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The 5 Levels of Active Recruitment of Woodworkers - Part 1

11. July 2019 12:44

Luke Barnett: Chairmaker: Sam Beauford Woodshop Career Woodworking Institute

Luke-Barnett"Just like growing a garden…. cultivating the future talent pool of skilled workers takes effort. It takes time, talent, and money. You will reap what you sow. Your results are directly proportional to the effort that is put in.

This article will be broken into 2 parts. This is part one. Make sure you check back for part 2.    Level 1 is where most of the industry currently is positioned. At this level of employment, vacancies are filled by traditional methods. An employer will recognize that they need to fill a position when an employee decides to quit or retire.

On my personal “task management board”, I would put this in the AMBUSH category. Ambush means that my task is time-sensitive and I need to devote resources that I did not plan on devoting to accomplishing the time-sensitive task. Ambush tasks are usually completed in a state of panic, which causes me to make less than optimal decisions. Ambush mode is not where you want to be while hiring. This causes you to take what you can get rather than picking and choosing the right talent for the job. Level 1 recruiting has a domino of side effects such as, high turnover of employees, causing increased resources spent on training, which causes lower wages due to not having the most effective staff, which causes an overall negative culture among the employees.  If any business is at this level, I would strongly encourage them to make the move to level 2.

Level 2 is where some of you may be. Level 2 is where active recruitment starts. At this minimal level, you have awareness of your local skilled trades program. You have made a phone call to the instructor and opened a dialogue with him or her. You occasionally make an inquiry to whether they have any candidates to work for your business.  You may get a student here and there, but it hasn’t been a really good resource for your business so far. Does this sound familiar???? Level 2 takes minimal effort, all you do is make a phone call and they send a potential candidate. I am going to give you the hard truth about level 2 from an educators perspective. I couldn’t care less about level 2. Your occasional phone call is 1 of 100 per month that we receive from recruiters looking for a quick hire. Level 2 is a low priority for us. We will send you students but out best and brightest are reserved for higher levels of participants.

Level 3 is the level when you have bought into the recruitment plan and you want to contribute. You do not have the time to dedicate but you still want to contribute so you write a check or make some in-kind donations of materials or something.

On a side note…….. Do not call a CTE woodworking school and say that you have some scrap wood that you are willing to donate. We know this game………. You are trying to get rid of your scrap and hoping to off it on someone that can use it. A similar scenario that you may be familiar with, is when a person calls your company to tell you that they have a tree in their yard and you can have it if you are willing to cut it down and haul it off. The point is….. We do not want your scrap wood.

Back to level 3. Let me tell you….. we LOVE getting checks. On this level, you will have worked out the beginnings of a formal partnership with an educational institution. Your contributions earn you some level of priority when it comes to the quality of students. This level is where you will start to see returns. Every woodworking business in North America should be at this level. This level strengthens educational programs by providing them with much-needed resources, which help us provide better quality education.

Levels 4-5 will be discussed in the next Blog. Stay Tuned…..

Hardwood Edging - Part 4

25. June 2019 10:48

By: Scott Grove, Furniture Design: ScottGrove.com

Adding curves to any project substantially increases complexity; applying curved inlay compounds the process. Scott Grove has been teaching these techniques for over ten years, perfecting every step and nuance along the way. He then spent three additional years writing a book Hardwood Edging and Inlay for Curved Tables publish by Schiffer Publishing and has refined this process to a fine and simple art.

During this time, he also developed The Ultimate Router Base System available at ImagineWoodworking.com that gives you more control and increases safety and stability on any handheld routing operation.

Scott will demonstrate how to use this system that helps you produce accurate, perfectly-matched curved joinery, large inlays, and dead-centered inlays over a seam easily and every time. It’s perfect for any professional or hobbyist woodworker who wants to add new dimensions to their creations simply and safely.

With this one router base system, complex shapes, circles, curves, and inlays can be quickly and accurately made, saving you time and money. It is the only offset router base that accepts a standard 1-3/16” PC template guide and includes the only extra-large template guide bushing set that allows you to offset a ½” router bit to either side of the cutting seam.

The design adds surface area to your router base for greater stability, safer operation and more controlled cutting. Its high machining tolerance avoids slop or wiggle that is sometimes found between a router base and standard template guides, too.

