Rangate Euro Tour 2016
From March 9 to 19, we traveled with over 20 North American woodworkers to get an all-access look at European production factories, and concluded our journey at Fensterbau 2016, the world's largest window and door exhibition, which occurs alongside the Holz-Handwerk general woodworking expo.
Click on "TOUR Feed" to see the some of the best things we and our attendees shared from our experience on Social Media.
About the Trip
Click on the map above to discover each destination city our group is visiting this year. You'll find the latest updates, with pictures and videos from our shop visits. This is our 5th annual Euro Tour- and this year is our biggest and best yet. We'll be visiting 10 different production factories in 4 different countries before finishing our experience at Fensterbau.
Before the tour, we hit the slopes in northern Italy to get some skiing in! Check out some shots of our trip below- the skies were grey, but the powder was fresh and we had a great time connecting with our friends outside the wood shop.
We're began our journey in Verona, Italy this year. It always feels a little like the first day of summer camp- reuniting with some old friends, getting introduced to some new ones, and getting set for a great experience together, full of new and interesting things. Verona is best known from Shakespeare- it's the setting of several of his plays, including his best-known work, Romeo & Juliet. Because the city has an impressive mix of Roman, Medieval, and Renaissance history and buildings, it's a great place to dive into Europe and immerse ourselves in the region's thousands of years of history and culture.
We stayed at the Ecohotel Bonapace, a Passive-House certified hotel. Experiencing the interior comfort of high performance wood fenestration for ourselves was quite an experience. While the weather was still a mix of late winter and early spring, our rooms always stayed at the perfect temperature, without adjusting the heating. The ownership was even kind enough to hold a knowledge session about Passive House where our attendees were able to dig deep into the meat and potatoes of Passive House- what it really takes to achieve the standard. We all came away with a better understand of what Passive House is all about- one of our favorite things about the TOUR is this kind of knowledge sharing!
From Verona, it was a short trip to Rovereto, where we got to see some of the latest fenestration technology from our friends at Zuani. Seeing how precision cutters get milled into shape from steel discs was amazing to see first-hand, and we had a chance to speak to Cristian and Tomas Zuani about some of the latest innovations the company is developing to make building windows faster and better than ever. We'd like to thank the Zuani family for opening their doors to us, and hosting us for a memorable and full day of learning and fun,
Our trip to Italy wouldn't be complete without some visits to window production shops. We were lucky enough to visit Valentini, another local window factory where our tour group got an up close look at high-volume solid wood window production, using advanced CNC technology. It was quite a learning experience to see how old-world craftsmanship met technological innovation.
We continued on to Leonardi Brothers, a working shop where we got to see not only the build process but examples of their finished windows and doors, which were expertly made and beautiful to see. It's true that Italians have a distinct way of blending style and performance, even when working with wood. We received so much hospitality that our arrival was even featured in the local newspaper!
On to Switzerland! As we travel across the Alps on the bus, we're starting to get to know each other and build some pretty interesting friendships. Some of the most valuable time on the Tour isn't necessarily in the shops- it's talking about the challenges and opportunities we have in our own shops back home and pooling our knowledge to figure out how to do things better. Sometimes new projects between our group even start to spring up, and that's when we know we're building something special. Our first shop visit was at ICSA, where we dug deep into the design of performance windows- learning how to preserve performance while maintaining the aesthetic look demanded by customers.
We took in the sights and alpine air in Lake Constance and Zurich to enjoy a day as tourists with no scheduled activities. While everyone was free to explore on their own, we can't really stop talking wood! It was on everyone's tongues as we enjoyed everything the region has to offer, from the botanical sanctuary on Mainau Island to the history of Zurich. Good food, good beer, and good friends in one of the world's most livable cities- we couldn't ask for more.
We'll be getting the most out of our journey in Germany's southern Baden-Württemberg region, visiting some of the region's window production shops as we travel to across the country. The time we spend traveling together is often just as fun and interesting as visiting the shops- usually we talk about the things we've seen, and apply our creativity to see how we could adapt them to work at home. We've found there are always some great collaborations that come out of these conversations once we return home to North America. Who knows what kind of exciting projects will get their start this year?
We'll spend a full day with some of the Czech Republic's most advanced window and door production shops. Prague's reputation as a must-see destination in any tour of Europe is well-deserved, and Our good friend Jaroslav Soukup will be our host for an Open House tour at the Soukup S.r.o.'s production facility. This is one of the secret gems of our Euro Tour- look forward to some cool pictures and video from this leg of our journey on social media! Before we leave, we'll toast with the famous Czech beer that the country become world-renowned for and get ready for the final part of the Euro Tour.
As our journey winds down, it's time to enjoy the show! This year we'll take in everything Fensterbau and Holz-Handwerk have to offer. We've found the best part of visiting the show is not only the latest technological innovations in the industry, but the chance to connect with professionals from all aspects of the industry with new perspectives, and fresh knowledge.
After a week traveling, learning, and making new friends, it’s time to enjoy the show! At the tail end of the TOUR, we settle in to Nuremberg, Germany, to enjoy Fensterbau and Holz-Handwerk, the largest window and door exhibition in the world, and its companion show which exhibits all things woodworking. Nuremberg has been known as a center of craftsmanship since it was a home of the artisan guilds of the Middle Ages- but we’ll be looking to the future instead of the past. At Fensterbau, we’ll see first-hand all of the latest innovations and technologies which shape solid wood.
Building great windows requires a blend of the tried and true styles the North American market has developed with innovations and perspective from Europe. Taking the best from both of these worlds and combining them is what the Euro Tour is all about, and there's nowhere to get this reaction started than at this largest window and door exhibition. We'll be joining our partners from Soukup America at Hall 11, Stand 314, and Zuani in Hall 8, Stand 521. Before we say auf wiedersehen, we’ll cap off the experience by hosting a dinner which will host our friends from both sides of the Atlantic in all aspects of the industry. We hope to see you there!