The Resurgence of Wood Manufacturing Plus More WOOD 100 Stories

By Karen Koenig | Posted: 09/10/2012 10:37AM

 

The wood products industry in North America continues to advance, especially when it comes to marketing, technology and product innovations.

This was never more evident than at the recent International Woodworking Fair, where thousands of woodworking professional, representing all segments of the industry, thronged exhibitors’ booths looking for the latest technology and best practices to improve their company’s productivity and profitability.

WOOD 100 Productivity enhancements and technology integration are just two of the strategies used by wood products manufacturers to grow their business. Others include: new marketing initiatives, go-to-market strategies, business strategies, product innovations and customer service. What follows are a few examples submitted by the more than 100 companies participating in this year’s WOOD 100: Strategies for Success.

Here is a quick look at some of the standout strategies used to improve their businesses:

• Knowing that today’s consumers rely on multiple sources to obtain information, Florida-based Milan Kitchens maximizes its efforts through a combination of TV and web advertising, as well as marketing through its franchises. The effort has been proven successful, with the kitchen and closet company achieving 20% sales growth in 2011.

Contests and social media sites also have proven to be successful marketing avenues for companies wishing to increase their brand recognition. Alabama-based Wellborn Cabinet not only partners with HGTV to provide cabinetry for Dream Homes, but last year the company launched multiple social media sites, three additional brand-specific consumer sites, and new mobile apps.

• Obtaining and retaining employees was mentioned by a number of participants as being essential to the success of their business. Kansas-based Display Solutions of Topeka takes it one step further by working with local vocational schools “to teach more of the skills we are looking for in new associates” and in turn providing internships, says Scott Johnson, GM/president. “We are planning to hire at least two students each year that have demonstrated the skills necessary to fabricate our products.”

• In another example, success for Michigan-based Great Lake Woods comes from constant review of “internal procedures, processes and technology for maximum efficiency,” says Katie Malmstadt, marketing manager of the moulding, millwork and components firm. She adds that the company also “has started to review long-term commitments with vendors, plan for more internal training to improve workmanship, invest in technological additions and make capital improvements to the facility.”

• “We watch our spending and build every project as smart as we can,” was the sage advice offered by Jeff Ball, president of Wisconsin-based store fixture manufacturer Wisconsin Built Inc. Company sales rose 78.8 percent, due in part to increased productivity gained from the purchase of new machines, including a nesting router.

• Like many other wood products manufacturers, sales growth for kitchen and bath components maker Northern Contours comes in part from the company's continued efforts to offer a diversified product range and expand its market channels, says Lary Skow, vice president of sales and marketing. Drawer Box Specialties President Cathy Blankenship agrees with this strategy, adding that "being more creative in our approach to products and options," along with an emphasis on green products, has helped the components maker spur growth.

• "Reliability, integrity and a proven reputation for quality," notes Locklear Cabinet & Woodwork Owner Harold Locklear, is also key to having a successful business, and an integral part of the company's overall customer service.

Click here to read more of the WOOD 100’s Strategies of Success. Also watch for the upcoming WOOD 100: Strategies of Success webcast, coming in November.


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About the Author

Karen M. Koenig

Karen M. Koenig has more than 25 years of experience in the woodworking industry, including visits to wood products manufacturing facilities throughout North America, Europe and Asia. As Editor-in-Chief of Wood Products (formerly Wood & Wood Products), Karen’s primary responsibilities include spearheading the writing, editing and coordinating of the editorial content of the publication, along with the Red Book resource guide and the Red Book online source and supply directory (RedBookOnline.com). She is also a frequent contributor to other Woodworking Network online and print media. She can be reached at kkoenig@woodworkingnetwork.com or Google+.

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