With a changing economy, custom woodworkers are taking fresh and innovative approaches to stay ahead in business.
Two woodworking business managers - Adam Rogers of Thomas Moser Contract Furniture, and Jared Patchin of J. Alexander Fine Woodworking - shared their experiences of the changing market during a July 30 webcast on how woodworking inventors grow their business.
Woodworking Network’s Bill Esler, who moderated, said there are numerous indicators of woodworking companies adapting to changing needs, including a company that converted old library vaults into movable office cubicles, or a company that offers custom doors to match the catalog of cabinetry sold by IKEA. Esler said you can find a dozens of woodworking companies reating products and seeking funding for projects on websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
|Watch the free webcast on Woodworking Inventors|
Thomas Moser, based in Maine, produces more than 6,000 furniture pieces each year at its factory. A vertically integrated company, Thomas Moser handles manufacturing from the lumber mill to the showroom floor and manufacturers replicas of noted historical furniture styles, Rogers said.
Patchin, who got his start in woodworking at his father’s custom shutter business in Boise, took an aggressive approach to opening new markets when the economic downturn of 2008 stymied much growth. He said the family business lost about 60 percent of its sales during that downturn. Rather than accept the loss of income, Patchin said he got creative and adapted to the market with the launch of his company, J. Alexander Fine Woodworking, as a means to find sales in that tough market.
Without a lot of funding for a multi-layered marketing campaign, Patchin said he focused on quality and service over anything else. Patchin said he generated business by not only providing quality goods, but by taking as many jobs as possible and being flexible to his customers’ wants. Once he found a strong foothold in the market, Patchin said he could afford to be pickier when it came to choosing jobs.
In addition to discussing innovation in growing business, the two woodworkers took time to address audience questions about modern woodworking techniques and whether or not heirloom furniture is still appealing to the marketplace.
Rogers said Thomas Moser employs both traditional and modern techniques when it comes to the manufacture of wood furniture pieces. He said the company has about 60 people hand-fitting and assembling the furniture pieces, but does use CNC technology when it is necessary.
“We employ a mix of high and low technology,” he said.
|Register for the Woodworking Inventors Symposium, August 19, 2014, Atlanta|
On the other hand Patchin said he does not yet employ CNC technology at J. Alexander. He said he’s researching the right tool for his business, but has not made the purchase yet due to the high cost of the machine. He said he plans to write a blog on Woodworking Network to detail the journey of his purchase so other small companies can learn from his decision.
In answering a question from an online listener, Rogers said he believes there is still a strong market for quality heirloom furniture.
“Quality being the operative word… We talk about designing and manufacturing pieces of permanence,” he said.
The speakers are among six presenters who will be at a symposium, Woodworking Inventors, on Tuesday, Aug. 19, one day prior to the 2014 International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta.
Woodworking Network will sponsor a symposium: Woodworking Inventors, offering attendees insights into entrepreneurial endeavors of woodworkers who have created new products as well as markets. The participants in the symposium will share ways they are inventing original product lines, or new takes on traditional offerings, devising novel ways to produce and position wood products in the market. The participants will discuss:
- Product development – idea to reproducible offering
- Production – how design adjusts for manufacture
- Marketing strategy – sales, distribution, and communications
- Impact on operations
- Real world results – what happened, and how has it impacted their businesses
The symposium will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Both Rogers and Patchin will present at the symposium. Registration information for the Woodworking Inventor's Symposium IWF can be found here.
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