PG Bison Artisan Training Boosts Shift From Hammer And Nails to Modern Power Tools

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Evans Avundiku (left) a PG Bison Trainer demonstrates how to fix a motion runner on a drawer board to Wilson Andeche (right), an artisan at the Company’s Blum Training Centre. PG Bison has trained more than 600 artisans (fundis) to design and install cabinets, cupboards, table tops and office furniture.

In recent years with the furniture industry shifting from using solid wood to other wood based products like medium density fiber boards (MDF) and particleboard, traditional carpentry hand tools are being replaced with modern power tools.

PG Bison, one of the largest manufacturers of MDF and particleboard furniture components in Kenya has in the recent years trained more than 600 artisans to design, fabricate and install kitchen cabinets, wardrobes, shop fit-outs and office furniture, and use proper tools for the assembly and installation work.

PG Bison, explained, “When we first ventured into the market, we noticed that the lack of knowledge on wood based panels with artisans was affecting the workmanship of their final products to their end-customers and negatively affecting our sales. This was because they were used to working with solid wood which is very different from panel products.”

“We decided to bridge the gap by creating a structured training programme which is provided free of charge for carpenters who buy our furniture components produced from our fiberboard and particleboard. The training is conducted by local PG Bison instructors who have been trained in South Africa and Europe.”

“We explain to them how the boards and panels are made and where best to use them, what they are capable of making and their limitations. We train them on how to use the appropriate hinges, lift and runner systems, as well as the correct tools to assemble the wood panel parts into furniture which is appealing to the customer.”

“The artisans are also shown how to measure and sketch the cabinet requirements of their customers and determine the furniture components they would like to order from PG Bison. PG Bison then produces the furniture components using the latest wood based panel processing technology to cut, edge and drill the parts.”

To achieve the best possible results from using MDF and particleboard, a significant number of artisans have been equipped with the special tools required for this work. These include circular handsaws, jigsaws and power drills to enable them to achieve high standards of assembly and installation.PG Bison has a list of trained artisans who can be recommended to clients who purchase their products. These are carpenters who have gone through the structured training and PG Bison have inspected their work at various sites to ensure that they have met the required standards.

Wilson Andeche a beneficiary of this training says compared to wood, working with MDF and particleboard is cleaner, easier and faster. “The PG Bison training gave me more confidence to talk to my customers. The finishing of the product is very good so my clients are pleased with my work and are happy to pay quickly.”

His carpentry business has grown to a Small Medium Enterprise (SME) that employs ten workers permanently. With the boom in the construction industry, he is very busy fitting cabinets in homes and in office blocks. He has been able to get big contracts one of which entailed fitting 746 units in Eastlands. In turn, he has trained some carpenters who he hires on contract when he is overwhelmed by work.

The training of artisans by PG Bison has encouraged the shift from the use of solid wood to wood-based panel products. This has resulted in a higher level of cabinet finishing in homes and offices that is comparable to that found internationally.

The raw materials for their panels are sourced in South Africa from responsibly managed, sustainable and renewable “man-made” forests, and do not cause forestry degradation on the continent.