Here we are at the third issue of our new combined magazine, and I’m please to say it is the biggest one yet. Thanks to tremendous reader and advertiser support, our new model has achieved dramatic success in the marketplace.

Looking ahead to 2010, this gives us even more confidence that we will be able to make this an even better vehicle to help people in the woodworking industry grow and prosper.

This experience reinforces my assertions that proactive approaches tend to work better. Daily I hear from a wide variety of people in the industry. They range from small shop owners to large plant officials to suppliers and distributors. Typically the ones who are moaning and groaning the most about the state of the economy have been the ones that took a wait-it-out strategy. They figured if they kept on doing what they always did for the most part and just hunkered down or scaled back some, they could wait out the down cycle and come back when the economy improved.

That might work for a garden variety minor dip in sales, but this downturn has gone far beyond that. We’ve seen the loss of two industry magazines, Wood Digest and Modern Woodworking, and a countless number of small shops and even a few large manufacturers. Many others have downsized dramatically, dropped products or whole lines of products.

But a lot of that still seems like a bunker mentality. What about people reinventing themselves and fighting back? I know a number of those stories, too. Like the small shop owner who realized his usual backlog of jobs was quickly disappearing. He knew the old word-of-mouth sales effort was not going to fill the pipeline like it used to. But instead of cutting back, he got aggressive in renewing old contacts and seeking out new ones. He looked out for new product lines to attract new customers. The result was business growth in the face of competitors’ contractions.

Of course, any efforts like this represent real risks, just as we took a real risk in monkeying with the two historically strong brands of FDM and CabinetMaker. But we did our research and started planning the move very early in the downturn. Just as the shop owner reacted to early signs of a change in the marketplace, so did we. And by acting on our research, our instincts, and our industry experience, we felt the risk was worth the effort. It was certainly better than doing nothing.

In fact, the simple act of taking action puts you in control of your destiny. A boat’s captain may not know if his vessel can weather a huge storm, but by turning into a wave to take it head on, he presents his best opportunity of success and stays in control. Woodworking business owners who truly steer their ships in this storm have the best chance of reaching the calmer waters on the other side.

It’s not a matter of riding out the storm so much as powering through it.

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