When I travel to visit woodworking companies, I’m often asked, “How do we compare with other companies you’ve seen?”

That can be a difficult judgment to make. Here are some of my own observations from visiting many successful companies. I first did this list several years ago, and have modified and changed some of the items since then.

 

Successful companies…

1. Treat employees well, offering good pay and benefits.

2. Have a core group of key people that have been with the company a long time.

3. Emphasize training, both in new technology and employee development.

4. Stay focused and know what they do well.

5. Say no to some jobs if they don’t fit. Pay attention to pricing and don’t take money-losing jobs.

6. Are engaged with the industry, being part of associations and attending trade shows and events.

7. Are not afraid to get an outside opinion on a problem, or to talk to another shop about how they dealt with the same issue.

8. Recognize when new technology can pay off, and are not afraid to make the jump to an advanced but unfamiliar technology.

9. Identify a need and match software to that need before purchasing.

10. Use lean manufacturing techniques if possible. Companies are not afraid to redo the shop layout or manufacturing flow if efficiency can be increased.

11. Have some knowledge of competitors, as well as their strengths and weaknesses.

12. Have paid more attention to their finishing capability.

 

Any comments? What are some of the habits of successful companies that you’ve seen? Let me know at karl.forth@woodworkingnetwork.com.