|West Virginia Company is America’s Oldest Woodworking Retailer
What does it take to survive in business — any business —for 80 years? Woodcraft Supply LLC, headquartered in Parkersburg and celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2008, cites its dedication to hiring knowledgeable people, providing unparalleled service, offering quality products and continuous user education as keys to its longevity and success. Jeff Forbes, President of Woodcraft Supply LLC, offered, “Most importantly, we believe Woodcraft has been in business for 80 years because of the value all of us place on relationships — whether with the customer, vendor or fellow associates.”
He continued, “These partnerships lead to success for everyone — a terrific finished project, a winning distribution strategy or a profitable woodworking business. And successful partnerships have a way of turning into deep and satisfying friendships, creating a woodworking family that you can count on.”
Woodcraft Supply LLC operates under the brand “Woodcraft,” and until 2006 was a subsidiary of the Parkersburg-based SBR Companies. “We are proud to be a West Virginia company and thankful of the support we’ve received from our local community and state leaders,” Forbes said. “To celebrate our status as America’s oldest woodworking retailer, we held our annual vendor trade show
in Charleston, W.Va., in June. Governor Manchin, Secretary of State Betty Ireland and many others joined in our celebration, which drew about 600 people from around the country to the capital city for a week.”
Founded 80 years ago in a one-room shop in Boston, Mass., Woodcraft has grown tremendously over the years. The company was relocated to Parkersburg in 1989 and since then has employed a combination of quality products with cutting-edge marketing techniques to position itself as a multi-channel industry leader for woodworking tools, supplies and advice among the estimated 40 million U.S. woodworkers. The company has grown to include more than 85 retail locations in more than 70 major metropolitan areas throughout the U.S. Its catalog, considered the standard by woodworkers, features more than 8,000 items. More than 2 million catalogues are distributed annually to all 50 states and 117 foreign countries. The company has evolved with the times to meet the needs and lifestyles of its woodworking hobbyist, “do-it-yourselfer” and professional customer base. Woodcraft was quick to implement its online strategy in 1995 with www.woodcraft.com.
Undergoing constant evolution and improvement, the site now boasts more than 1,000,000 visitors per month. Woodcraft Magazine (www.woodcraftmagazine.com) has also become a trusted source for woodworking projects, techniques and products. The magazine utilizes some of the top woodworking writers in the industry to provide editorial and project content. Jim Harrold, Joe Hurst-Wajszczuk, Paul Anthony, Scott Phillips, Bob Settich and Craig Bentzley are just a few of the seasoned industry veterans sharing their experience and knowledge with readers. With an emphasis on woodworking projects, the magazine is quickly becoming one of the industry’s premier “how-to” publications.
Woodcraft Magazine is published six times per year and distributed throughout the country, including in Barnes & Noble bookstores and certain Borders bookstores. Woodcraft operates under a franchise system, and its franchise owners are a major reason for the company’s success. Woodcraft franchise owners are local to their areas, know their customers and most are woodworkers themselves. Additionally, Woodcraft prides itself on providing its franchisees with excellent corporate support, quality woodworking products, tremendous marketing support and customer research.
Woodcraft also advertises heavily in the print and electronic woodworking media. The company is a sponsor of the nationally syndicated “Homefront with Don Zeman” radio program and has partnerships with some of the biggest “celebrity” woodworkers in the business, like PBS’s Scott Phillips. While all these efforts are important to positioning the Woodcraft brand in front of their customers, the linchpin to the company’s longevity — and to some degree the continued growth of the hobby itself — may lie with Woodcraft’s serious focus on woodworking education.
Most Woodcraft stores have an on-site woodworking classroom where customers may see tools and techniques demonstrated or actually participate in woodworking classes and workshops. The company offers many classes that help build woodworking skills in graduated steps. Just as one would choose an area of study in college, hobbyists or professionals can choose the woodworking subjects in which they are most interested. Ten subject areas are offered and include: Bandsaw, Carving, Finishing, Joinery, Router, Scroll Saw, Sharpening, Table Saw, Turning and Elective. Each subject offers its own unique set of classes.
Woodcraft also sponsors events focused on giving back to the community. One such event, the national Turn For Troops initiative, brings customers and community residents together to make handmade wood pens during Veterans Day Weekend. The goal is to create and then send thousands of handcrafted pens to American service personnel actively deployed overseas as a reminder that the folks back home appreciate their efforts. During the past four years, the initiative has resulted in more than 34,000 handcrafted pens being sent to our troops.
Forbes said, “As the oldest and largest retailer of our kind in America today, Woodcraft Supply has a long history of providing woodworking solutions. And you know that we’ll be here tomorrow, too, with all the quality products and know-how that our customers have come to expect from the Woodcraft name.”
“We’re excited to turn 80 and appreciative of our customers, vendors and employees that have helped us get to this point. We view each day as a new beginning and expect to be going strong at age 100 and beyond.”
For more information on Woodcraft or its 80th anniversary specials, visit the store nearest you, click on www.woodcraft.com or call (800) 535-4482.