Learn more about this topic by viewing the "Curved Joinery, Edges and Inlays" session from IWF 2018 that is available in the IWF Education Portal.


Keep Your Cool

12. August 2018 17:58

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

There are many factors that need to be accounted for when cutting or milling plastics, but your over-arching concern should always be keeping things cool. With wood products, heat is an issue, but is secondary to vibration. With plastics it is the other way around; vibrations need to be controlled, but heat build-up is really the major concern. Too much heat begins to melt the plastic rather than cutting it, and this not only produces a poor edge, but the softened material can actually cool back in the kerf and weld itself together.
The heat we are concerned with is from friction. Every tooth cutting into the plastic generates heat, so generally, fewer teeth is better. Good gullet distance between teeth gives some chance for cooling between impacts. The diameter of a 10” saw blade generally lets the teeth cool between cuts, but if there are too many teeth, heat will build up along the cut line of the material.
With softer plastics like polycarbonates or nylons, a bandsaw blade removes heat from the cut line well but, again, large gullets and a healthy set to the teeth are recommended. Reciprocating blades like those on a jigsaw should not be used; the blade generates even more heat on the return as on the cutting stroke and allows no time for cooling. When cutting plastics, watch for galling around the kerf line, little bits of melted material clinging to the edges means the friction is excessive.


Natural Woodgrains Reign

12. August 2018 17:49

By: Michele Weitzel, Northern Contours

Spotted widely at the 2018 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) and NeoCon 2018, natural woodgrains are in growing demand for cabinet doors. This trend continues to build traction from 2017, where embracing the natural character of woodgrains was a consistent theme in interior design and at international tradeshows. Trending woodgrains with a natural, low-sheen finish like light oak, maple, and rich, vibrant walnut make an eye-catching statement on modern slab doors and exude contemporary elegance in two-tone combination with painted-look neutrals.

Showing off the natural beauty of real wood veneer is now easier than ever with Clear Coat UV finishing from Northern Contours. UV-cured finishing is one of the most efficient and environmentally friendly processes in use today, resulting in significant reduction or complete elimination of VOCs (volatile organic compounds). UV-cured coatings consist of two main parts: a catalyst that initiates the curing process when exposed to ultraviolet light, and resins that cure very hard and are solvent and scratch resistant. Northern Contours offers a wide array of classic, exotic, and reconstituted wood veneer species. Reconstituted species help replicate the patterns of endangered hardwood species and offer a very consistent grain pattern.

Designing home organization spaces like media centers, home offices, wet bars, and closet spaces with natural woodgrains can give spaces warm, welcoming vibes. Woodgrains like oak and walnut pair effortlessly with white in sheens from matte and satin to high gloss. Neutral grey in warm or cool tones as well as modern matte black are also easily paired with oaks and other light Reconstituted veneer species. Looking to add a little color to your design? Try pairing light, Scandi-inspired woodgrains with muted, matte pastels like blues and greens. For extra style points and a flowing luxe look, wood veneer can be grain matched on cabinet fronts horizontally or vertically.

Join Michele Weitzel for her presentation “What’s Trending in Colors and Textures” at the IWF 2018 Closets Symposium to learn more about Wood Veneer & Clear Coat UV finishing from Northern Contours.

About Northern Contours

Northern Contours is a cabinet door and components manufacturer with over 25 years of industry experience. We serve a variety of customers on a custom and volume basis in Kitchen & Bath, Home Organization, Commercial Furniture, and Refacing markets. Manufacturing expertise in membrane pressing, miter folding, laminating & edgebanding, machining & routing, and 5-piece door assembly. We operate six facilities throughout the US and Canada for full coverage of North America.



Give More, Get More

9. August 2018 07:02

 By: Ralph Bagnall, Woodworking Consultant, Author, TV Host: Consulting Woodworker.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.


