Tuesday - Friday | August 25-28, 2020

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20. April 2016 08:29


By:  Eugene Wengert, President: The Wood Doctor's Rx

The main purpose of a rough mill is to make a profit (or contribute to the overall profit).  the profit is a result of making a better product that is worth more, wasting less, and finding trouble spots before they are a disaster. The manufacturing of parts is therefore a means to an end.  So, what are the nine main factors that affect rough mill profitability?  How can I work with these factors to improve profitability in my operation.  VERY SPECIFIC INFO IS GIVEN.

Come learn more about this topic at Rx for Enhancing Roughmill Performance session at the IWF 2016 Education Conference.


Gaining an Edge with Tooling

19. April 2016 14:23

Gaining an Edge with Tooling

Nearly 20 years ago, when I was programming my first CNC, I had a chance to have a tooling rep come out to my shop and share his knowledge with me. At the time I was running a large batch of parts that each took about 40 minutes to mill on the machine. He handed me a sample tool to mount in the CNC and try out. Once it was set up he told me the feed rate and rpm to use. I was convinced that the bit would simply snap, but he said, “It’s my tool, so don’t worry about it.” That tool, the first spiral bit I had seen, did not snap, and literally reduced my program run down to 15 minutes per piece.

This is where I first came to appreciate the value of choosing the right tooling. It is where the work gets done. Where the “rubber meets the road”, and using the wrong tool for the job is like putting street tires on a race car. You will end up in a ditch.

Tooling companies spend a tremendous amount of time and money on developing the blades and bits that they sell, and there is a surprising amount of science that goes into making them. The good news for you is that while you need to be aware of the value of proper tooling, you do not need to spend a lot of your limited time educating yourself. You have the option of building relationships with experts in the field.

Tooling dealers who stock a variety of manufacturer’s brands are a great source of expertise you can tap into. They may be a bit more expensive to buy from, but they can save you a ton on money in the long run because they know what is out there and save you the time of chasing down specialty cutters you may need, leaving you free to do what you do best.

Manufacturer’s reps can also be highly valuable. Yes, they represent one brand and want you to buy their brand, but they are often available to visit your shop, watch what you are doing as you do it, and even let you try out different tools before you buy them. 

A third option is to maintain a relationship with your equipment manufacturers. The folks who make and sell expensive equipment have a vested interest in their customers being well satisfied with their machines, and they know all too well that the wrong tooling can effect this satisfaction. 

What does all this have to do with “The Magic of Custom Tooling” seminar at IWF this year? It’s simple. Unless you recognize how big an impact choosing the right “off the shelf” tools can be for your business, it is a lot harder to see how much there is to be gained through the use of custom tooling. It goes way beyond matching profiles.

Submitted by: Ralph Bagnall, Owner: ConsultingWoodworker.com




18. April 2016 07:45


By:  Eugene Wengert, President: The Wood Doctor's Rx

At least 3/4 of all wood manufacturing defects are related to or caused by moisture.  This seminar will discuss the answers to questions:   How do I measure the MC of lumber or manufactured pieces of wood?  What are the main characteristics of moisture meters?  What are the potential trouble areas?  Why do two different meters not always agree?  Are the “fancy” parts of moisture meters (including memory, average MC, standard deviation, temperature correction, species correction) essential and useful?  Some newer moisture meters will be available for inspection.  VERY PRACTICAL.

Come learn more about this topic at MOISTURE: Effects and Measurement session at the IWF 2016 Education Conference.


Are You a Boss or a Leader

18. April 2016 07:23

Are You a Boss or a Leader

How to Demonstrate Dynamic Leadership

And Why You Should Establish a “Zero-Tolerance” for Bad Bosses in Your Business

By Christine Corelli

In far too many businesses leadership has fallen by the wayside. The economy, rising costs, demanding customers, and fierce competition has caused most equipment dealers to have little, if any, time to think about their ability to lead. Rarely do they stop and think about how much more productive and profitable they could be if they stopped and paid more attention to this critical area of business.

 Success starts and stops with an organization's leadership.  And any business is as strong, or as weak, as the leader at the helm of their workforce.

 There are five essential facets of dynamic leadership for business success.

  1. Create the vision for the business and a smart competitive strategy to achieve goals
  2. Communicate that vision, the competitive strategy and provide direction
  3. Implement changes necessary to create and sustain success
  4. Sustain the momentum through employee motivation, reward, and recognition
  5. Execute competitive strategy 

Which is most difficult? Creating a vision is not that difficult.  Creating a smart strategy is not so easy.  Communicating can always be improved upon, and implementing change can be a real challenge. Interestingly, most business owners agree that the most difficult role of the leader is #4 – employee motivation.

