What of the received wisdom about the woodworking industry remains true? And which of the new “truths” are accurate.

At the International Woodworking Fair, an expert told me that wood accounts for about 20 percent of the cost of a typical custom woodworking project. The rest? Design, labor, materials, commissions and mark-up. Was he correct about the cost of wood? Among the submission forms to the WOOD 100 for 2010 (see page 48), quite a few firms cited paramount concern about the cost of raw materials, especially wood.

Another observation recorded during the IWF show: more shops that had been outsourcing cabinets are taking to building their own, rather than buying finished or semi-finished goods from cabinetry firms. The operative idea is that the reliability and precision of the newest crop of portable tools means custom woodworkers can more efficiently build cabinets on site at a job in progress. On the other hand, custom woodworkers also tell me they are becoming dealers for Merillat and other cabinetry sources, even if the core of their business is commercial and architectural woodwork.

WoodLINKS and you
No one wants to be a woodworker. You may hear that pretty frequently, unless your town is one of the few with a woodworking program, or possibly a WoodLINKs-affiliated school. WoodLINKS was started more than a decade ago to remedy the image problem we have with young people. Its aim: bridge the gap between local communities and the successful woodworking businesses operating unnoticed nearby. We’ve focused 16-pages of this issue on WoodLINKs (beginning after page 12.)

We all compete with everyone. That is echoed in many industries, and continuously in the woodworking industry. Thank the downturn, and the Internet, for making it truer than ever. Maintaining awareness among your local prospects is very difficult for craftsmen between projects. There are too many other influences crying out for attention, and perhaps too long a time between jobs. Occasional customers may not remember who you are, or the services you provide; frequent clients — the professional accounts — are faced with many prospective custom woodwork services.

Margery Johnson, CEO of JK Concepts, a Denver custom woodworker, told me how her firm contends with that new market reality (see page 38). I came away very impressed with the company’s efforts, especially in its strategy to create a new culture for its employees. I asked Margery to tell you about this in a webcast. (This free presentation is delivered to you online at your computer.)

I think you’ll appreciate what Margery has to say about JK Concept’s reinvention of its operations, and its operating culture. Margery will also talk about certifications for safety and accreditation for quality — the latter with the Architectural Woodwork Institute Quality Certification Program — that have improved productivity and helped her firm win jobs. (Joining in will be Phil Duvic of the Architectural Woodwork Institute, and Craig Elias of the AWI Quality Certification Corp., to explain the basics of AWI QCP accreditation.) You will have a chance to submit questions and get answers — in real time if you register and attend on Oct. 20 at 11 a.m. Eastern time. Sign up for “How Certified Quality Can Grow Sales,” at woodworkingnetwork.com/webcasts.

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