Effective Estimating that leads to Bullet Proof Proposals - Part 6

9. August 2018 07:01

By: Bobbo Buckley, Software Developer: Cabinotch Innovative Solutions

Effective Estimating that leads to Bullet Proof Proposals - BMG10

In our last Effective Estimating post of this series, we talked about our Estimate and Proposal ACCURACY. In this final post of the series, I want to remind all cabinetmakers (me included), that when it comes to manufacturing cabinets, "The end depends upon the beginning." No matter how effective we design, engineer, machine, assemble, finish, hardware, deliver and install a project, if our Estimate was bad, then there is a good chance our Proposal was bad, and if they were exorbitantly high, we just might earn a reputation that is not conducive to future projects, and if they were too low, we may lose money on the project, and just a few of these can break even a strong company.
We need to know out costs, and we need to know them well. We need an Estimating System that can take Material and Labor costs and build upon them the appropriate markups that will cover our overhead. Our overhead must include things that we don't think of on a day-to-day basis, but we must force ourselves to do so.

  • If you want to retire one day, you have to build in the cost of funding your retirement.
  • If there is any chance you might cut off a useful part of your body, you need to insure for that (Disability Insurance).
  • If you own a building, you have to build in the cost to own, insure and maintain that building.
  • Whether you own your building or rent your building, you have to build in costs for utilities.
  • If you own equipment (and what cabinetmaker doesn't), you have to build in the maintenance and replacement cost for that equipment, and the cost to keep it insured. Keeping in mind that the new breeds of CNC and/or NC equipment lives in dog years (1 year is the equivalent to 7 years).
  • If you own tools (and what cabinetmaker doesn't), you have to build in the maintenance and replacement cost for those tools, and the cost to keep them insured.
  • If you own vehicles, you have to build in the maintenance and replacement cost for those vehicles, and the cost to keep them insured.
  • In additional to covering your labor, you need to cover the cost of labor (i.e., paid vacations and holidays, workers comp insurance and taxes).
  • If you own and use computers, you have to build in the maintenance and replacement cost for those computers, and the cost to keep them insured.
  • If you own and use software, you have to build in the upgrade and support costs for all those software programs.
  • In addition to the direct labor that is part of your cost-of-sales, you must build in indirect administrative labor costs (some portion of your pay might fit right here).
  • If you want to continue your business over many years, and who doesn't, you must build in your cost of sales (advertising, commissions, etc., some portion of your pay might fit here)
  • If you are operating on borrowed money, you must build in the cost of operating on borrowed money.
  • If you breath oxygen and/or have a pulse, you must build in the cost of taxes, lots and lots of taxes.
  • If you breath oxygen and/or have a pulse, you must build in the cost of complying with regulations, lots and lots of regulations.
  • If you want to survive long enough to quote another project, you must build in a healthy profit margin.

I know, it can feel overwhelming to think about, and then you have to think, what if the market won't bear all of this material and labor cost, overhead and profit? AND, how to I apply overhead to a single Project?
Well, back to my earlier quote from an unknown author, "The end depends upon the beginning." Our Estimating System has to be rock solid so we are not guessing at what to charge our customers, and we know that EVERY job is not only covering our costs, but is PROFITABLE.
We will cover these things and so much more during the Effective Estimating session at IWF-2018 in Atlanta, have you signed up yet? You can do that by clicking on the link at the beginning of this post!


IWF 2018: Engaging Specifiers and Building Strong Media Relationships through Trade Show Events

9. August 2018 06:58

By: Amanda Eden, Stoner Bunting Advertising
Public relations is a complex strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between companies and organizations and the publics they serve. Bored yet? We don’t blame you. This basic definition of PR is why nobody really understands what public relations practitioners do on a day-to-day basis. The truth is, PR is an often-intangible world that inhabits a unique space amongst traditional marketing and advertising activities.
PR is Changing, and That’s Okay
In the past few years, the formula for building a winning marketing plan has changed. The rise of modern public relations, driven by digital engagement and social media has also shifted. As more and more building product brands struggle to bridge the gap between traditional advertising and media relationships, you have to focus on strategizing, developing and executing PR plans that do both.
Publishers and editors were once the gatekeepers who supplied the A&D community with engaging content that informed and persuaded them, but don’t forget about mediated interpersonal communication, owned media assets and social channels to complement and bolster your work.
One way we achieve this is by capitalizing on trade shows and industry gatherings that bring all key players to the same city or region. From NeoCon, the world’s largest commercial interior design show, to the AIA Conference on Architecture, a gathering of 17,000+ architects, designers and manufacturers, to IWF, one of the top woodworking trade shows in the world (which we look forward to seeing you in Atlanta!), the possibilities for strategic engagement are endless.
Without the proper strategy, however, your chances of standing out and earning your keep are slim to none. In fact, recent figures show that out of the average 400 booths at a trade show, the typical attendee plans to visit – drumroll please – 21. That means your booth has about a 5% chance of being visited by any given attendee. Rather than wait for 5 percent of a particular show’s attendees to visit your booth, take this opportunity to be proactive and
go beyond the booth to engage with the A&D community on a more personal, face-to-face level away from the trade show floor.


