Obtaining and retaining good employees is a key component in any successful business strategy. Also key are strategies for controlling material and labor costs, growing market share and product diversity.

A Cut Above LLC, Jessup, MD
Specializing in the design, fabrication, finishing and installation of libraries, bookcases, media cabinetry and more, the custom woodworking firm’s sales grew 43.9% last year. Like many companies, employees have been key assets to the success of A Cut Above’s business.

To help retain its good employees, Owner Charles (Chip) Yawney says A Cut Above has already, or is in the process of implementing a series of employee benefits including: a profit sharing bonus, a company-subsidized health insurance plan, paid vacations, plus a company-matched IRA. An emphasis also is put on training employees in new aspects of production, such as the usage of Cabinet Vision/Planit software for manufacturing and design.

Investing in new technology and materials to optimize productivity and profitability is of importance to the company, Yawney says. Recent purchases include an SCMI 37-inch widebelt sander and a Kreg pocket hole machine. The company says it can manufacture from more than 100 species of domestic or exotic hardwoods, or veneers, and offers a variety of finishing options, including stain, paint, glaze, distress, or antiquing. “We have also started offering dye stains in addition to wipe-on stain solutions,” Yawney adds.

Growth strategies also have focused on attracting new customers through the web and social media. In July the company rolled out a revamped website with rich SEO content and keywords at ACutAboveWoodworks.com. It also implemented a companion website and blog at ACutAboveWoodworks.wordpress.com.

The company says it is “passionate” about its woodworking projects, and A Cut Above’s strategies in reaching out to customers, improving quality and productivity all combine to help the business grow. Yawney adds, “Pleasing our clients and exceeding their expectations is what is important to us.”

California Woodworking Inc., Oxnard, CA
The commercial cabinetry and countertop firm has seen its sales grow through a combination of lean manufacturing and a broadening of product offerings. “By studying each individual department at California Woodworking, we have been able to adjust our entire pricing structure and identify which departments need restructuring so that our company remains competitive and so that our company remains profitable,” says Luke Vickery, vice president.

In addition, he adds, “We broadened our product range so that various materials, including solid surface countertops, could be offered to our customers using the current equipment housed in our 16,000-square-foot facility.”

The Maui Closet Co., Kahului, Maui, HI
Diversification has helped this organizational products manufacturer — serving the closet, wall bed, garage, office, home and commercial markets — grow its sales 12.2% in 2011. President Debra Finkiewicz also notes that while increased marketing and customer contact has had an impact on the company’s profit margins, “We [also] have cut cost by keeping track of pricing and material, and working with suppliers for pricing of alternatives.”

In business since 1993, The Maui Closet Co. is no stranger to success. The company is a past participant of the WOOD 100, and also a multiple nominee of the Mayor’s Small Business Awards.

More Master Planners

Saunders Brothers, Greenwood, ME
The wood turnings & components firm accomplished a complete turnaround and grew sales a whopping 350.0% by “hedging and strategizing towards the positive aspects of a down economy,” says Owner Louise Jonaitis.

C.C.I. Inc. Sheboygan, WI
President Brian Free says the cabinet and countertop firm was able to “hold the line” on purchases while growing sales 29.4%. “We plan to continue to keep our overhead and long-term debt to an absolute minimum in an effort to be profitable on slimmer margins during this economic time,” he says. “ We also plan to continue to diversify within our capabilities and expand our geographical coverage.”

ASM Inc./Precision Woodcrafters, Decatur, IN
Providing a quality product at reduced price margins, with abilities for laser engraving, silk screening and imprinting, helped set this gift box and awards company apart from competitors, says Richard Steury, president.

Display Solutions of Topeka, Topeka, KS
Obtaining and retaining good employees is key for this security displays firm, which had 2011 sales growth of 24.9%. “We have began working with the local vo-tech to teach more of the skills we are looking for in new associates. In return we offer their students an opportunity to do [on the job training] at our facility,” says Scott Johnson, GM/president. The company plans to hire at least two students each year, he adds.

Lakeside Cabinets & Woodworking, Nowthen, MN
Troy Bednarz says the cabinetry firm instituted a variety of cost controls, including price shopping “so we can pass the savings along to clients.”

