America’s woodworking industry is indeed seeing a resurgence in business. Each week we hear of more manufacturers that are expanding, such as Ashley Furniture or KI, or those like Selected Furniture that are bringing business back to North America from overseas ­— all news since late April.

And the list goes on. In the June issue of Wood & Wood Products, Associate Publisher Bill Esler discusses not only the reasons behind this growing trend, but also the increased value being placed on domestically produced products. “Made in America gained popularity as mainstream media recognized the critical part played by U.S. manufacturers in restoring the U.S. economy to financial health,” he said in a recent blog posted on WoodworkingNetwork.com.

Doing their part to spur the economy, wood products companies continue to find innovative ways to remain competitive — and make a profit. Featured in the June issue of Wood & Wood Products, Northland Forest Products Inc., a manufacturer of lineal mouldings and hardwood dimension, invested more than $1.4 million in technology in just the past 30 months to increase productivity and grow market share. These and other efforts by the Shakopee, MN-based company, founded in 1979 by Dick and Shari Pyle, have helped Northland Forest Products grow during the economic downturn — without laying off any full-time employees.

Another successful strategy is that of Holly Springs, NC-based OFM, Inc., a supplier of office and educational furniture. Founded in 1995 by Abel and Barbara Zalcberg, OFM has had 17 years of continuous growth contracting with OEMs in Taiwan, China, Mexico — and just recently OEMs in North Carolina. What also distinguishes OFM is that it is completely carbon neutral. The company installed a 1,042 solar panel farm on its roof in 2010, and is in the process of adding a second one, to be completed later this year. Energy from the solar farm is sold to Progress Energy, a Raleigh-based power company.

Although diverse in nature, what these two businesses have in common is their commitment to growing the U.S. economy by providing quality product to American consumers. Another commonality is their commitment to improving the workplace environment, and in turn enhancing the lives of their employees. For example, Northland Forest Products President Dick Pyle not only provides lunch for his staff every Friday, but cooks it himself. “I’ve done this for about 20 years,” he said. “Our people are the strength of Northland — they’re what win the [business] for us.” Employees also are given numerous opportunities to grow their knowledge of the company, and of the industry.

OFM has put a name to its employee empowerment: OFM University. Available to all employees, OFM University offers classes and lectures on cross-training opportunities, business operations and other topics of interest: product sourcing, retirement planning, photography/graphics, etc. According to CEO Blake Zalcberg, OFM University is part of the company’s Ownership Thinking initiative, developed to build employee morale and encourage them to be active participants in the company’s success.

Detail Your Improvement Strategy in the WOOD 100

Building a Better Wood Products BusinessThe above are just two examples of what wood products companies are doing to succeed. Share your strategy: Entries are being accepted until July 2 for the WOOD 100: Strategies of Success. Click on the WOOD 100 button at WoodworkingNetwork.com, or go directly to the WOOD 100 form.

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