Tuesday - Friday | August 25-28, 2020

Georgia World Congress Center | Atlanta, GA | USA

Check the latest article for IWF atlanta users

IWF Education: What's Your Problem?

7. April 2020 10:36
 

 Presented by:

 

 

Sponsored by: 

 

By: Amanda Conger, Executive Director, Cabinet Makers Association

All companies have pain points. What’s yours?

Time Management

From scheduling and project management to finding time to do the business side of running your own business. How do you fit it all in and still have a life outside of work?

 Finding Your Niche

Don’t stretch yourself thin by trying to all things for all customers.  Know your competitive advantage and clearly communicate it to your customers and prospects.

Customers

Sometimes managing the customer’s expectations is the most difficult part of the project. Then when it’s over, how do you ensure that you get paid?

Employees

Finding, keeping, motivating, and staying on task. Do you find yourself doing more because you know you can do it better and without the hassle?

The Unexpected

Disasters, either man-made or natural, will happen. How can you be prepared for the inevitable and unpredictable?

Growth Management

When should you add more employees? When should you buy more equipment? Or perhaps it makes sense to outsource instead

Pricing

How do you price for profitability yet stay competitive?

Vendors

Find the best fit and accept nothing short of your expectations. Form strategic partnerships with responsive vendors and build lasting relationships that add to your bottom line.

Avoiding Burn Out

How do you get back to the pleasure of the craft that got you started in this business in the first place? Get an inside look at how some of the top woodworking shops are continually growing and making significant profits.

Regardless of your particular struggle, you should attend “What’s Your Problem?” during IWF 2020. This round table discussion is a unique networking opportunity to help you learn from others who have been there, done that, and succeeded.

Learn more at CMA’s popular, “What’s Your Problem” roundtable discussion is an opportunity for show attendees to relax, learn and share their problems and solutions with other like-minded woodworking professionals.

 

Getting Business Finance and Help at Your Local Level

6. April 2020 10:38

By: Laurie Wolff, Certified Global Business Professional

So far in my blogs we’ve focused on small business resources available at the national level through the CARES stimulus package. Where else can you get help? Almost certainly your state has programs available to assist small business. Many states are offering zero interest or low interest loans to businesses that qualify. There are funding pools available in some metropolitan areas or parts of states.

For example, the state of Illinois has several programs for businesses, some limited to Chicago, some to outside the Chicago area. California has state wide programs, and specific areas such as Sacramento and San Francisco have their own programs.

I live in St. Louis and our local tech incubator, which does lots of small business development, is networking and sharing links for a variety of regional programs. Your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) or economic development office will have the best information about programs available just for firms in your area as well as state wide or national programs.

If you haven’t made a relationship with them before, now is a good time to get networked with other businesses in your community. I’m sure District Export Councils and Chambers of Commerce are also trying to identify and share resources with their members. Local business communities and business assistance centers are pulling together to help get us through this pandemic induced economic crisis.

Private lenders, both traditional and the “fin tech” nontraditional lenders, are also offering help. Our new era of “fin tech” where nontraditional lenders and payment mechanisms have grown rapidly is both good and bad—there are new sources for funds and new abilities to move them rapidly, but there is also more possibilities for fraud and for nontraditional intermediaries to have liquidity issues. Exercise caution.

Do due diligence before you agree to anything. And, don’t forget that the government resources may be grants, which directly contribute to your bottom line, even if they might take longer to access.

I plan to talk with you about exporting when we meet in Atlanta at IWF 2020, but in the meanwhile I’m happy to answer questions and make referrals to resources, whatever will help you move forward with your business.

Reach Laurie Wolff c/o IWFNetworkNews@iwfatlanta.com

Herman Miller Poster Child: Resident Graphic Artist

5. April 2020 23:15

By Bill Esler, Editor, IWF Network News 

His posters for the annual Herman Miller company picnic have been accepted into the collection of New York's Museum of Modern Art. An intriguing snapshot of the work of graphic designer Steve Frykholm, who says life at Herman Miller really has been a picnic. Frykholm reflects on his 45+ year tenure at the company and revisits his first—and now canonical—assignment on the job. 

