August 22 - 25, 2018

Georgia World Congress Center | Atlanta, GA| USA

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Effective Email for Small Businesses

by Editor 6. August 2018 07:55

By: Ralph Bagnall,Woodworking Consultant, Author and TV Host: ConsultingWoodworker.com

Today’s audience is bombarded with messaging, and email is no exception. It’s easy to fall into the trap of promoting your products and services and telling everyone just how wonderful you are without providing any value relevant to your subscribers. All the little things you bring to the table beyond your basic business offerings are what keep your audience engaged and coming back for more.

We all know about the 80/20 rule. I like to apply it to email marketing content too. I believe you should give away 80% of your knowledge base and save 20% for your best customers.  Wait, what? Give away some of my best information? Don’t be afraid of giving your audience insight that will help them solve some of their biggest headaches.

The people on your email lists subscribed because they were looking to learn about your areas of expertise or solve a problem that is right up your alley. When you give them the knowledge they seek, your audience learns to trust you as an expert, a thought-leader in the field; doing it consistently keeps you top of mind. Will this convert them all to customers? Unlikely, but many already need your help and will know to turn to you because you’ve earned their trust. And do-it-yourselfers will love your content, share it, and just might become your biggest ambassadors!

Learn more about this during Ralph's session "Effective Email for Small Businesses" at the IWF 2018 Education Conference.

 

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Opportunities after the new “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act”

by Editor 6. August 2018 07:28

Opportunities after the new “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act”

The “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” which was passed by Congress in December, 2017, made significant changes to individual, business and estate taxes, and became effective as of January 1, 2018.  While the business related provisions are considered permanent, the individual and estate tax provisions only remain in effect until December 31, 2025, when they are subject to a “sunset” and will revert back to 2017 law.

Here are a few of the major changes that could impact you and your business in the coming year:

Individual Taxes

  • There are still seven tax brackets, but the rates have changed to 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and 37%.
  • The standard deduction increased to $12,000 for Single taxpayers, $18,000 for Head of Household and $24,000 for Married Filing Jointly.
  • Personal exemptions are eliminated.
  • Itemized deductions for state and local taxes and mortgage interest are limited; the deduction for miscellaneous itemized deductions (subject to the 2% of AGI) is eliminated.
  • Taxpayers who receive pass-through business income from sole proprietorships, partnerships, S corps and LLCs electing to be taxed as a partnership or S corp may receive a 20% deduction, which essentially reduces the top marginal rate to 29.6%. Owners of certain types of pass-through service businesses are subject to income limitations and may not be eligible for the deduction.

Estate Taxes

  • The estate and gift tax exclusion amount is increased from $5 million to $10 million per person. Indexed for inflation, this amount is $11.2 million per person in 2018 ($22.4 million per married couple).
  • The annual gift tax exclusion increased from $14,000 to $15,000.

Business Taxes

  • The corporate tax rate is reduced to a flat 21%.
  • The corporate Alternative Minimum tax (AMT) is repealed.
  • The amount that can be expensed in the current year under Code §179 (rather than depreciated over time) increased to $1 million.
  • Deductions for business-related entertainment expenses and employee transportation fringe benefits are eliminated.

These changes bring a wide range of both questions and opportunities for business owners.  “Is my business is better off being a pass through entity (like an S corp or LLC) or a C corp?”  “Do the potential tax savings to my business this year support an increase in wages for my employees?”  “Are there increased opportunities for implementing employee retention strategies (like a Private Bonus or Split Dollar plan)?”  Talk to your attorney and/or CPA for information about how the Tax Act might impact you and your business based on your individual situation.

For more information, attend “Building a Valuable Business” during IWF.

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Think Light - Benefits and Opportunities of Lightweight Materials

by Editor 4. August 2018 11:21

Weight restrictions on products exist for a variety of reasons, such as for health reasons to allow customers lifting the product, or for safety reasons when a table top cannot be too heavy, or due to construction restrictions when a remodeling project in an existing building cannot add weight to the structure.  Lightweight materials also help reduce transportation costs as more products can be packed into the back of a truck without exceeding weight limits.  Indeed, today's lightweight materials offer good value as an environmentally friendly, strong, and versatile material that provides ergonomic benefits and offers a competitive advantage.