 Dynamic leaders run their companies on a basic business fundamental that many seem to forget:

 Employee performance is the key to success and long-term business growth. Within the motivated employee are ideas, solutions to problems, and the ability to help their dealership develop a reputation for superior customer service, not just in Product Support, but throughout the entire company.

Employee Motivation

In an ideal world, every person you hire is self-motivated. The reality is it’s always up to owner of the company or department manager to keep employees motivated for high performance.  This is not an easy task, and much depends on how employees feel about their boss.

The Boss vs the Manager vs a Dynamic Leader:

Although these three roles are supervisory in nature, they are distinctly different. Which one are you?


Simply put, a boss is someone who owns the dealership or someone with a title who tells people what to do. They pass out orders as easily as salespeople pass out business cards. "Find that tool!" "Tag that machine!" “Clean up that warehouse!” This approach is not very effective in today's world.  

 A boss is simply that. A boss. Interestingly, the Number One cause of job dissatisfaction and demotivated employees is working for a bad one! Bad bosses micromanage people, show favoritism, talk down to their staff, and shoot down ideas. They are closed-minded and their doors are closed to new ideas and new ways of doing things. They don't care about people, they only act as if they care, and their employees see right through them.  There should be a policy of "Zero-Tolerance for Bad Bosses" in every company.


A manager directs, decides, and interacts with his or her staff to oversee operations, close sales, manage parts and service departments, and overall…make sure customers are happy and people do their job. Regardless of what type of business they work in, managers are accountable to executives for results.

Dynamic Leader

If you think of every great leader both past and present, all have two things in common – 1) They not only have a vision of where he or she wants their business to go but 2) they have the ability to influence others to go with them. They eloquently communicate their vision and have an innate ability to motivate, inspire, and influence their staff to do what needs to be done - and do it well.

Smart business owners practice dynamic leadership and insist their managers do the same. They also demand that all of their managers demonstrate leadership and lead in the same way. Many are now engaged in leadership training.

By way of example, A VP of operations of a highly successful construction and material handling equipment distributor made this comment to an industry consultant: “If only we could get every branch to perform like our branch in Tulsa.” She expounded on how well their staff performs, how productive and profitable the branch is and that the level of customer satisfaction was superb. The consultant stated, “It must be the branch manager. Show me a successful branch and I’ll show you a great leader.” The VP agreed and shared that this manager’s staff was no better than those in other branches. The big difference was this manager was also a dynamic leader who had the ability to motivate his entire team for high performance. He became the role model for all of the branch managers.


Great leaders recognize that because they have a title, they don't automatically get respect. They have to earn it.  


 “In the eyes of your employees and your customers, the extent to which you practice your values can be closely linked with their level of employee loyalty and your level of customer loyalty. They will infer what you value from your behavior and your words. Excellent leaders actively demonstrate and communicate these values on a day-to-day basis.”

Values are the beliefs and principles that guide individual behavior and form the foundation upon which an organization and all of its leaders operate. These play a strong role in leading by example. 

  • Honesty:                          The quality of showing truth in communication.
  • Integrity:                          The soundness of moral character. 
  • Professionalism:            Thinking and acting with the highest level of professionalism
  • Ethics:                               Having and adhering to a set of principles of right and moral conduct.
  • Respect:                           The quality of showing deferential regard for others in all situations. Disrespect is not tolerated.
  • Excellence:                      Being the best at what you do. “Good enough” doesn’t exist
  • Teamwork:                      Being part of a team and not always the team leader. Teamwork is a strong part of their organization
  • Customer Focused:        Focusing on keeping customers happy by keeping employees happy and committed to do so
  •  Accountability:              Holding themselves accountable to practice dynamic leadership and establishing    accountability throughout their organization. The leader and their staff know what, specifically                                               they should be accountable for.                         
  • Health and Safety:        Taking the health and safety of employees and customers seriously
  • Family :                            Treating employees and customers as if they were family and allow flexibility for employees to attend family functions
  • Continuous Improvement:  Continuously improving in their own leadership performance instilling continous improvement in their company.


Example of Company Values

This company is not in the equipment distribution business, but L.D. Docsa Associates, Inc., a GC located in Kalamazoo, MI, created its core values using LEADERSHIP as an acronym.

