Since many of these blog entries are being published both on my company’s blog and on my blog at the WoodWorkingNetwork, I figured I should share with the readers a little history of my young company.
I cannot talk about the beginnings of J. Alexander Fine Woodworking without first discussing our other company, Shutter Crafts, for the two small businesses are intimately connected.
In 1989, when I was 7 years old, my parents decided that San Francisco was not the best place to raise a family, so they moved us (me, my 3 year old brother,and my 1 year old sister) to Boise, ID, where my parents had lived a decade earlier.
My father, who was previously a salesman for Pella Windows, decided that he wanted to own his own business, and purchased a small company, Shutter Crafts, that manufactured and installed custom interior shutters. I spent many days as a young kid in that shop building bows and arrows, swords, boxes, tables, and untold numbers of Christmas presents for my family.
When I grew up and needed a job, I worked in the shop, slowly gaining knowledge of just about every technical aspect of the manufacturing process. After I graduated from high school, I took on more of the office work, like creating the cut lists from the measurement sheets, and tracking our inventory of raw materials.
Initially, I majored in civil engineering at Boise State University, but advanced math and a burgeoning love for small business and entrepreneurship, steered me towards a degree in operations management instead.
I began working full-time for my father two years before completing my degree in 2006. Each step of the way I was using the tools learned in business school to make our small company better and more efficient. I designed an inventory management and a job scheduling spreadsheet in excel, and tried to implement the lean manufacturing tools I was learning in class into our small 12,000 square foot, 7-person operation. . . until the downturn hit.
And that is where I will pick up the story next time.