The New CARES Act Lets You Seek a Payroll Tax Credit of $5,000 Per Employee

4. April 2020 13:52

By: Laurie Wolff, Certified Global Business Professional

Is all well or at least okay with your business? In my last post, I described a payroll grant program that has just become available for businesses under pressure by the current health crisis. 

The Paycheck Protection Program offers small businesses loans that can be forgiven if all employees are kept on payroll for eight weeks and the loan is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest and utilities. The forgiven amount has to have at least 75 percent related to payroll expenses, but other expenses can be part of the loan package. 

If you qualify as a small business, you can get a government loan that becomes a grant based on maintaining your payroll. Even if times are still good, this will increase your bottom line and allow you to invest in future opportunities. If times are tough, this is a potential life line to hold out until we get through the pandemic induced shut downs.

If taking advantage of a loan turned grant from the SBA isn’t right for you, then consider a couple of other options created in the recent government stimulus package.

For example:

  • You are eligible for a payroll tax credit if you have maintained employment and don’t seek or obtain an SBA loan. The credit is equal to 50 percent of wages and includes qualified health expenses. This is up to $10,000 gross paid out for wages and health benefits per worker, so the credit would be $5,000 per worker.
  • You can claim the credit against quarterly payroll taxes or take advance payment of the tax credit if you need cash now. Please talk to your accountant and claim this tax credit if you are eligible.
  • You also can defer your portion of payroll taxes, which is 6.2 percent of payroll. It won’t in the end save you money, but it will improve your cash flow now. The repayment schedule is stretched out to 2021 and 2022.

I will address this theme in other blogs but I want to hit home with you that the firms that expand, that buy capital and invest in developing new customers and new markets in the down times are best situated to grow and gain market share in the next up cycle. If you are healthy now, please deploy resources so that you can thrive when we get through this pandemic.

Economic expansions do not die of old age, and our underlying economy is strong. We just lived through the longest expansion ever. Our underlying capacity is amazing. We got hit with a shock that for once is not really economic, not about liquidity or the financial system, or anything else that we usually would label as causing a recession.

We have a health crisis which is making all of us make different choices than we usually would make. We will have the worst numbers ever in jobless claims, unemployment and decreased production. It will be a sharp downward move and bad in most measurable ways.

But we are also doing the largest stimulus ever and have the best underlying productivity ever. Jobless claims are so high because the technology is there to immediately make them, and the funds are there to pay them. It will help stabilize spending.

I like to think of the really bad numbers as a really good sign that we are on top of this. Be strong and prosper. (My scify fandom is showing but I want to encourage you that we will get through this.)

I plan to talk with you about exporting when we meet in Atlanta at IWF, but in the meanwhile I’m happy to answer questions and make referrals to resources, whatever will help you move forward with your business.

Reach Laurie Wolff c/o IWFNetworkNews@iwfatlanta.com   

The New CARES Act Is Aimed at Helping You With Worker Payroll. Here's How to Tap It

3. April 2020 16:01

By: Laurie Wolff, Certified Global Business Professional

My guess is you are struggling with the economic impact of COVID-19. Some of you have new opportunities, given the need to retrofit spaces to protect employees and possibly even to produce high need items to fight the pandemic. Some of you can still operate normally. Others are facing state-wide stay-in-place orders that are challenging operations. Still more are seeing large decreases in your booked business and are having to lay off workers and manage your cash flow.

Help is on the way. But you will have to actively engage if you want to take advantage of any of the programs. I will have blogs on several opportunities but for this one I’m focusing on one program offered through the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Part of the CARES Act (the recently passed more than $2 trillion stimulus package) is directly aimed at keeping people working in small businesses across the country. Even if all is great for you right now, pay attention and consider applying. If you qualify as a small business, you can get a government loan that becomes a grant based on maintaining your payroll. Even if times are still good, this will increase your bottom line and allow you to invest in future opportunities. If times are tough, this is a potential life line to hold out until we get through the pandemic induced shut downs.

The Paycheck Protection Program offers small businesses loans that can be forgiven if all employees are kept on payroll for eight weeks and the loan is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest and utilities. The forgiven amount has to have at least 75 percent related to payroll expenses, but other expenses can be part of the loan package. 