A Perfect Closet & Cabinets Inc., Deland, FL
CEO Leonard Morreale attributes the firm’s 12.1% growth in 2011 to factors including the availability of hard-to-get items. A new Weinig moulder also improves productivity for the firm, which offers its millwork capabilities to other area woodworkers.

Inotec Industries Inc., Farnham, QUE
Offering an integrated product line helped grow the office furniture maker’s sales 33.3% in 2011, says Jennifer Vincent, sales & marketing director. Inotec also maximizes production with new equipment and worker training. In addition to a tuition reimbursement program, Inotec plans to bring teachers to the shop floor for training, “see outside the box and problem solve effectively,” she adds.

Mill Tech LLC, Columbus, OH
GM Kevin Henderson attributes the architectural woodwork firm’s whopping 117.9% sales growth to its cost controls, plus “watching my nickels and dimes.”

Ellis USA, Orange, OH
For this bamboo and hardwood flooring maker, success comes from reduced overhead combined with increased marketing efforts, including more direct customer contact, says President/CEO Seymour Ellis.

McClung Lumber Co. Inc., Salem, VA
President Andrew Stratton says the architectural woodwork firm’s focus on “tighter cost control” and market flexibility helped attribute to its success.

Tradition Wood Works Inc., Scottsville, NY
A strategy to control costs and increase market share is helping the custom cabinet and millwork firm to grow sales, says Geoff Woerner, project manager/designer.

Unique Millwork, Toronto, ON
An expanded customer base helped the cabinet firm to increase its volume of work while holding prices, says Paul Pierobon, project manager.

High Country Cabinets, Banner Elk, NC
President John Page says an emphasis on efficiency helped spur the cabinet firm’s 41.1% growth. Helping improve productivity was a new edgebander.

Cornerstone Cabinet & Remodel Inc., Batavia, IL
“Buying correctly, plus closely monitoring the time per project,” while maintaining strict quality, helped grow sales 15.4% in 2011, says President Terry McCarter.

Delwin Sales Group Inc., Mississauga, ON
“Keeping our costs as low as possible by negotiating special pricing with suppliers and working leaner” are strategies used by the cabinet door and moulding firm, says Anne Wildman, sales & marketing manager.

Orange Woodworks Inc., Orange, CA
Office Manager Amanda Marchant says the cabinet and countertop maker has “put systems in place to cut job costs and run as efficiently as possible.”

The Moulding Source, Mooresville, NC
“We don’t do the work if we can’t get a fair price,” says President Rick DiNardo of the moulding & flooring firm’s strategy. “We don’t apologize for making a profit. I think that’s one of the main reasons we’re still in business.

G. Graham Wilson & Assoc., Cincinnati, OH
Owner Gary Wilson credits cost control along with “taking on as much work as possible,” for the cabinet and architectural company’s growth.

Village Handcrafted Cabinetry, Lansdale, PA
Trimming costs helped the cabinet and millwork firm grow sales 3.5% in 2011. “We also made investments in good, talented people,” says Gina Trave, marketing director. “They were key in making our production more efficient.”

Jordon’s Cabinets, Longwood, FL
President Stephen Smith attributes the cabinet and casegoods firm’s 47.4% sales growth to “Adjusting our product/service offerings to what clients want and will pay for.” Other measures include employee performance rewards, changing its primary door supplier and moving to a more efficient location.

Architectural Millworks, Duson, LA
Owner Paul Fontenot says the custom millwork company regularly addresses concerns such as imports, regulations and of course the economy, to stay ahead of the competition. New technology, including glue clamps and automated saw fences, also help with productivity.

Quality Custom Cabinet Design Inc., Leesburg, FL
Having a good reputation helps keep business coming back, says President Mark Daigneau.

Javco Inc., New Haven, CT
Owner/President Steven Verinis cites creating “more value-added demand for service” for helping the furniture provider improve business.

The Oregon Connection, Coos Bay, OR
Manager Stacy Gavette cites skilled employees for the myrtle wood custom woodworking shop’s success.

Links to 2012 WOOD 100: Strategies for Success stories

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Marketing Initiatives

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Productivity Enhancements

Technology Integration

Product Innovations

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