The desperate straits brought on by today’s economy are giving way to some very creative solutions.

A recent article in The Detroit News (, “Michiganians mine bodies for cash to make ends meet,” illustrates how thinking “outside of the box” is leading to, in my opinion, some bizarre, but profitable results. (Money-making ideas put forth in the article included participation in medical research studies, selling long hair for $1,000 a shot, selling eggs for $4,000 or making $50 a week for selling his own plasma.)

It’s not only individuals. Companies nationwide also are going “outside the box” in order to survive in the current economy.

While not as extreme as the instances cited in Michigan, many in the woodworking community have embarked on strategies that will expand their profit margins. In this month’s State of the Industry Report, beginning on page 28, executives in the cabinet industry discuss ways in which they have diversified their product lines or focused their marketing efforts in new directions.

For example, Bill Weaver, president and CEO of Canyon Creek Cabinet Co., recently announced his company’s move into the closet market. In a recent statement, he said, “Closet systems are a natural extension of our existing business, as we already have designers and salespeople working with our customers supplying cabinetry for kitchens, bathrooms, home offices, entertainment centers and more.”

When interviewed, John Gahm, plant manager for Kitchen Kompact, said, “To compensate for the downturn, we have introduced some new products to the marketplace and reacquainted ourselves to potential customers throughout the country.”

Jim Ewing, sales manager for McConnell Cabinets, added that his company is looking not only at new product offerings, but is exploring new geographic markets.

Other cabinet company executives say they are using green initiatives to give themselves a strategic advantage over competitors. “We have had considerably more requests for green materials and FSC products in the past 12 months, over the previous 12 months, especially in commercial projects,” said Mike Junk, Crestwood president.

What is your company doing to stay ahead? Drop me a line and let me know.

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