Tuesday - Friday | August 25-28, 2020

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IWF Education: “When to Outsource”

30. March 2020 09:48
 

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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!

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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.

IWF Education: Making the Leap from Residential to Commercial

20. March 2020 15:24
 

Presented by: 

 

 

Sponsored by: 

 

By: Rick Thaler, Former Owner: OGB Architectural Millwork

I’ve been through the transition from residential to commercial work and lived to tell the tale.

I’m happy to report that I would never go back. I like commercial work better, and I find it more rewarding. I get to do the kind of work that turns me on, and at a scale that I find satisfying, and I’ve built a set of systems from the ground up that have served me quite well through the growth of my company.

If you’re considering taking up commercial work, you need to know the answer to this simple question: Why?

Do you want more opportunity? Diversification? More profit? More interesting work? The chance to work with different kinds of customers? All of the above?

These are all good reasons. The key is to do some soul-searching and make absolutely sure you have a good reason.

After all, if you’re happy with what you’re doing, and you’re making the money you want to make, don’t change. Change for the sake of change is not just worthless – it can be downright murderous, and many of the business failures I’ve seen involved people getting out of an area of competence and into one of high risk.

Learn more during IWF 2020 by attending the “Diversifying your Business: Think Outside the (Cabinet) Box” session.

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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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!
 
 

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