This is the 20th year that Wood & Wood Products has compiled a list of the 100 fastest-growing secondary woodworking companies — and in some respects, it was the hardest. We saw a large number of perennial WOOD 100 companies failing to qualify this year due to lagging sales in 2008, leaving room for a large number — almost 50 percent — of first-time participants.

And while, for the second straight year, we had companies falling below the 1% mark, the good news is that, by and large, we’re seeing optimism for growth in 2010. Ninety percent of the WOOD 100 participants said they expect 2010 sales to be OK or better, with more than half — 61% — predicting good to excellent sales growth.

Achieving That Next Step

Understandably enough, increasing the bottom line is what’s important to all companies — and the factors that impact it are what cause the most concern.

In a survey of the 2009 WOOD 100 participants, the economy overwhelmingly ranked as the No. 1 concern by 69 companies, with 91 overall ranking it among their top 3 choices. Second on the list was profit margins, chosen overall by 49 companies, followed by price cutting by competitors, with 45 responses.

When asked how they plan to address these concerns, the responses covered the gamut, from investing in technology and improving productivity, satisfying green demand, to developing a broader product and/or customer base. What follows are some of the highlights:

“Getting mean and lean.” — A succinct West Coast cabinet manufacturer

“We will continue to find ways to streamline our process through higher efficiency, better scheduling and new equipment.” — Southern cabinetmaker

“Many strategies will be implemented, including: continued manufacturing improvement, satisfying green demand and creating strong relationships with clients.” — Northwest architectural woodworking firm

“We’ll continue to look for markets and services that supplement our core business. We will also continue to focus on our established relationships with our existing customer base.” — Midwest commercial millwork manufacturer

“We will continue to develop new products to make our [furniture] program better and more complete and to continue to monitor our advertising and marketing campaigns to take advantage of any market changes.” — Southwest furniture manufacturer

“We are trying to diversify. We have tried to cut costs in all areas, from rent and materials to labor. We are servicing our current customers the best we can, but we are also on the lookout for new customers and new and efficient ways of doing things.” — East Coast millwork and casework manufacturer

“Hang on tight and enjoy the ride.” — East Coast store fixture manufacturer

“Attending trade shows [for new technology] and becoming more involved with our vendors.” — Midwest specialty product manufacturer

Sign of Hope from AWFS

Although the final figures have not yet been released, no one can argue that attendance was down at this year’s Vegas fair. However, a number of exhibitors interviewed during the show said they were satisfied with the quality of those that visited their booths and the leads generated by woodworking companies serious about investing in new technology to help their businesses grow.

In an exclusive interview with Associate Publisher Rich Christianson, Angelo Gangone, vice president of the Association of Woodworking and Furnishings Suppliers, the show’s organizer, said that considering the current state of the economy, the show went well.

“Hopefully this will be the shot in the arm our industry needs,” Gangone commented. To watch the full video interview, go to iswonline.com/AWFSfair. A complete recap of the show’s events, videos and photos are also online at iswonline.com/AWFSfair.

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