
Petersburg, NY

Matt Lundahl
Meyer and Lundahl
Phoenix, AZ

William A. Munyan, AIA, CSI
R&M Group PLLC
Charlotte, NC

Patrick Nartker *
2008-2009 AWI
QCC Treasurer
Ted Bolle Millwork, Inc.
Springfield, OH

Greg Shenkler
Skanska Building USA
Raleigh, NC

* ex officio
The board, which convenes in the fall each year, is responsible for program oversight, including policies and budgets.


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