Making a case for success:  This  involves networking, developing relationships and a willingness to diversify  into new products or niche markets — while keeping a tight reign on costs.

Cohen Architectural Woodworking, St. James, MO —  Diversification has helped this commercial caseworks manufacturer — serving the healthcare, office, retail stores and hotels markets — grow sales 45.4% despite an economic downturn. According to President Phillip Cohen, developing a network of relationships, and increasing customer contact, has also had an impact.  “We basically develop relationships and have developed a network of companies [to do business with],” Cohen says. “When other shops get overloaded, we also do work for them.”

Cohen also has developed a marketing plan that identifies the company’s best customers and determines what makes the relationship successful. “Then we look for other customers with similar characteristics and we simulate what we’ve done with our best customers. If it works and they respond, we continue the relationship,” he says.

MASTER PLANS

Brown Wood Inc., Lincolnwood, IL
“Our philosophy is to not pass up any opportunity, large or small,” says Terry Gross, president. “We are comfortable drawing on outside resources including competitors to respond to our customer’s need. In this economy every opportunity is precious and we recognize that being responsive now will position us to take advantage of more opportunities in the future.” Increasing the finished goods inventory by 20% to service customers on a JIT basis also helped the decorative components manufacturer grow 18.4% in 2010.

Woodworker’s Studio, Steinhatchee, FL
Despite owner Jeff Wengren raising prices, he says consumers in the area are willing to pay for the quality of the company’s custom mahogany entry doors.

The Closet Guy, Beverly Hills, CA
Despite being “at the mercy” of regulations and costs, the custom closet and home organization firm grew sales 26% in 2010. “We began keeping smaller inventories to keep costs down,” says President Michael Mueller.

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.