Woodcraft Celebrates 90 Years as a National Woodworking RetailerComments (0)
Photo: The Woodcraft 50th anniversary catalog cover featured “The First American Woodworker” in the company logo and a sculpture carved by famed artist Armand LaMontagne.
For nine decades, as technology took woodworking tools from the earliest circular saws to computer-aided machines, Woodcraft has supplied woodworkers and do-it-yourselfers with quality tools, supplies, and educational opportunities.
“Woodcraft is pleased to be celebrating its 90th retail birthday,” president Jody Garrett said, “and exceeding customers’ expectations – a Woodcraft corporate value – will continue to be the focus of our day-to-day operations.”
In 1928 when Calvin Coolidge was president and the
manufacture of woodworking tools was just beginning, George Eaton and Richard
Merrill opened Woodcraft in a one-room shop in Boston, Massachusetts. They
began their business life by selling new and rebuilt industrial woodworking
machinery to professional cabinetmakers and to schools.
Fifteen presidents later, Woodcraft Supply, LLC, is
one of the nation’s oldest and largest suppliers of quality woodworking tools,
supplies, and plans. Now based in Parkersburg, West Virginia, the company’s
more than 20,000 products are sold at retail stores in over 70 major
metropolitan areas across the U.S., through two million catalogs distributed
annually in all 50 states and 117 countries, and online at woodcraft.com.
“Woodcraft wants to sell products, but it also desires to help customers improve their woodworking skills and experiences,” Jack Bigger, vice president for sales and marketing, said. “To that end, woodworking classes are offered at retail stores, woodcraft.com offers how-to videos, blogs and articles, and Woodcraft Magazine provides new project and technique articles six times a year. Woodcraft also supports The American Woodshop with co-hosts Scott and Suzy Phillips on PBS and other woodworking personalities who provide educational content on traditional, online and social media channels.”
•1930s-1940s: Woodcraft’s business remained primarily in the secondhand woodworking equipment field for many years.
The 1934 catalog cover featured Boice-Crane Bench Machines.
The 1963 Woodcraft catalog references (upper right corner) a Special Wooden Plane Catalog, available upon request, described as “we believe the widest collection anywhere.”
•1950s: George Eaton launched a limited mail order business offering tools made by Wm. Marples & Son, plus a few from German manufacturers. Woodcraft was a dealer for Boice-Crane Bench Machines and also took on the Rockwell Delta product line.
•1958: When an English tool manufacturer visited Woodcraft in Boston, Eaton was impressed with the quality of that toolmaker’s products. Woodcraft’s first hand tool catalog was the result of that meeting, and Woodcraft became the first retailer of the Marples hand tool line, produced by Wm. Marples & Son.
This 1961 Catalog describes Woodcraft as United States Agents for Marples Sheffield Steel Tools. Woodcraft was still in Boston when this catalog was distributed.
Woodcraft was located in Woburn, Massachusetts, when this catalog was published in 1968.
•1962: Roger Wells bought Woodcraft and moved the company’s first store to Woburn, Massachusetts.
Photo: This 1969 photo shows the small building at 313 Montvale Avenue in Woburn that housed Woodcraft’s entire mail order and retail business. Continued growth eventually forced Woodcraft to build a full warehouse/office facility. In November 2014, Woodcraft of Woburn moved to 185 New Boston Street.
•1976-78: Woodcraft commissioned the famous artist
Armand LaMontagne to do a life-sized sculpture of the Native American Indian
used in its corporate logo and registered tagline, “The First American
Woodworker.” It was first exhibited in 1978 for Woodcraft’s 50th anniversary
and was featured on the cover of the 1978 Spring-Summer Woodcraft Catalog
Supplement (see beginning image).
Photo: Sculptor Armand LaMontagne carved the entire body of the Woodcraft Indian, including the stump on which he crouches, from one piece of pine, originally 48" in diameter and 5' tall, weighing 700 pounds.
•1987-88: Sam Ross of Parkersburg, West Virginia, founder of SBR, Inc., who was an avid woodworker and loyal Woodcraft customer, bought Woodcraft and began expanding operations by opening new stores.
•1989: The warehouse merchandise distribution and customer service operations were relocated to Parkersburg.
•1992: Corporate offices were moved to Parkersburg.
•1996: Woodcraft.com was launched, making Woodcraft one of the first woodworking companies to operate on the Internet. Today, Woodcraft also promotes its products on social media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube and has a corporate blog, Woodworking Adventures.
has had several upgrades since Woodcraft launched the website in 1996. The most
recent makeover was unveiled in February 2017.
•1997: The first franchise store opened in Colorado
•1997: About the time the franchise operation began, Woodcraft bought The Woodworkers Club® that currently operates at several sites.
•1997: Woodcraft opened a corporate retail store and training center in the former Gersman’s Ethan Allan Gallery furniture store on Emerson Avenue in Parkersburg, West Virginia.
Photo: In 2006, the Woodcraft of Parkersburg building was renovated to provide space for the Call Center and Woodcraft Magazine. A woodshop and photography studio were added later.
2003: As part of the 75th Anniversary celebration, Woodcraft offered a different Limited Edition Anniversary Tool each month and included a company history section in a special anniversary catalog that featured six different covers, each representing a time in Woodcraft’s history. Four are pictured in this blog: the 50th anniversary, Boice-Crane, Sheffield Steel and the 75th anniversary mosaic. A 1960 Marples cover and a second 75th anniversary cover complete the six.
This unique 75th anniversary July 2003 Woodcraft Catalog cover image is a mosaic of hundreds of different woodworking tool photos from previous catalogs.
A 90th anniversary logo will appear on the cover of catalogs, fliers, advertisements and other company communications during 2018.
•2017: Woodcraft employees earned two prestigious national awards: the Avercast Crystal Ball Award for effective use of technology to forecast product demand and the WebLinc Workarea King of Content Award for content offered on Woodcraft.com.
Photo: In “Building On Success,” Gary Lombard, Vice President - Retail/Franchise Development, shares what makes the Woodcraft retail operation successful and what differentiates it from other franchise operations. “Woodcraft offers franchisees a complete system that helps them with every detail, from site selection and development to hiring quality staff and marketing support,” Lombard said. “And once a new franchise store is operational, we provide ongoing support through regional field consultants and the retail support staff.”
I encourage you to visit your local Woodcraft store to check out the products and talk to the staff about your woodworking and DIY project needs. And remember you can find lots of free instruction in blogs, how-to articles and videos posted on Woodcraft.com and WoodcraftMagazine.com.
“Helping You Make Wood Work” is our mission!
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