Loyalty to Clients and Employees

Excellence, Where “Good Enough” Doesn’t Exist

Accountability to Our Clients and Our Company

Dependability in Our Workmanship, Actions, and Safety

Everyone Working Toward the Goal – Teamwork

Respect for Each Other and Company Property

Sense of Urgency to Client and Project

Honesty and Integrity in Every Facet of Doing Business with Our Firm

Improving Continuously, Operationally, and Professionally

People, Remembering Clients and Employees Make theBusiness

Reprinted with permission.

Many dynamic leaders begin every staff meeting with a review of their core values.  Some even ask employees to relate how, specifically every value should be demonstrated. Some responses are, “Never stretch the truth or tell a lie to make a sale.” “Tell the customer the truth.” “Respect company property.” Demonstrate safety by locking out and tagging out unsafe equipment.”  What are your company’s core values, and how, specifically should your people demonstrate them?

Characteristics of Dynamic Leaders

When thinking of leadership characteristics, we often think of successful people with charismatic qualities. Great leaders do not have to have charisma. But they do have to possess admirable character traits. As you review the following list, think about which traits would most influence you to follow someone else’s lead and then rate yourself:


• Supportive








• Demonstrates core values






Surveys have revealed that the three most important characteristics they want in their leader are 1) TRUSTFUL – They want to feel they can trust their leader. 2) SUPPORTIVE - They want to be supported by their leader, and 3) DEMONSTRATES CORE VALUES. The more of these traits you possess and demonstrate, the more likely you are to earn the respect of your team. If you win the respect of your team, they will not only want to follow your lead, but will also perform for you.

Leadership Styles

Dynamic leaders have different styles. As you review these six leadership styles, consider which best describes your style.

Transformational LeadersTransformational leaders are capable of transforming entire organizations or departments. A dealer may call in a turnaround management specialist or industry consultant for help in this area, or they will hire someone with a proven track record to transform their entire culture.  Some are so dynamic and influential they do it themselves.

Creative, Experimental Risk Takers

This type of leader is a financial risk taker. Business owners who acquire or merge with other companies often have this style. They believe that risk taking, supported by numbers, can strengthen their position in the marketplace and improve their competitive stance. There are a multitude of leaders in the equipment distribution business who have made the decision to merge, buy other dealerships, and expand their offerings.

Charismatic, Domineering Battlers

Leaders who possess this style can also be described as charismatic bosses, and are not very effective in today’s business environment. Even with the current state of the job market, you might experience a high level of employee turnover if you lead by demand.

Relentless Pursuers of Performance

Relentless pursuers of performance settle for nothing less than peak performance. They drive people. A leader who demands high performance from his or her team will not tolerate an average performer. They do their best to help employees improve their performance. However, if their performance doesn’t improve, leaders with this style terminate them.

Servant Leaders

Leaders with this style believe that, after strategy, their main role is to serve their employees and help them excel. Leaders who can be described as servant leaders have hired only the best performers and provide them with the education, training, mentoring, coaching and tools they need to succeed. They work along side them.

Situational Leaders

Leaders who apply this style recognize that every employee cannot be led the same way. The Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory is based on the belief that the best leaders are those who adapt their style to the individual, group, or situation to get the results they want. Leaders with this style are in tune with what motivates and inspires each individual, understand their issues or challenges, and lead accordingly.

Which style is best?  The answer may surprise you.  Leadership style doesn’t matter. What matters most, is the quality of the individual!  If the leader is respected and admired, people perform for them. In fact,

                 “The Best Leaders Make People Feel They are Working WITH Them, and Not For Them.”

They are fair and supportive of their team. They care about their employees as much as they care about their best customers. Asking questions and listening to employees is how they keep them involved and engaged. They know how to make their team feel as if they are working with them and not for them.

The Importance of Communication

Studies have shown that 85% of an individual’s overall career success is directly proportionate to his or her ability to communicate. Dynamic leaders are excellent communicators.

Consider this scenario: Business is finally picking up. You made the decision to acquire a competitor, and you must merge two different cultures and two different ways of doing business into one cohesive team. You realizethe acquired companies systems and procedures were more advanced and decided to implement them throughout the company. However, your original employees are having difficulty adapting- especially the service manager and technicians.

What was once a fairly smooth company now is on edge, and employees are unhappy. Half of your team is spending much of the day complaining about the new systems and procedures and the others are worried about losing their jobs.

