Inheriting Taiwan’s woodworking machinery heritage

With plans to strengthen Taiwan’s woodworking machinery industry, including digitalisation and boosting media presence, Joe Chang, the newly elected chairman of the Taiwan Woodworking Machinery Association, has much in store to expand the industry domestically and internationally.

By Yap Shi Quan

Joe Chang, the new chairman of TWMA

“A rich heritage”

The Taiwan Woodworking Machinery Association (TWMA) has been representing Taiwanese woodworking machinery manufacturers since 1986. As its new chairman, Joe Chang, who was elected in February this year, is about to shoulder over 40 years of Taiwan’s woodworking machinery legacy with the responsibility of bringing it to greater heights.

But Chang is no stranger to the woodworking machinery scene in Taiwan, having been in it for more than 34 years: “I inherited my father’s company, Kuang Yung Machinery, which was established in 1960. I belong to the second generation, and my son has also joined in as the third-generation successor. I am very clear with the current industry environment and future challenges. The woodworking machinery in Taiwan has a rich heritage; some companies that have been running longer even have their fourth-generation successors joining in.”

Chang described briefly to Panels & Furniture Asia the history of TWMA, explaining that the association was initially called the Taiwan Association of Machinery Industry (TAMI). TAMI held its first woodworking machinery exhibition in Songshan Airport in Taipei, Taiwan, which had earned them more than NT$1 million (US$37,000).

Back in 1981, Taiwan’s export value of woodworking machinery was about $1.3 billion (US$48 million). Currently, the export reached an all-time high of $25 billion (US$910 million) in 2021, and Taiwan is ranked fourth in the global woodworking machinery export rankings, behind Germany, China and Italy. Chang explained that such a high ranking is credited to the first generation, who has created a good foundation for the second and third generations to build upon. The ranking can also be attributed to how the second- and third-generation successors are earnest at studying, developing innovated products, and expanding Taiwan’s market globally. “I can envision Taiwan’s woodworking machinery still having a place in the world for the next five years. The new second-, third- and fourth-generation successors will continue developing their companies,” said Chang.

This article first appeared on the March/April issue of Panels & Furniture Asia. To read on, click here.