Consider including expenses related to business expansion. The can include attendance at trade shows such as IWF 2020, which allows you to meet new customers or find new suppliers. I advised another small business I work with to include in his loan package funds to relocate part of his business to business sales effort - which now can’t happen in person - to an online platform. Are you getting the idea? 

 


Is the Tide Favoring U.S.
Wood Industry Exports?

IWF 2020 offers two learning opportunities
on export for the U.S. wood industry
by economist Laurie Wolff. Read more

The loan has a maturity of two years, no payments for six months, and an interest rate of 1%. For now the window for payroll is between February 15th and June 30th so firms that have laid off workers can rehire them based on the loan and still qualify. Possibly the government may lengthen the window or increase the total funding level given future need, but for now the authorization is $350 billion. Loans can’t be for more than $10 million and most will be small.

You need to have a relationship with a banker to get this loan. Many banks that previously did not do SBA loans are seeking approval to make them for their customers. The existing SBA lenders, including the large national banks, are saying they will not be able to expand beyond their existing customers. If your bank isn’t trying to become a lender under this program, my best advice is to talk with the other banks in your town or region to find someone willing to work with you. While the loan is guaranteed by the government, the banks still have to do diligence and so the best situation is to work with a bank that already knows you and your operations.

I hope that the business owners that attended my IWF 2018 workshops on expanding their business through international trade stepped out, followed my advice, and got SBA loans because that now is advantageous. If you already have a SBA loans, it makes it easier to get this one, and the SBA has two programs open to extend payments or add extra lending to their existing clients’ loans.

To qualify as a small business, you generally have to have less than 500 employees, but you can go to SBA.gov to see if your business qualifies. Information about this and other programs is available there, but really, truly for this program you need to talk to your bank to see if they are ready to accept applications and if not, call around town to find a bank that will.

More on other opportunities in future blogs, but all the best as we try together to get through these challenging times!

IWF Education: What is slippage and how does it impact my bottom line?

31. March 2020 10:00


By: Marc Sanderson, Owner: INNERGY

We are all in business to make money. What we do determines if we fall short, meet or beat industry average profitability. It’s our actions, decisions and behaviors that define our organization’s performance. I regularly ask the following question when I speak before large, industry gatherings: “What would happen to your business’ profitability if you could consistently (a) release clean, complete shop drawings, (b) provide 4-6 week lead time, and (c) have all material ready in inventory awaiting production?” 65% of the industry responds that achieving this trifecta would cause profitability to more than double! What would you do to double your profitability?

Most of the industry focuses on the sawdust producing portion of the process. Production is viewed as the holy grail to incremental profitability and operational effectiveness.  And this belief makes sense given that ~90% of the capital employed is on machinery and production activities. 50-75% of our staffing is also on the shop floor and thus warrants managerial attention.  However, what prevents clean drawing, reasonable lead-times and raw material availability?  It’s not the shop floor. The factors that can double one’s profitability are defined prior to release, prior to sawdust production. Problems manifest themselves on the shop floor, but their genesis is in the office.  How do we think through and structure the office workflow towards the trifecta?

I am excited to be with you at IWF 2020 and grateful for the opportunity to present.  There are many things that impact and prevent us from achieving the conditions that would double our profitability.  The big questions I will address are, “What is slippage?” and “How does it impact my bottom line?”

Together, we will explore:

  • What slippage is
  • Both positive and negative examples of slippage
  • Causes of slippage in the architectural woodwork industry
  • Tools to impact slippage
  • How to reduce/prevent slippage
  • How to create your own Slippage Action Plan

I’m excited to be with you all and explore how we can mitigate slippage in our businesses during the "How Does Slippage 
Impact Your Margins?", session at IWF 2020.

 

IWF Education: “When to Outsource”

30. March 2020 09:48
 

 Presented by:

 

 

Sponsored by: 

 

By: Joe Knobbe, Past President: Cabinet Makers Association

How do you determine the value of and when you should outsource? Whether it’s doors and drawer fronts, the cabinet boxes, finishing, installation, or any other aspect of your production process, you should know why it may or may not make good business sense to do everything yourself.

Just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should do it.

