The January issue of Custom Woodworking Business magazine marks the beginning of the publication’s 20th year. Having been integrally involved from the start, my first thought is about how quickly those years have passed. If it weren’t for looking back at my editorial photo from the first issue and realizing how many different hair styles I’ve had since then – and how many wrinkles have been added – it wouldn’t seem possible.

To recognize this anniversary, the issue features a look back at some of the companies that were profiled in the very first issue. We did the same thing 10 years ago. At that time, out of 10 firms that were featured as custom woodworking “success stories” in the debut, we were able to contact all of them and nine were still in business. The tenth, a one-man operation, had closed after flood damaged the shop and the owner decided to enter a new profession.

There had been some changes in those 10 years; some buy-outs, new owners, relocations, changes in focus. But most of the original woodworkers involved were still there. Not so after 20 years. There are only two companies that are still going strong. Most of the remaining companies are gone. Nevertheless, it was interesting to make the attempt and see if there were survivors.

It does give one pause, though, to wonder about the lifespan of a custom woodwork company. Twenty years is pretty much one generation of ownership, and a lot changes in people’s lives and the world in that amount of time. If you are the owner of a custom woodworking business today, you might take a moment to think ahead 20 years and try to guess where your company will be. And if you really want to challenge yourself, you might think about where you want it to be in 20 years and try to figure out whether or not you are on track to get there.

But with or without a crystal ball at our fingertips, I say let’s toast to a good 20 years that have flown by. Happy birthday, CWB!

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