Experts from industry provide insights on lightweight materials, how they are made, how to work with them, what they can be used for, and what is particularly challenging.  M. Zimmerman from Sauder Woodworking Co. will talk about what the company is doing with lightweight materials, why they use lightweight materials, and how they see the material to evolve in their line of products.  Steven and Robert Boerrigter from Axxor North America, LLC, a producer of cores for lightweight panels will provide insights into the diverse uses of lightweight panels and how the core can be adapted to fit the required properties of a panel.  Jim Trainor from Jowat Corp. will explain adhesives used for lightweight materials while Mark Joel from Bürkle North America, Inc. will talk about equipment solutions for processing lightweight materials.  Connecting and fastening lightweight materials require special care and, often, special hardware.  Marcel Strobel, formerly with Adolf Wuerth GmbH & Co. KG and now with MKT Fastening will talk about connecting lightweight materials and show solutions for this challenge.  The session will conclude with Key Take Aways and a Q & A session.

Workshop attendees of the "Think Light - Benefit and Opportunities of Lightweight Materials" session will learn about lightweight panel materials, the different types of lightweight panels, how they can be processed, what can be made with them, and the benefits and challenges that exist with lightweight technology.

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Determining the best spray system

by Editor 4. August 2018 11:16

By: Diane Shattuck, Gemini Industries
 
With all the different spray systems available today, how do you determine which one best fits “YOUR” needs as a small shop?

Questions to ask

  • How much finishing do you do on average?
  • What type of parts will you be finishing?
  • Where will you be finishing (shop/field)?
  • What types of coatings will you be spraying?
  • What other equipment will you need to support your spray system?

Three essential components

Choosing a spray systems basically breaks down to three essential components: spray gun, cup or pot, and a power system. A

Spray gun

A tool that uses compressed air to atomize finishes and apply to a surface. The finish and air enter the gun through two separate passages and then mix together at the air cap (atomize) before landing on the targeted object.

Cup or pot

CUP OR POT
A container that holds the finish, ranging in sizes from as little as 4 oz. (used on touch up guns) to 10 gallons pressure pots. They can be connected to the gun directly or by a fluid hose from the container to the gun.

Power system

  • Turbine systems: self-contained system, portable and generates high volume of slow moving air only when in operation. Controlled and consistent air pressure determined by how many stages (fan blades & size) very limited in variances of pressures.
  • Compressed air: used as a source of power for many tools in your shop, has the ability to store energy on tap, available in all sizes, can produce high and low air pressures.

Register to attend “Transitioning to in-house finishing – profitably” during IWF to learn more considerations before you bring your finishing in-house.
 
 

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Know your numbers

by Editor 4. August 2018 11:13

As a business owner, you know it is important stay current with your financials.  However, there are a few key questions that are often overlooked.

  • Do you know much you have invested in your operation and charge every customer to recoup that investment? If you do not know what you have invested and you do not charge customers for the investment how do you get paid back your principal investment costs?
  • What do you pay yourself and how to you determine an appropriate amount?
  • What is the current replacement value if you had one month to get back on track, say in the event that your shop burned to the ground and you had to reinvent your brand? How much would it cost to replace everything you have?
  • How many billable hours per employee are there?

Learn how to calculate these numbers and more during “The Art of Pricing for Profitability” during IWF.

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Effective Estimating that leads to Bullet Proof Proposals - Part 5

by Editor 3. August 2018 08:36

By: Bobbo Buckley, Software Developer: Cabinotch Innovative Solutions

Effective Estimating that leads to Bullet Proof Proposals - BMG10

In earlier posts in this Effective Estimating series, we talked about two principles of Effective Estimating. One being Managing Customer Expectations and we briefly touched on another, that your Estimates and Proposals should SELL MORE JOBS, but we have not touched on the first of these three principles, and in my opinion, one of the cornerstone principles of Effective Estimating.