In this scenario, a dynamic leader would not sit back and wait for things to blow over. He or she would immediately acknowledge the turmoil caused by the dramatic organizational changes and then proactively handle the resistance and uncertainty these changes caused.

A dynamic leader reassures every employee that once they become accustomed to these changes, their jobs will become easier. This leader supports and helps the team, and explains how the merger will improve efficiency and profitability. Finally, a dynamic leader ensures that everyone will get through the transition together, one day at a time, and asks for ideas that could make the transition easier.

Information Is Key

In today’s environment, people lose their motivation if they are not kept informed about what is going on around them. The less they know, the more their performance is negatively impacted. This is especially true when there is a major change occurring.

The President of a distribution business decided to retire. He announced that his son would become the new President.  A “town hall” meeting was held and all employees were present. The group was quiet and apprehensive. Of course, people were worried about losing their jobs, and the new President knew they would be. They would also have a problem with the fact that he was far younger than other managers, even though he earned an MBA and worked in the dealership in various job roles for several years.

These were his opening words: “I’m sure you’re all wondering whether you will keep your jobs. I have no intention of letting anyone go, nor do I plan making any major changes in the way we do business during my first year. But I am going to put my heart into making this company grow and prosper. My vision is to expand, provide more jobs and rewards will be in the picture.  I ask of you is that you give your best each day and give me your support.  Also, I know that I’m younger than most of you, and you have far more experience than I do.  So, in the coming weeks, I’ll be speaking with each of you in teams and one on one. I would like to hear from you what you would do if you were the new President of the company. I want to hear what’s working and what needs improvement. And I want to know how I can be a great president.”

He immediately won them over, and did an outstanding job of communicating.

Ten Communication Tips for Dynamic Leaders

.     1)       Be a straight shooter. Your team should always feel that they hear the truth and know that you tell it like it is.

.     2)       Communicate the highest standards for performance, customer service and your expectations.

.     3)       Avoid miscommunication. Always ask your team if your expectations, instructions, etc., are clear.

.     4)       Ensure each employee knows the company’s vision, where it’s going, and how it will get there.

.     5)        Be confident and consistent. Your employees
are listening for the confidence behind your words.

6)       Communicate what you know and what you don’t; your team will respect you for it. This openness builds trust between you and your staff.

7)       Practice the “One Minute Manager”…Catch someone doing something good. Tell them immediately. Catch someone doing something wrong, tell them right away but in private.

8)       Communicate that for every problem, there is a solution and that you want everyone to be solutions-focused.

9)       Sharpen your facilitation skills. Facilitate frequent idea-sharing sessions on how to improve customer service, teamwork, productivity, employee morale, parts and service operations and how to better support your sales team.

     10) Spend a little time each day talking to individuals and asking questions similar to those below.

What do you think? (This may be the most important question you ask.)

Do you need any help?

How can we make this place a great place to come to work each day?

What’s your opinion on the new software?

How’s your team performing?

How can we improve customer service (teamwork, morale, productivity)

Have you heard any complaints?

How can we be proactive in preventing them?

Is there anything I should know about?

Questions to Ask if You Are a Brave Leader

Am I a boss or a leader?

How can I be better?  


Tips on Employee Motivation

  Eliminate cause of job dissatisfaction – bad bosses, territorialism, negative people, underperformers, dead-weight, feeling opinions don’t count.

  Bring out the best in every employee.

  Incorporate as much “FUN” in the workplace as possible. One way, is to put up a photo or cartoon and let people place their own caption. Reward the funniest.  Draw for a $20. Bill at every meeting.  Have a quick huddle in the parking lot. Play upbeat music in the service department.  Have executives do the grilling and serve their employees. Hold a “bake” sale and use the proceeds to buy pizza. Put up a basketball hoop and picnic area.

  Take a personal interest in your staff and treat them like family

  Appreciate them and thank them on a daily basis

  Involve them in idea sharing, problem solving

  Implement small and affordable ways to reward and recognize them such as gift cards for outstanding …service.

  Take one employee to lunch every week. Draw the names.

  Throw out the time cards and tell employees you trust them.

  Throw out the Rule book too.

Dynamic leadership and motivating employees requires a great deal more. As you interact with your team members, remember: Dynamic leaders motivate and inspire employees to follow their lead and deliver their best performance. They demand that other leaders in their company to practice dynamic leadership, which ultimately improves your company’s bottom line.

For now, ask yourself this question, “Would you want to work for you?”