Outsourcing makes a lot of sense for smaller companies, especially those who don’t have the sophisticated equipment to do every type of project. Machinery is a really big investment for smaller shops, so outsourcing the various components is a viable solution, especially for unique projects.

Learn what is right for your business during the "When to Consider Outsourcing" session at IWF 2020.

IWF Education: The Most Successful Companies Are Run by Owners Who Understand the “Business” Side of Their Business!

24. March 2020 16:47

By: Tom Grandy, Founder: Grandy & Associates

Let’s face it, you used to work for another company and then decided you could do it better and faster and make the big bucks the owner was making if you went out on your own.  Bingo, you leave and start your own company.   Things go well the first year or two then you start doing more and more work…..while making less and less profit.  What’s going on?

First of all, 90% of all small businesses started like you did.  You’re strong on the technical end (getting work done) and weak on the business side.  There are two things that put most small companies out of business.  Number one is improper labor pricing, not know what YOU have to charge per hour in order to cover your costs of doing business while generating the profit you desire.  The second killer is cash flow.  A company can be priced perfectly…..and still go out of business because of cash flow issues. 

The good news is that Grandy & Associates will be offering a seminars on labor pricing, and cash flow, at the IWF Conference.  Hope to see you in the sessions!

Tags:

IWF Education: Understanding your Cyber Risks

23. March 2020 08:06
 

 Presented by:

 

 

Sponsored by: 

 

By: Dominic Vogel, Founder & Chief Strategist: CyberSC

While you are working a building a winning business, cyber criminals from around the world are scheming to steal your data. Be proactive about the projection you need and determine your level of risk.

Most companies are unaware of the high risk they face from cyber attacks. Even the smallest security breach can compromise the trust and integrity between you and your customers, your partners, and your vendors. It might also result in the loss of assets, future revenue, and potentially cause crippling litigation for your business.

Learn what you didn’t know you needed to know about cyber security during the "Cyber Security: What You Didn't Know You Needed to Know " session at IWF 2020.

Stretch Wrappers, Packers, Palletizers - Choosing a Secondary Packaging System

22. March 2020 00:07

By Derek Jones, Marketing Manager, Robopac USA

Let’s face it. Secondary packaging equipment is a broad category with multiple product lines and a variety of features with varying performance levels. From stretch wrappers, packers and palletizers to case equipment and laser-guided vehicles, and with so many companies touting the benefits of their product, how do I decipher which is the right product for me?

Robopac USA is exhibiting in Booth B8285 at IWF 2020

The best way to determine the right equipment in each of the product lines is to understand the best fit for your application. Think of it this way. When you decide to purchase a new vehicle, there are key “application” factors that come into play. If I have a family of four then I probably need a vehicle that has four doors, more room, third-row seating and maybe a built-in DVD player to keep the kids occupied on long trips. If I live in a harsher environment or like to off-road, then I may choose a more rugged vehicle with four-wheel or all-wheel drive. There are several application factors always in play when purchasing a vehicle.

The same holds true for deciding on which secondary packaging equipment is right for my operation. Let’s go through each of the product lines that make up secondary packaging equipment and uncover the key application decision factors:

Stretch Wrappers
Stretch wrappers are made up of two main categories: Semi-automatics and Automatics. Both categories are made up of sub-categories: Turntable, Vertical Rotary Arm, and Horizontal. Robots are a sub-category primary to semi-automatics. In most cases, if the loads you wrap are heavy (over 4,400 lbs.), very light, or unstable then they will need to remain stationary on a solid surface instead of a spinning turntable. If that is the case, you will need a vertical rotary arm stretch wrapper. 

Turntable stretch wrappers are ideal for wrapping stable loads that weigh under 4,400 pounds. Since floor space is at a premium in most facilities, choosing a reliable turntable wrapper with a small footprint is key. Depending upon the number of loads you wrap per hour, you can determine which turntable in the product line is right for you. 

If you wrap long products such as lumber, doors, windows, carpets, textiles, copper piping, or corrugated tubing then a horizontal wrapper may be the right solution for you. 

Flexibility is extremely important. Robot semi-automatic stretch wrappers are portable providing a 25% increase in productivity. Loads do not have to be taken to a set area to be wrapped. The machine comes to you. Plus, they can wrap loads of any weight, length and width.

