ATLANTA – A rapt audience of woodworkers listened intently – and questioned at length - as a panel of their peers revealed their approaches to developing new products and business opportunities. The full-day session, “Woodworking Inventors,” was one of several Tuesday symposia that heralded the start of the International Woodworking Fair (IWF).
The largest woodworking show in North America, IWF takes place Aug. 20-23, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, GA.
Presented by Woodworking Network and sponsored by Timber Products, Woodworking Inventors: Creating New Products and Business Approaches looked at how a group of custom woodworkers not only developed and produced new products, but also how they were able to successfully market to new and existing audiences. Speakers for the session were: Adam Rogers, director of design for Thos. Moser Contract Furniture; Jared Patchin, owner of J. Alexander Fine Furniture; Corbin Clay, owner of Azure Furniture; Peter Mai, president of Olde School Cabinet; and Jonah Coleman, owner of Fletcher Wood Products.
The person behind Thos. Moser’s award-winning contract furniture line, Element, Rogers discussed the overall product development process, and the thinking behind the company’s strategy of collaborating with outside designers as one path of product development.
Among the custom creations by Patchin, also a Woodworking Network bloggist is his best-selling Apple-inspired desk. Patchin, who spun off his business using his larger family-owned wood products production company as an incubator, described how being flexible and adapting to a changing marketplace led to the profitable and growing start-up of J. Alexander Fine Woodworking, and how he used his web site to drive sales.
Creating a new market for a “dying” wood species, Clay helped reposition blue-tinged beetle kill pine as a desirable wood for furniture and cabinetry. Clay explained how he maximized existing, lower-cost equipment into an intelligent production system. He also used social media to market the products, positioning himself along the way as an industry personality.
Another woodworking inventor, Mai described the process behind the KornerKing Lazy Susan, a product he developed after building over 500 customs kitchens.. Mai also discussed the web efforts in marketing the KornerKing, including search engine optimization for online promotion.
Attendees also heard as Coleman discussed how his cabinet company reinvented its project management and manufacturing workflow, including building its own Enterprise Manager software, and getting information that had been locked in people’s heads.
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