Accuracy

I alluded to this principle when I said that your Estimates and Proposals should be bi-lingual in an earlier post, that they needed to speak two languages, Cost and Selling Price. The objective of a good Estimating System is to ACCURATELY account for the labor, material, overhead and profit, then AUTOMAGICALLY translate those costs into a selling price.

In my Effective Estimating Seminar at IWF-2018, we will go through the 10 1/2 Attributes of Accuracy, but in this context, I just don't have the bandwidth to go that deep into this subject matter. The primary point being, that if we abide by these 10 1/2 Attributes of Accuracy, we will have what I like to call a “full figured” Estimate (now you know why I like to use the word sexy when speaking about Estimates and Proposals), which makes certain your client is comparing apples to apples, not apples to broccoli.

In all my years of being a cabinetmaker, and owning a custom cabinet manufacturing business, there have been two predominate estimating methods. The most popular (or at least it seems that way in the Southeast) is pricing cabinetry by the linear foot, the second being pricing cabinetry by the square footage of the face of the cabinetry. If I dig back deep enough into my pretty darn old memory banks, I even remember a formula where the cabinetmaker would add up all his material costs and multiply them by a factor (usually 3).

Pretty much every cabinetmaker figures out fairly quickly that linear footage and square footage estimating methods are not only not accurate (1 ten foot cabinet with 3 drawer fronts, 3 drawer boxes, 3 drawer guides, 6 doors and 12 hinges costs the exact same amount as 10 one foot cabinets that have 10 drawer fronts, 10 drawer boxes, 10 drawer guides, 10 doors and 20 hinges using either method), and that these methods provide no way to translate material costs to selling price. If your hinges go up by $0.30 a pair, how much do you adjust your per linear footage or square footage price? If your sheet-goods go up by $0.10 a square foot, how much do you adjust your per linear footage or square footage price?

I am aware that lots of cabinetmakers have started doing add-ons, so much per door, so much per drawer front, etc., but this still does not translate from cost to selling price very well. Another attribute of these systems is they simply are not very accurate from one finish type or option to another, and the vast majority of pricing systems I have heard quoted simply used a percentage markup from one finish type or option to another finish type or option. How can we accurately express the difference in the cost from a natural finish on hickory to a complex stained, glazed, antiqued, distressed level three with wear sanding on cherry using a simple percentage markup?

We will cover the process I recommend in depth during the Effective Estimating session at IWF-2018 in Atlanta, and I will illustrate how I quickly and easily create very accurate Estimates and Proposals, and do so very quickly.

 

 

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Tooling: a primer

by Editor 3. August 2018 08:33

By Leland Thomasset, Taghkanic Woodworking

As you get more comfortable with your nested-based CNC router, then you will want to take your tooling to the next level. There are two main types of tooling: solid carbide stock router bits and braze on and stock router bits. Allow to me explain the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Solid Carbide Stock Router Bits

Down Cut Router Bits

The geometry of these bits will give clean cuts to the top side of a piece of wood. Down cut bits are good for shallow pockets, and very thin, small parts will not move because of the downward pressure caused by this bit. They are not good for deep cuts as the material that is being cut gets pushed down into the tool path.
 

Up Cut Router Bits

The geometry of these bits allows for clean cuts on the bottom of a part. The tool will remove material from the tool path into the dust collection stream very easily. They work well when you have to take several passes to cut thru a thick piece of material, and they also work great for a deep mortise or pocket. However, they will pull the piece that you are cutting off the spoil board if it is too small or if you are taking too much stock out in one pass.
 

Compression Router Bits

The geometry of these bits are both up cut and down cut some bits have shorter up cut shapes to allow for shallow grooves or mortises. They are great for cutting composites and plywood with veneers on both sides, and they can come with staggered chip breakers which work well with solid materials. They cut very quickly with no tear out at all and are a great tool for nested-based panel cutting operations.
 

Ball Nose Router Bit

These are the bits that we use to cut 3-D parts, parts with compound contours, and curve molding profiles.
 

Braze On and Stock Router Bits

Brazed tooling, which you should be familiar with, is the tooling that used with hand routers to create counter edges, flush trimming bits for laminate and joinery bits for dovetails, box joints, etc.
 
