W&WP September 2004

Introduction | WOOD 100 Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
Ex Cop Runs Top Shop | Even WOOD 100 Execs Have Worries

The 2004 WOOD 100:
Forging Ahead

After suffering the slings and arrows of 9/11 and an economic recession, WOOD 100 companies rebounded in 2003 and far more often than not see better things to come for the rest of this year and next.

By Laurel Jorgensen & Rich Cristianson

Times are good for companies that rank among Wood & Wood Products' 15th Annual WOOD 100.

As a group, the 93 U.S. and seven Canadian companies experienced an average increase of 16.8% from 2002 to 2003. The median growth is slightly higher - 18.5% - if MasterBrand Cabinets Inc. (No. 67) is removed from the calculation. MasterBrand, parent of Aristokraft, Omega, Diamond and other popular cabinet brands, reported sales of $1.5 billion in 2003, more than the other 99 WOOD 100 companies combined. The second biggest company, Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. (No. 99), posted sales of $165,000 million in 2003.

Fully 85 of the WOOD 100 companies posted double-digit increases last year, including 47 that reported 2002 to 2003 sales gains of 25% or better. This year's WOOD 100 pack is led by North Forty Fine Furniture of Regina, SK. The six-year-old manufacturer of custom furniture, cabinets and other wood products saw its sales increase to $641,000 (Can.) in 2003, up 93.7% over 2002. North Forty edged out D.R. Nickelson & Co. by 0.5% to become the first Canadian company to hold the top spot in the WOOD 100.

Twenty-eight of the WOOD 100 respondents point to customer service as the major reason for their company's success. Increased productivity, 22%, and the dedication of a skilled workforce, 21%, are the second and third most cited success factors, respectively.

This year is also shaping up as a banner year for the vast majority of the WOOD 100 companies. Representatives for 92 of the WOOD 100 companies say they expect to generate more revenue in 2004 than in 2003; 68 say they expect their firms to post sales increases of greater than 10%. Lopresti Millwork (No. 29) and Drawer Box Associates (No. 4) have to be considered early favorites for next year's WOOD 100 crown, based on predictions of 2004 sales growth of 300% and 265%, respectively.

Perhaps even more encouraging is that 47% of WOOD 100 company representatives expect 2005 to be an "Excellent" year for their businesses; an additional 45% of them expect 2005 to be "Good."

Money Matters
While rising costs of materials and health-care benefits have hit virtually every woodworking business, 55 of the WOOD 100 company representatives say they managed to increase their profit margins compared to three years ago. Conversely, 17 say their profit margins have shrunk during that same time span.

That said, profit margins rank as the third top concern for WOOD 100 executives. Thirty-two of WOOD 100 representatives cite profit margins as one of the three concerns from a list of 13 topics, including 12 who say it is their top concern. Closely related, 28 of the WOOD executives say they worry about the impact of price cutting on their business. (See story)

More WOOD 100 Facts
* Forty-four of the WOOD 100 firms were also featured in last year's report.
* Twenty-five of the companies are making at least their fifth appearance in the WOOD 100.
* Wooden Mallet (No. 90) is making its 12th straight appearance; Lexington Mfg. (No. 81) is also making its 12th appearance.
* Appalachian Wood Products (No. 100) and WW Wood Products (No. 48) are each 11-time veterans of the WOOD 100, including the last 10 reports.
* Fleetwood Fixtures (No. 20) and Oak Craft (No. 55) are each appearing in the WOOD 100 for the 10th time.
* Forty-six of the companies are custom shops, 36 are production shops and 18 run semi-custom operations.
* Nine of the companies hail from California, followed by seven each from Texas and Wisconsin, and six each from Florida, Illinois, Minnesota and Pennsylvania.

                                                                                                                                                                                           

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