In Search of Solutions

Executives of WOOD 100 firms list their top concerns and how they will deal with them.

Even the most successful woodworking executives, such as those in the WOOD 100, harbor some concern about the future. Wood & Wood Products asked each of them to rank the three biggest concerns that he thinks will have the greatest impact on the continued success of their companies in the next three years. Employee recruitment/retention came out on top, followed by the economy and employee skills.

The executives were also asked how they planned to address those concerns. Following are some of the solutions offered to combat these potential pitfalls.

Employee Recruitment/Retention
“We search for skilled, technically minded people, even from other industries.”?

“We started a day care center.”?

“We will sub out more component type items rather than produce them ourselves and we will use subcontractors to install some of our projects.”?

“Although we have a highly skilled workforce, we have been unsuccessful in adding employees. We continue to recruit at the high school level, while expanding our efforts to attract minority, female and physically handicapped candidates.”?

“We instituted a shift modeling program and scheduled two shifts with three-day, 12-hour shifts in addition to a 40-hour shift. The three-day workweek has been a valuable recruitment tool in a tight job market.”?

“We are using the Internet to try to recruit candidates from out of state.”?

“We have been constantly upgrading our pay rates in the last few years by giving productivity increases.”?

“We’ll diversify into other markets and products and work on controlling costs in order to maintain margins when production decreases.”?

“We’ll focus more resources on market development of value-added products and services.”?

“I’ll vote for and contribute to politicians who favor business issues and remain active in professional organizations.”?

“We plan to invest in value engineering and R&D.”?

“Decrease inventories and reduce lead times.”?

“We will try to develop as many good customers as we can when the economy is strong to build our base as wide as possible.”?

“Continue a conservative expansion plan so if the economy slows we will have no debt and will be able to stay competitive.”?

“Buying equipment that will allow us to be more competitive.”?

Employee Skills
“We have instituted our own apprenticeship program. We hire inexperienced personnel from Vo-Tech or trade schools that have basic woodworking knowledge.”?

“Training seminars, exposure to new equipment and methods, increased use of computers.”?

“Purchase new equipment to reduce reliance on lower skilled labor.”?

Lumber/Composite Panel Costs
“We have installed optimizing equipment to reduce our raw material requirements and we have imported lumber to compete with our competitors.”?

“Continue to shop around.”?

Other comments
“We have a very strong safety program which keeps our accident rate very low.”? (Workers’ Compensation Costs)

“Not talking about any design, just doing it, and getting it to market ahead of any competition.”? (Design Copying)

“We will constantly try to re-engineer our products to use other wood products.”? (Wood Quality/Availability)

“I do not have a problem with helping clean up the environment, even though the paperwork equated with maintaining compliance is at times overwhelming. However, I feel more pressure should be placed on the manufacturers that produce these finish materials. Perhaps these manufacturers should not be able to sell products that are out of compliance to begin with.”? (Finishing VOC Regulations)

“It is obscene and cost crippling the dollar amounts affiliated with health costs and Workman’s Compensation costs.”? (Health Benefits Costs)

“Nothing can be done about companies that either don’t understand their cost or fear running out of work.”? (Price Cutting by Competitors)

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