Brazed bits require a lower rpm and feed rate, so if you have a one off item this can be a perfect affordable solution. If you are making many repeat items then it may be worth the money to invest in a custom insert tool.
 
You may find that your cut quality may vary due to tool balance, sharpness, and design of tool. Also, you run into the situation where you choose a profile, get the job all set up, and then you find out this is a discontinued profile.
 
To learn more about how tooling selection can impact your machining, register to attend “Boundary-pushing with your Nested-Based Router” during IWF.

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Woodworking is a fine hobby for people who are retiring….: The Stigma that is killing our talent

by Editor 2. August 2018 11:27

By: Luke Barnett, Charimaker: Sam Beauford Woodshop Career Woodworking Institite 

The title of this article may be throwing you off a bit. We are not hobbyists, who spend our weekends making knick knacks for our family members. We are craftsmen and craftswomen who produce products that are comfortable, durable, and beautiful. We use our skill to the highest degree, while producing items that add value at an affordable cost.

Unfortunately the title of this blog is how our industry is viewed by 99% of the population. This is unacceptable. It is hurting our brand and it ruining the next generation of skilled woodworkers. When you say the word woodworking to someone, you will most likely get a response of “My grandpa was a woodworker, he used to have a really nice shop in his basement.” While I encourage everyone to be involved with woodworking, I must stress that this is not the kind of woodworking that I am referring to. I am talking about the type of woodworking that can give somebody a sustainable living. The type of woodworking that can provide a family with a house, food, music lessons, doctors appointments. Etc….

Our industry needs to change the way people view woodworking or all our future talent will go to other trades and/or college. Because of the hobbyist stigma, parents do not want their kids to pursue a career in woodworking. Our trade is the most ancient, it is prestigious, and it is lucrative. We just need to convince the parents of the next Orville Merrilat before they steer that kid in a different direction…….

 

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Designing for the build

by Editor 2. August 2018 09:42

Now you’ve got that modern job, how do you ensure that the design considers all aspects of the project and also is able to be built as specified?
 
First of all your need to consider the materials required for the job.  It’s more than the cabinets; it includes the decorative hardware, countertop, sink and faucet, etc. Every aspect of the project needs to be determined at this time.  Knowing the requirements up front saves you time and frustration later on.
 
Then there’s the lighting aspect, which is a huge topic in and of itself.  The most important recommendation, though, is that you use a qualified electrician for many reasons, liability being one of them. Also, consider the color choices and how they may look in different types of lighting.  Some browns actually look red or pink under certain lighting.
 
As you design the layout of the kitchen, you also need to factor in the integration of appliances. This doesn’t refer to allowing for appropriate space for each appliance. Instead it is a total integration into the build.
 
Finally, there also needs to be considerable time spent considering all of the other aesthetics, to put it simply. Again, it’s important to recognize all of the project requirements and specifications before you begin the build, as they may impact the construction.
 
To learn more about the design process related to modern work, register to attend “Acing that modern job” during IWF.

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IWF 2018: Harnessing the Power of Social Media to Effectively Market Home and Building Products

by Editor 2. August 2018 09:38

By: Amanda Eden, Stoner Bunting Advertising

The home and building products industry is filled with innovative products and brands aimed at everyone from middle-class consumers in suburbia, to the influential and powerful movers and shakers of the architecture and design world. Some of these brands and products are about as niche as niche gets. And on top of that, marketers are tasked with executing social media strategies for companies and organizations that have extremely narrow and hard-to-reach audiences. What are the keys to making it all work?

Honestly, it takes a combination of experience, planning, strategy and education.

Below are some tips and tricks from two influential industry blogs that align with our social media development strategy and offer helpful hints for home and building product companies out there looking to break through the onslaught of social media noise out there.

Think Like a Whizard

The folks at Whizard Strategy, who just so happen to also be experts in the building material industry, offer some great tips for implementing a social media strategy. The Internet is a big empty space after all and can be extremely intimidating for companies with little-to-no existing presence.

