We’re starting the new year with a new feature to encourage more professionalism in small woodshops, but even if you’ve been in busi- ness for years, you should take a look.
We’re calling the series “Path to Professionalism,” but it’s
really about business basics. It’s targeted at smaller shops, but
even bigger operations might pick up a tip or two. A surprising
number of people running woodworking businesses have little
or no formal business training. Many got into woodworking
more because they liked to make stuff than wanting to start
a business. But even successful owners rarely stop to think
how much more successful they could be if they worked at
the craft of business as much as they worked at the craft of
woodworking. What if there was a sudden downturn? Fact
is there are some woodworking businesses started or run by
non-woodworkers that do surprisingly well because they do a
better job of applying business principles to woodworking.
I’ll be writing most of the series myself, relying on what
I’ve learned from starting and running a number of businesses as well as visiting hundreds of woodworking operations
over the years. We want the information to be stuff you can
immediately use in your business and not off-putting like so
much of the business language
in formal textbooks. Business
isn’t rocket science, and it doesn’t
need to be taught that way.
Initially, the articles will appear quarterly here and online.
The first is about creating written
business plans (do you have one?)
and how they can help you. If
you have ideas for future topics or
people we should highlight, don’t
hesitate to contact me. ✚
Will tariffs force you to increase prices in 2019? Is there a way to benefit your business? Woodworking Network’s tariff survey, re- leased in December, indicated that of those
companies that did import, some 60 percent imported wood
products, 40 percent panel products, 60 percent hardware,
and about 25 percent equipment. Again, these are companies
that are importing.
Separately, in the course of our FDMC 300 research, we asked
companies that made cabinets, furniture, millwork and other
wood products if they imported materials used in their products.
This wasn’t a scientific survey, but most companies didn’t
import any wood or metal materials, or brought in a small
amount. (We’ll have the full FDMC 300 report next month in
the February FDMC issue.)
It is the uncertainty of possible large tariffs and retaliation
from other countries that are leading to market disruptions
that we’ve been seeing.
We also spoke to some U. S. makers of woodworking equipment, and here the effect of tariffs is larger. Many companies that
make machinery and other products out of steel and aluminum
wind up importing different sizes
and shapes of steel or aluminum alloys that aren’t available here.
But if you’re making cabinets
or furniture with high-quality domestic hardwoods or panels, the
tariff issue probably won’t affect
you too much.
In fact, you could use it as
a selling point to customers:
“We haven’t had to raise our
prices because we use high-quality
home-grown wood and panels in
our cabinets.” ✚
by William Sampson
by Karl D. Forth
Starting or staying
on the right foot
into a selling point
✚ Follow Will
Karl online at