Large wood industry firms restructure; small woodworking businesses retool and reposition. Either way, it’s a critical moment to prepare for the recovery. Daniel Island Woodworks, a Charleston, SC, custom woodworking operation (see page 22), has identified a market opening: with closure of several kitchen cabinet businesses in its area, the firm is targeting home builders and remodelers as an opportunity for growth. It will also open a design center where its clients can meet with their clients for creative development of projects. It will be standing at-the-ready with all its woodworking expertise to take those dream projects to reality and grow another market segment.

At another custom woodworking business, this one in Michigan, the owner told us he is “skeptically optimistic” after nine weeks of continuous activity — following three years of dead time. His firm has formed an alliance with four other similarly-sized woodworking businesses to gain some economies of scale. And he has retooled his plant with a major new CNC installation, shifting the materials workflow in his operation.

Change in Customer Perceptions
Clean Shavings Woodworking in West Salem, WI, is seeing renewed interest among business customers in repair and restoration of quality furnishings. High-quality real wood furniture is being held onto longer by customers, says Clean Shavings, and can be restored at one quarter the cost of comparable quality new pieces rather than replaced.

Wood industry and woodworking businesses around the country are beginning to see the signs of change among customers, with a new thriftiness that also calculates value in the value proposition for deals. While you may be postponing cutting that check for new investment, we’d advise moving directly to identify ways to take advantage of the recovery.

Part of the solution will be strategy; part will certainly be technology. So you might want to plan a trip to IWF the International Woodworking Fair, August 25-28 in Atlanta. We’ll be there reporting, covering the new technologies we find, including those identified by the Challengers Awards, and sending live reports from the show floor.

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