However, with effective, educational content tailored to the right audience, this space begins to shrink. If you are just starting out on social media, or are looking for a change of pace, follow these 6 steps to success:

1 | Set Up a Blog

Anyone can set up and start a blog a little or no cost.  It’s an easy process and there are more options than ever. The secret to having a successful blog — meaning one that pops up in search results — is posting content to it on a regular basis and making sure that you link your website to every post.

2 | Create Business Social Media Accounts

Remember, this is your business account, which represents your brand and should always be separate from a personal account. Making sure business social media accounts are separate from private ones ensures inappropriate party photos — or worse — don’t get mixed up with the company.

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3 | People Like Doing Business with a Real Person

Put someone in charge of all social media. No, it doesn’t have to be their only job, but they will become the “face” of your company. When they do post it will show up as “Josh, from Stoner Bunting,” not a nameless digital representative named “Author.”

4 | Find the Right LinkedIn Groups for your Business and Join Them

For building material marketers, they can reach many of their channel customers through LinkedIn groups such as the Roofing Contractor or Kitchen Dealer or Architect groups. Individuals can join these groups while companies cannot.

5 | Establish the Process and Boundaries for your Social Media Program

You can take an active or passive approach to social media. With an active approach, the lead person is online frequently making comments and responding to others. With a passive approach everything you do is planned and has time for approvals, if required. An example of a passive approach is to post to your blog once a week. These posts can be written in advance and then posted.

Learning from Established Brands
While Whizard Strategy offers great tips for establishing a social media presence and creating specific social media campaigns for product launches, sometimes it is best to take inspiration from larger, more established brands with a strong digital presence.

Social Media Today published an article discussing how startups and new brands can learn and absorb from the expertise and social know-how of proven companies. The author provides four ways to emulate the successes of industry giants:

First, steadily scale your social media marketing efforts. New businesses are often eager to find the right tools for developing a successful marketing strategy. Fortunately, social media provides the opportunity to market broadly with minimal cost — but there are many different networks to choose from.

Take a look at how the established brands within your startup’s industry are growing on social and try to set that pace for your business. Too much, too soon can spam the social scene with unimportant posts or result in sudden lack of content. Quality is more important than quantity, so identify which platform is best to start with and grow from there at a pace that is comfortable for your own business.

Second, you should both recognize and use social media as a customer service tool, not just a dumping ground for photos. Providing customer service is an impactful way for startups to utilize social media. Customers expect instant replies, and monitoring and responding through your social accounts is a great way to meet that demand and help turn customers into brand advocates.

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Larger brands do well with this, as they usually form teams responsible for responding to social inquiries. Just because your startup is smaller, it doesn’t mean you can’t have this type of dedicated team or team member ready and waiting to reply. However, since two-way conversations on social networks are critical customer service gateways, whoever is charged with responding must remain committed to the task.

Third, it’s also important to select the right social media platforms for your business. Not every company needs a Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ account. For example, visual social networks like Instagram and Pinterest are particularly effective for the fashion industry, whereas the technology community often gravitates toward Twitter for brand-building.

Established brands already have a clear overview of which platforms are most effective in getting their content and message across. Look to others (even fellow startups) in your industry and identify which platforms are most relevant for promoting what your business has to offer. This will help to define your startup’s social media presence more strategically and achieve your overall goal of brand awareness.

Fourth, maximize social media as a recruitment tool. The entrepreneurial startup spirit is increasingly more attractive these days to both recent graduates and established professionals. Social media is the perfect way to tap into the pool of available talent, but it can be a challenge to promote job vacancies on Twitter or Facebook, successfully. Take a look at larger brands’ recruitment posts to see how they are reaching out for job openings. Is one platform more successful than another? Big companies have mastered the art of identifying top talent and knowing who to bring into the company.

Want to Know More?

Learn how to harness the power of social media for marketing home and building product brands by attending the Closets Symposium at IWF Atlanta, Tuesday, August 21.

Stoner Bunting has been building relationships in the home and building products industry since 1984. Our insights into what excites audiences at every stage of the design and construction process – and our access to the people and publications that influence them – make your marketing smarter, so it works harder.

 

 

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