Christine Corelli –

Christine Corelli is the author of six business books and a dynamic conference speaker. To learn more, visit www.christinespeaks.com or call (847) 477 7376. Be sure to attend her sessions at the International Woodworking Fair.



15. April 2016 07:26

Let’s face it, there is a reason you are taking the time to read this:  it’s time to start kicking you know what !

I know you can all relate when I say manufacturing in the wood industry is a tough grind.   After all, we are already doing everything we can to be successful, what more can there be?

 At IWF this year I am going to prove:

·         The factory that you believe is bursting at the seams still has lots of floor space

·         Your full production schedule can easily accommodate another 30%

·         You can cut in half that inventory you think you need

·         You can divide your lead time by 2,

·         It’s possible to have a fully engaged workforce!. 

 Ok enough with the fancy words, did I say “fully engaged”?  What I meant was a team that gets great joy from utilizing their skills to make a positive impact on their daily lives.  How many team members can say that they helped turn a company around? Or take a good company to a great company?  These are the kind of experiences that are required to change a plants culture, and it’s not as hard as it sounds.

I confess, I’ve had a wood manufacturing company for the last 25 years, and I did most of those years the hard way.   The turning point was my introduction to what is commonly referred to as “Lean Manufacturing”.  If you have heard of this concept and have someone telling you that it’s hard or complicated, keep walking.  Lean done right should be fun and bring pure joy to everyone involved.

 In this presentation of KICK ASS LEAN, we are going to cover:

·         Who the principles best apply to

·         What the principles are

·         When is the best time for a Lean Journey

·         Where do you get started

·         Why you should do it …… and of course I will include “how”!

 This presentation is not meant to be a teaser, it is my goal to give you specific and relevant information that you can take back to your factories and apply immediately.   You are going to leave prepared to start or continue the best journey of your life.  You will walk out of IWF at 5:00pm ready to KICK ASS.

The next post will include resources that would help gain insight and get the wheels turning when it comes to Lean.  

If you have any questions comments or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  My E-mail is brad@signaturewoodsystems.ca and I personally answer every email that comes my way.



Everything Old is New Again

14. April 2016 09:42

Everything Old is New Again 

Not all that long ago most of the items that the average person used on a daily basis was made within a short distance from where they lived and worked. Certain parts of the world were renowned for the quality of specific products. Sheffield England for example, was long known in our industry for making the finest steel cutting tools. But in most cases people bought the items of daily life from the people who made them. Today, for better or worse, we boast a global economy where even the most mundane objects we pick up are made halfway around the world.

But while earlier technologies made it profitable to centralize manufacturing, today’s technologies and social realities are swinging the pendulum back toward decentralization. Consumers are looking for ways to buy locally grown food and locally made products. And manufacturing technologies are making this more possible every day. Computers now control milling machines, plasma cutters, lathes, and 3D printers. The software that drives these machines has become vastly more powerful while falling in price. The first 3D CAD/CAM software I used 15 years ago cost nearly $20,000.00 per seat. The 3D modeling program that runs my 3D printer cost $45.00. Today, for the price of a mid-sized sedan, a mini factory can be set up in 1000 square feet that can make most of the non-electronic items needed around the home using metals, plastics and wood.

More and more of our customers every day are looking for businesses and products that are locally produced. They may be driven by interest in their local economy, or by environmental concerns, or by the desire for custom products that can’t be bought in a department store. As businesses, it is in our own best interests to at least be aware of these changes going on around us. There are new customers and new opportunities emerging every day, and history shows us that evolving to embrace change is far more valuable than ignoring it.

There was a time when cottage industries made many of the products common people used day to day. Advances in transportation and manufacturing technologies have changed this to the world we know today, but social trends are combining with the latest technologies to swing the pendulum back to a more locally based economy. Are you keeping track so you will be prepared for the new opportunities? At this year’s IWF show, you have the opportunity to learn the latest trends in manufacturing for our industry and related fields. The “3D Printing and the Return of Cottage Industry” seminar is specifically designed to give you an overview of the changes effecting the marketplace right now and in the near future.

Submitted by: Ralph Bagnall, Owner: ConsultingWoodworker.com



14. April 2016 09:34


By:  Eugene Wengert, President: The Wood Doctor's Rx

At least 3/4 of all wood manufacturing defects are related to or caused by moisture.  This session will begin with answers to the following questions:  How is wood moisture content (MC) related to temperature and humidity of the air?  What changes in wood occur when the MC changes, including swelling and shrinking?  Why do defects mostly show up within the first month or two after manufacturing, but seldom after a year or more later?  What is the correct MC for lumber and wood products?  How can I control MC after the lumber leaves the kiln?  VERY PRACTICAL.

Come learn more about this topic at MOISTURE: Effects and Measurement session at the IWF 2016 Education Conference.


5 Reasons Why You Should Use Email to Market Your Business

13. April 2016 06:35

5 Reasons Why You Should Use Email to Market Your Business

In today’s day and age, every company has a wide range of marketing tools practically at their fingertips. In the digital world alone, you can run a Google Adwords campaign, post a graphic ad online, promote your company on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest… the list goes on and on. And while there’s value to using these tools to promote your business, I think email is still the tool with the greatest potential to reach your audience, build relationships and increase sales. So, here’re the top five reasons I think every small business should be using email for their digital marketing efforts.

Everyone has email. Your audience potential is huge essentially because if someone is online they have an email account. According to the Radicati Group, in 2013, there were 3.9 billion email accounts worldwide – that’s three times the number of Facebook and Twitter accounts combined. And that number is growing. They also project that the number of email accounts will grow to nearly 5 billion by the end of 2017.

Your audience wants to hear from you. Great email marketing is permission based – that is, your audience tells you in advance that they want to receive emails from you.  They may be current customers, you may have met them at a trade show, they may have requested additional information through your website, registered to receive your e-newsletter, or any number of other opt-in methods. Whatever way they came to you, they asked you to be in contact and look forward to your email.  And every time you reach out to them, you ensure that you stay top of mind and continue to nurture the relationship.

Email can be highly personalized. You can send a specific message to a specific audience, or even a subset of an audience, and speak directly to that unique group or individual. Most email programs make it easy to pull the recipient’s name, company, past purchases, etc. into the subject line and body of your message. This level of personalization can be powerful – and effective. A 2013 Experian report reflects a 29% higher unique open rate and a 41% increase in click-through rates when personalization is used in promotional emails.

Emails engage and drive conversions. Email is an effective, affordable marketing tool that can positively impact your company’s bottom line, and the statistics bear that out. Venture Beat reports that email marketing returns $38 for every $1 spent – that’s a 3800 percent return. CampaignMonitor.com statistics reveal that email campaigns yield six times the number of click-throughs than you’ll get from a tweet. A 2014 McKinsey report indicates that email is 40 times more likely than Twitter or Facebook to result in new customer acquisition.

Metrics, metrics, metrics. Email marketing is relatively easy to measure – and do so consistently over time. You can track how many recipients opened, forwarded, clicked a link, shared the message to social media, and more. You can even tie sales directly back to a specific email campaign. You can use the feedback to improve your message, increase effectiveness of campaigns, and positively impact your bottom line – and have the numbers to prove it!

Join us on Thursday, August 25 from 9-10:30 a.m. for an educational session designed to help you use email to build your business. Register for the session at Email Marketing - Techniques for Staying Top of Mind with Your Customers.

 Submitted by: Susan Bagnall, Owner: ConsultingMarketer.com and Ralph Bagnall, Owner: ConsultingWoodworker.com


It’s Time to Build the Muscle in Your Woodworking Business and “Get Fit” for a Successful Future

12. April 2016 09:25

It’s Time to Build the Muscle in Your Woodworking Business and “Get Fit” for a Successful Future

By Christine Corelli

Over the past few years, you’ve gotten “lean and mean.” You’ve cut costs and struggled to manage your company’s working capital.  You did all of these things and more in order to survive through the most challenging times you’ve ever experienced. 

You trimmed the fat. Now that the economy is finally improving, it’s time to build the muscle in your company and “Get Fit for a Successful Future. Although it may seem like a daunting task, there are several ways to pump up the muscle. One of the most effective is to establish an Accountability Culture. Creating this type of culture will provide you with a competitive edge while increasing your opportunities for long-term business growth.  It will also make your job much easier, and help you to develop a great reputation.

Where to Begin

Interestingly, if you were to ask your office staff and workers to define “accountability,” you may find that each person has a different definition. Some might not even have a clue. Begin to establish accountability by explaining its importance to your employees and help them to clearly understand its meaning.

In simple terms, accountability means that an individual is responsible for a positive result in their job role and accepts that responsibility. It also means that an individual must answer to you and their immediate boss. In progressive companies, however, employees are not only accountable for their performance, but they are also accountable to every member of their team. In addition, to help their company move forward, they are accountable to display initiative beyond their job description.  For example, if an employee sees something that needs to be done, they just flex their muscles and do it.  If someone needs help they help. If they receive a problem they own the problem. And, they take ownership for their role in the construction project.

Real world example

A prime example of how to establish accountability comes from a business owner. Each year in he holds an meeting. He takes his employees to a restaurant with a private room and breaks them into groups of three. Then, he directs each team to create a list of where they think the entire company performed well the previous year. Then, together, they discuss how they can build upon what they did well. 

The next area of discussion is on where performance improvement is needed. How well did we perform for our customers? Did we deliver on time? How was the quality of our workmanship?

 Proactive Complaint Prevention is key

Next, there is a discussion on how complaints might have been prevented, and what new policies and practices should they put into place to prevent complaints in the future.

Time to Excel

The next areas of discussion are to identify ways they exceeded customer expectations and how they can continue to exceed – even “Wow” the customer. Here’s where the combined brainpower of a team can come up with ideas and solutions to problems.

Accountable for what?

Next is the most important part of the event. Together, the group compiles a list of what every employee should be accountable for. Agreement is reached. This business owner recognizes that Employee Involvement is what makes organizations fit for success, as people tend to “buy-into” what they help to create.

An “Accountability List” is compiled and given to each employee. Some departments are different than others. The owner directs them to look at that list often. Throughout the year, the owner and managers “talk up” the promises they made on their “Accountability List” to their employees.

Accountability creates excellence

Build the muscle and get fit for success. Define the meaning of accountability to your employees and ask what it means to them.  Clarify the areas in which people will be held accountable. Expectations must be stated in a specific and clearly differentiating manner. To accomplish this and strive for excellence in all you do, define precisely whatever old behaviors or attitudes must be abandoned, and what new behaviors must be exhibited on a consistent basis. Below are examples of how your list might look.

“We will be accountable to:

Make sure our inventory is neat.

Never cut corners. We know that if the job is not done right, people can get hurt.

Take safety seriously, if not to an extreme

Ask if we are not sure we will ask.

Make every effort to answer the phone by the third ring and apologize if a customer is put on hold.

Improve upon how we keep the factory running smoothly.

Bring a positive attitude to customers and each other every day

Recognize that with every interaction with customers, we must remember that we are “ambassadors of the business and have the biggest effect on customer loyalty.

Be cost-conscious and avoid waste in every area

Respect company property – trucks, tools, and equipment.

Make every effort to become the best woodworking business by continuously improving the level of service we provide

Provide the same high level of service to each other, as we do to customers

Work together for the betterment of our company.

Deliver our best performance, with every task, and every interaction, every day.”

Be Patient

Positive change does not occur overnight.  At first, you may encounter some resistance and uncertainty from your team on whether establishing an accountability culture will benefit them as individuals. Set the tone and be the example for others to follow. Be relentless in your pursuit of accountability and excellence and consistently communicate its importance to others.  If you are a great boss, where workers respect and admire you, and are happy to see you when you come in each morning, your job will be easier.

Hire Right

Communicate your Accountability list and customers service policies to new hires.  Let them know they must agree to adhere to these, or they will not fit in with your culture and your team. Hire only the absolute best and most talented people who fully accept accountability.

The Bottom Line

In your efforts to establish accountability in your business, keep this in mind: You will never succeed if your people are not made to feel valued. Ideally, management should be accountable to treat their employees as well as their best customers. Recognize it’s up to your entire leadership team to keep people motivated and help instill this culture.   You motivate them by being the best leader you can possibly be, while setting the highest standards for quality workmanship and superior customer service.

Treat employees with respect and appreciate their efforts on a daily basis. To support your Accountability culture, provide a working environment that fosters dynamic leadership, employee involvement and empowerment.

Be absolutely the best boss you can be! Then, you will be able to establish the accountability you need to build the muscle in your business and become fit for success in the future.


©Copyright, 2016 Christine Corelli & Associates, Inc.

Christine Corelli will be a featured speaker at the Woodworking Fair. She is the author of six business books including the best selling Wake Up and Smell the Competition. Don’t miss her sessions! To learn more visit www.christinespeaks.com, or call 847 581 9968.



Social Media: What’s the Big Deal?

11. April 2016 12:25

Social Media:  What’s the Big Deal? 

By: Iris Montague, Research Forester: USDA Forest Service; Kathryn Arano, Associate Professor of Forest Resources Management: West Virginia University and Jan Wiedenbeck, Team Leader/Research Forest Products Technologis: USDA Forest Service

 During the past two decades, the technology advances have greatly exceeded imagination. A world that once depended largely on printed material has become heavily digitalized. These technologies allow companies and consumers to be more productive and efficient in everyday activities. Companies are no longer dependent solely on newspapers, magazines, billboards, or mass mailings to market products or distribute company information. Individuals can gather information about favorite products and keep in touch with friends, family, and colleagues all at the same time. Many studies have shown that companies that are early adopters of new technology frequently are more successful in business applications. However, with the current economic climate, many companies must be careful in their capital allocation. Yet, one technological advance, the Internet, may help companies market their products and improve business functions with very little expense to them.

Internet usage has grown exponentially since it was introduced for commercial use in the early 1990’s (All About Market Research 2010). Within 5 years of its introduction, the number of users increased from 16 million to 248 million. Today, according to Internet World Stats (November, 2015), there are almost 3.4 billion Internet users world-wide – 46 percent of the World’s population.  In North America, 88 percent of the population uses the Internet.  According to a recent study, 80 percent of Americans 18 years or older use the Internet and they spend an average of 13 hours per week online at home. The Internet also has had a great impact on companies globally. It is at once a world-wide broadcasting mechanism, a channel for information dissemination, and a medium for collaboration and interaction between individuals and their computers without regard for geographic location (Internet Society 2012).

A new Internet trend, social media networking, has had an even greater impact on the development and maintenance of social relationships. Social media can be defined as any online tool that allows social interaction between groups of people through the sharing of content, profiles, opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives. These tools may include message boards, podcasts, blogs, micro blogs, lifestreams, bookmarks, networks, communities, wikis, and vlogs. Currently, there are hundreds of social media network sites available online that cover a wide range of interests (e.g., business, politics, dating, cooking, fashion) and cater to just about every demographic group. Although the social networking services Twitter and Facebook have garnered a lot of attention in the entertainment world, these sites also have been successful in business applications. Facebook and Twitter, as well as other social media sites, provide businesses the mechanism to develop social relationships with their customers. These social media sites have allowed businesses to have “up close and personal” relationships with countless consumers, a connection that was not possible before the introduction of the Internet and social media.

Companies all over the world have responded to the strategic and operational benefits attributed to using social media as a marketing tool. Some of these benefits include gaining comprehensions into consumer behavior and preferences; urging consumers to share the brand’s message as word of mouth to their peers; increasing brand message exposure; connecting to consumers for research and development; building and increasing brand awareness; increasing brand equity; improving search engine rankings; and driving traffic to corporate websites (Trusov et al. 2009; Palmer and Koenig-Lewis 2009; Lebherz 2011). The forest products industry has thrived on communicating with and strengthening bonds within a specifically defined community (Koenig 2009). Facebook and Twitter, as well as other social media sites, provide businesses the mechanism to further develop social relationships with their customers. These close relationships were harder to cultivate with dozens to thousands of customers before the introduction of the Internet and social media. There is an opportunity, so far largely untapped, for the forest products industry to benefit from the enhanced relationships these tools create.

Join us at IWF 2016 Education Conference  for our sessions, "Social Media Tips and Trends for the Forest Product Industry" as we share information with you on how you can improve your social media game plan to achieve your business and marketing goals more effectively.

All About Market Research. 2010. Internet Growth and Stats: Today's Road to eCommerce and Global Trade. http://www.allaboutmarketresearch.com/Internet.htm

Internet Society. 2012. http://www.Internetsociety.org/Internet/Internet-51/history-Internet/briefhistory-Internet

Internet World Stats. 2015. Internet World Stats: Usage and Population Statistics.


Koenig, D. 2009. Lumber dealers cautious about social media. Hardwood Matters December: 8–10.

Palmer, A. and N. Koenig-Lewis. 2009. An experiential, social network based approach to direct marketing. Direct Mark. Int. J. 3(3):162–176.

Trusov, M., R. E. Bucklin, and K. H. Pauwels. 2009. Effects of word of mouth versus traditional marketing: Findings from an Internet Social Networking Site. J. Mark. 73(5):90–102.

Lebherz, P. R. 2011. Relevant factors for the impact of social media marketing strategies: empirical study of the internet travel sector. B.S. Thesis. Karlsruher Institut für Technologie. 119 p.