Influencer Events Are Important Relationship Builders
In recent years, our clients have capitalized on trade shows by hosting influencer events. Whether it is a dinner or a behind-the-scenes manufacturing tour, pairing clients with architects, designers and trade publications.
This face-to-face meeting of minds helps build relationships with key audiences and target media. As many of the attendees are well known on social media and run blogs, forums, podcasts and more, it also helps keep our clients at the forefront, building special connections and engaging continued conversations and relationships.
Events like this can also result in a high level of interaction and engagement on social media, raising awareness in a subtle and organic way. This helps demonstrate the brand’s message and personality, humanizing it and putting faces with a corporate logo or brand name.
Bringing together the A&D community in the happiest place on earth
At a national conference located in Orlando last year, our team began brainstorming off-site events and influencer engagement opportunities early in the planning process. A few months before the show we devised a plan that would bring together our clients, influential architects and the A&D community in the most magical place on earth.Each client has a rich collective history that spans several continents. Not only that, but their products are used by international architecture and design firms around the world. What better way to celebrate this global heritage and presence than in EPCOT, Disney’s experimental prototype city of tomorrow that is home to the “World Showcase.”
Bringing together more than 40 architects, editors and publishers, the group met a special tour guide from Disney, who escorted us through the international pavilions in EPCOT’s World Showcase. The event featured a progressive course of drinks and bites followed by a private dinner along EPCOT’s lake as we toasted to “Architecture Around the World.”
Along the way, guests learned about our clients’ unique products, commitment to manufacturing and design excellence, and had valuable conversations with architects, designers, editors, publishers, brand representatives and important decision makers. These are the relaxed, organic conversations that are impossible to have on a show floor.
After fireworks on the lagoon, we ended the evening with a private, behind-the-scenes journey through the sky, flying high from one extraordinary landmark to the next on Soarin’ Around the World. Not only did the event allow clients to engage with architects, designers and the media, it was the perfect opportunity to create lasting relationships and deeper connections.
Putting the “R” in Public Relations
So what does successful PR look like? It’s creating value out of relationships, feelings and other intangibles. It’s connecting great minds and thinkers from different backgrounds and fields. It’s figuring out a strategic way to create lasting, positive memories at a trade show where brands get lost like a needle in a haystack.
Want to Know More?
If you want to learn how to invest in public relations and modern marketing and IMC planning, attend 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 w


Two component polyurethane, plural component polyesters to be covered at IWF finishing event

8. August 2018 07:42

ATLANTA -- The IWF Finishing Symposium is set for August 21, 2018 in the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, the day before IWF exhibits open.

The full-day event will look at new technologies and best methods that finishers could use in their business. This symposium includes a number of presentations and an opportunity to talk to suppliers and finishing experts face-to-face with your questions.

David Jackson of Gemini Coatings will discuss finishes that many shops may not have adopted, such as two component polyurethane, plural component polyesters, and some UV finishes.

Two Component Polyurethane (2K PU) coatings are gaining in popularity due to their ability to provide the various aesthetics with great durability, Jackson said. They can be used for high gloss to the “natural look” dead flat. 2K PU are also used to create durable faux finishes. Both the “natural look” and faux finishes usually create durability issues in many other commonly used wood finishes, but 2K PU’s great durability can often make up for this. Many 2K PUs are very flexible and can be applied at higher dry film thicknesses without cracking versus some other commonly used wood finishes. Also, some 2K PUs have exterior durability.

Plural Component Polyesters (PE) are used in niche applications for closed pore high build appearance. PE sealers are capable of high application rates of 10-12 wet mils per coat. Two coats like this typically provides a closed pore even with substrates such as oak. This with their durability leads to their use in many high end closed pore applications.