Semi-automatics may require some human intervention like pushing a button to start the machine, attaching the film to the load before starting the wrap cycle, or cutting the film at the end of the load. Statistics show that the less the operator engages with the load directly, the safer and more productive they will be.

For example, if your semi-automatic stretch wrapper includes an automatic film cutting and sealing device, then the equipment will cut and seal the film to the bottom of the load at the end of the wrap cycle automatically.

Why is this important? It allows the operator to stay on the fork truck to stage other loads or perform other functions while the machine is wrapping the load increasing productivity. Keeping them on the fork truck keeps them safe preventing injuries by bending over time and again to attach the film to the load or cut it at the end of the wrap cycle.

Remote controls to start and stop the wrap cycle are also available to increase productivity. Keep in mind, some manufacturers include extended wrap height, a remote control, and other key features as standard which is very important in determining total value in your purchase decision. 

If you have more demanding, higher speed applications then an automatic stretch wrapper may be the right solution. Automatics can include conveyor systems to stage and run multiple loads, corner board placers to protect sides of loads and dual wrap arms for increased productivity.

Cutting edge manufacturers are now providing remote connectivity to your stretch wrapper operation which allows managers to monitor and improve performance. Remote assistance minimizes machine downtime and permits better maintenance management, also including an immediate troubleshooting procedure and full remote machine management software updates.

At the end of the day, the reason we stretch wrap loads is to protect the products that are being shipped. Choose a manufacturer who will deliver the right amount of film, at exactly the right position, with exactly the right amount of containment force to protect your products during shipment.

Packers
Most industrial manufacturing plants deal with large-scale production every day. Unreliable or incapable machinery may break down frequently. When this happens, production must cease, and costly downtimes are the result. The right wrap-around case packer and shrink wrappers must be able to reliably handle heavy-duty production. To keep the packing process moving forward, wrap
goods tightly for intact delivery. Flexibility in product application, changeover time, machine capabilities (film, pad + film, film + tray, tray only), speed, reliability/uptime and the need for a packer, wrapper, or combination will drive your decision making.

Palletizers
Automatic palletizing eliminates unnecessary labor, improves productivity, and increases safety in your shipping operation. Floor space an issue? Then consider a palletizer manufacturer with small footprint machines that offer concurrent stretch wrapping within the palletizer. This reduces floor space requirement by palletizing and stretch wrapping in once process. Positive product handling
that confirms proper load construction prior to layer deposit is vital in the purchase process. Safety is imperative in any operation. Identify manufacturers which build their palletizers to a minimum Category 3 safety standard.

Case Equipment
Case erectors and sealers may be the most difficult product line to determine which manufacturer’s machine is the right for my application. Case erectors and sealers eliminate costly labor and ensure cases are square for the unitization process during palletization and stretch wrapping. My advice…Don’t get caught up in the suction cup and folding arm rhetoric.

There are a few questions you need answered when choosing a case erector or sealer:

  • Can they at least handle all types of flutes, double wall and single wall, and most common case sizes?
  • At the end of the day, does their machine have a proven track record of erecting square cases squarely so they don’t jam in the machine?
  • And finally, can they reliably transition the box through the taper efficiently so that the box is squared
    and sealed correctly?

Laser Guided Vehicles (LGV)
Laser Guided Vehicles, or LGV, may be the coolest product in secondary packaging. It almost seems futuristic to see an army of unmanned forklifts in an operation working tirelessly 24/7 to meet shipping demands. The labor and safety savings for these machines are unmatched. When considering an LGV purchase, there are several key questions to consider.

  • Will it be operating in narrow spaces and tight passages?
  • Does the LGV need to handle multiple pallets?
  • Do I have very heavy product loads?
  • Do I need to move my products from one specific conveyor line to another?

Over time as your operation continues to grow, your end of line packaging strategy will become more diverse. Consider sourcing through one single provider to build consistency, trust, and efficiencies.

ROBOPAC USA is the leader in the design, production, and service of secondary packaging machines and equipment. We offer a full line of configurable machinery to stretch wrap, pack, palletize, erect, and seal any product in the logistics industry. If you would like more information on this topic or to schedule an interview, please contact Derek Jones at 678-908-7909. 

Tags: