by William Sampson
email@example.com SMALL SHOPS
CMA Benchmark survey paints
picture of custom shops
Increasingly automated, they struggle with finding help even as business climate is good.
An annual survey of mostly custom woodworkers conducted by the Cabinet Makers Association and FDMC magazine shows small to medium size shops are thriving and continuing to embrace
automation. But they, like the rest of the industry, struggle
with hiring skilled workers.
This year’s survey attracted more than 200 respondents
in an online-only format. Almost all of those responding
described themselves as owners or senior officers in their
companies. They answered a battery of more than 40 questions, covering what their businesses make, how they make
it, how they sell it, and how they compensate themselves and
employees. The survey also covers business practices such as
outsourcing, seasonality, and the impact of automation.
Who are these shops?
Shop owners from across North America responded to the survey, but the majority of responses came from the Midwest ( 29. 5
percent), Northeast ( 20 percent), and Southeast ( 17. 5 percent)
regions of the United States. Nearly a third of them are operating in cities that have more than 1 million population, but
almost as many ( 30 percent) say they are in rural areas. Some
27 percent are operating in mid-size population centers.
Respondents to the survey are dominated by experienced shop
owners. More than 57 percent have been in business for more than
20 years. About 32 percent have been in business for 10 to 20 years,
and 6. 5 percent have been in business for five to 10 years. Only 5
percent say they have been in business for less than five years.
The biggest segment of shops in the survey ( 52 percent)
have two to 10 employees. Shops with 11 to 20 employees
make up a fifth ( 20 percent) of the respondents, but 9. 4
percent have 21 to 50 employees. One-person shops make up
10. 5 percent of the survey respondents.
Residential built-ins such as kitchen and bath cabinets domi-
nate the products listed by survey respondents. More than 84
percent do kitchen and bath cabinetry. About 80 percent do
other residential built-ins such as laundry rooms, mud rooms,
libraries, and home offices. About 53 percent build residential bars, wine cellars, and similar projects. Some 43 percent
report doing home theaters.
Nearly 40 percent of the respondents say they build free-
standing furniture. Nearly half said they do interior millwork.
But only 13 percent do refacing, refinishing or retrofitting
of existing cabinetry and millwork. More than 48 percent do
countertops, but just 6 percent do flooring. Only about 8 percent do historical restoration and refinishing. More than 13
percent do stairs and railings. Some 13. 7 percent do exterior
woodwork such as doors, windows, and gates.
On the commercial side, some 54 percent report doing commercial cabinetry and casework. Reception desks, reception areas and lobbies are the most popular products in that area, with
56 percent of shops listing those projects. About 33. 5 percent
report doing professional offices, office suites, and conference
$1 million: 32.80%
$1 million to
$5 million: 40.21%
$5 million to
$10 million: 3.70%
$10 million: 4.76%
What is your approximate
yearly business revenue?