UV coatings unique chemistry allows them to be cured by light. This rapid film formation leads to many uses for wood substrates. Add this to UV’s exceptional durability and UV finishes popularity is growing quickly.

Learn about these wood finishes and more at the IWF 2018 Finishing Symposium.


The IWF Finishing Symposium is sponsored by Fuji Spray, Gemini Industries and Milesi Wood Coatings.



Lean Manufacturing is More Than Just Tools - Top Management’s Role in a Lean Manufacturing Transformation

8. August 2018 07:39

“The best approach is to dig out and eliminate problems where they are assumed not to exist.”  Shigeo Shingo

This quote struck a chord with one of my recently. Early in our work I had asked that they measure performance of two automated processes within the value stream which was the main focus of our work. The client believed this was unnecessary since the process is automated, manual time is less than the automatic cycle time (internal to cycle) and the equipment is reliable. They were surprised to find the average output was less than 60% to target!

It wasn’t until I shared the quote many months later than he explained that he felt there was no need to look for waste in this process and now understands the need to look for waste in all processes. He explained to his team that they cannot assume that automation alone will meet their needs. There is a strong need to measure performance to target and to problem solve in order to meet the targets.

Learn more on this topic at Larry's session "Leading Change, Top Management's role in a Lean Manufacturing Transformation" at the IWF 2018  Education Conference.


Do You Have What It Takes To Build A Winning Team?

8. August 2018 07:36

By: Gary Vitale, GFV Business Advisory                                                                                                                                                                      

The question: “Do You Have What It Takes?” has been asked for centuries and in many contexts.  When it comes to leadership and team building the answer is yes, in most cases good leaders have what it takes to build a winning team.  But then why do so many leaders fail?  The answer lies in the details of how extraordinary leaders prepare and the process they use to select, train and build their teams.  Just by reading the previous sentence will give you clues to why most leaders fail.  If you break down the components and drill down you will see this is not as simple as it sounds.

First, extraordinary leaders go through a rigorous process to select their team members.  They evaluate talent from many perspectives and use all the tools available.  In business these tools consist of a resume, several interviews by people within the organization to determine fit and talent, reference checking, and a professional assessment.  Some leaders even go beyond this but at a minimum all of the mentioned items should be part of the evaluation process to determine if an individual is a good fit for your team.  How many of these tools do you use consistently?  If you are falling short you may be compromising your ability to select the right players for your team.

The second part of the process is on-boarding and training.  Usually these are two separate steps but I will combine them here for the sake of space.  Even the best players will struggle if you do not take the time to give them a well thought out orientation period where they can meet and understand the functions other employees perform and see how everyone contributes to the success of the company.  Just as important is a clear explanation of the new employee’s performance expectations and how he or she fits in to the overall plan.  Without this step they will be left to wonder from person to person asking questions and learning by osmosis.  Certainly top performers expect more from you and will see a lack of effort on your part as a red flag when deciding if they are a good fit for you.  That’s right, just as you are going through the process of deciding whether or not the prospect is a good fit, they are doing the same.  Your job as a leader is to make them want to work for you and the company.  If you slack off on the orientation and training after they are hired my guess is things have a good probability of not working out as well as you or the candidate anticipated.

Training is an ongoing process that requires thought and time.  And, training should not be limited to product knowledge and job performance topics.  Training should be well-rounded and include company culture, self-improvement, team building, and many other topics that will make employees feel they are valued and keep them interested.  This is a broad topic and sometimes it takes a little outside help to implement correctly.

Finally, there is the evaluation stage.  For new employees this should be done at a minimum every six months for the first year and a half.  And it is extremely important that it be made clear that this is a two way conversation.  Just as you have expectations, so do the new team members.  An honest, open conversation is essential to building trust, setting goals and future expectations, and addressing any areas of concern on both sides.

The process described above really just scratches the surface of how extraordinary leaders select, build, and retain team members and it is an ongoing process that never ends.  Too many leaders select a team member and leave it to others to make it work.  Strong leaders make sure it works and are part of the process. 

So, do you have what it takes?  You do but the real question is; are you prepared to put in the time and effort to make it work?  This is the difference between teams that win consistently and teams that win occasionally.     

Learn more about this at Gary's session "Building Winning Teams" at the IWF 2018 Education Conference.