By Karen Koenig

Nominations are being accepted for the 2007 Jerry Metz Achievement Award.

Named in memory of woodworking legend Jerry Metz, the award is founded on the four cornerstones that he preached: safety, training, quality and productivity.

Previous Metz Award winners are: Sam Stoltzfus, president of Keystone Wood Specialties; Bob Gronlund, chairman and CEO of Wood-Mode; Paul Wellborn, president of Wellborn Cabinets; and Joseph Cannon Jr., president of CAS.

Nominations for the 2007 award can be forwarded to Karen Koenig at (847) 634-4366.

They may not the biggest, but they are the best, and for the third consecutive year the 2007 class of WOOD 100 companies has achieved double-digit or higher growth rates between 2005 and 2006.

The WOOD 100 is a compendium of wood products companies which vary by product mix, age, size and location, yet are linked by their successful growth rates. It is the 18th straight year Wood & Wood Products has compiled this list of fast-growing secondary woodworking companies in North America.

Because the WOOD 100 companies span across varying market segments, employee sizes and revenues, the opinions expressed can be used as a gauge of the secondary woodworking industry.

Issues of the Day

Despite their varying demographic profiles, a common factor linking the WOOD 100 companies are the issues affecting them, most notably the economy, employee recruitment and retention, and healthcare.

A survey of the WOOD 100 executives found the economy ranks as the top concern overall, with 44 companies naming it their number one concern. Cutting waste, increasing productivity and reducing inventory and other cost-control methods are just some of the means these companies are using to offset the effect of an unpredictable economy. According to one southwestern architectural manufacturer, his company will “continue to implement lean manufacturing to reduce costs and improve service, and continue to build relationships that will see us through hard times.”

In addition to investments in technology, WOOD 100 executives say they also are spending money to retain and recruit good employees. Some of the examples cited by many executives included incentive programs and improved benefits packages, including healthcare. (For a complete listing of top concerns, see WOOD 100 Executives Talk Shop on p. 38.)

Trite as it may sound, good employees can make or break a company. In recognition of this fact, 17 percent of the executives surveyed attributed employee skills and dedication as the factor contributing most to their company’s success in the last three years. Other top vote-getters were: increased productivity (29 percent), customer service (23 percent) and new product development (13 percent).

WOOD 100 Facts

Due to a relatively strong economy, we had record numbers of entries for this year’s report. Not surprisingly, the largest number of qualifying companies came from the cabinet industry, which continues to be strong in both the new construction and remodeling segments. The second largest segment is manufacturers of architectural woodwork and millwork, followed by commercial casework and casegoods. Closets and home organization, which continues to be a growing niche market, is represented by 7 percent of the companies.

Other noteworthy facts about this year’s class:

• There are 37 states represented in the 2007 WOOD 100. California again tops the list of companies with nine entries, followed closely by Arizona with six and Texas with five. There are three Canadian companies on the list.

• This year marks the first inclusion for 41 companies. In contrast, veterans St. Louis Closet Co. and Boyce Highlands mark their 10th appearance, while Wisconsin Built and Sieling and Jones have appeared nine times. Top Drawer rounds out the list with eight appearances.

• When asked what factors contributed to their companies’ high growth rate, 23 percent of the executives cited increased productivity, followed closely by employee skills/dedication at 22 percent and customer service at 19 percent.

• Almost half of the WOOD 100 have plants with 20 or fewer employees. Of those, 20 recorded 2006 sales of more than $1 million.

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