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Start over with your dream shop/business

10/20/20       
Charlie W Member

I have the opportunity to start another new shop from scratch with a group of investors. We will focus on commercial casework and millwork. My realistic goal for total sales in year 1 (2021) will be 1.2m I want to be able to scale quickly if needed up to 2-3m a year without moving the shop. If you could build this shop what machines and methods would you select? Also what shop size would you want?

I appreciate your thoughts.

10/20/20       #2: Start over with your dream shop/bus ...
Mark B Member

My first investment if I were starting over with a munch of money to invest would be a beach chair, a cottage on some.cardibean island, a small boat, and a firm investment in sunscreen. ;-) at that point i may invest in some cabinet import company.

10/20/20       #3: Start over with your dream shop/bus ...
cabinetmaker

Self label, self load, push off cnc router 12 pos tool changer, boring block.

Auto Doweler

Edgebander with 3mm corner round, return conveyor

Auto case lamp.

3 seats of microvellum or CabinetVision. File server

Forklift. 2 semi trailers for assembled casework storage

10/20/20       #4: Start over with your dream shop/bus ...
Karl E Brogger  Member

Website: http://www.sogncabinets.com

Mark, is correct.

10/20/20       #5: Start over with your dream shop/bus ...
rich c.

The best way to make a million dollars in your first year, is to start with 3 million. That's the same for farming, and that joke has circulated in my home town for at least 100 years! If I could describe how to make millions, I would have never retired. Good luck!

10/21/20       #7: Start over with your dream shop/bus ...
Jim Member

Don't put any of your own money in it.
You will be the one all those investors will blame when the figures you've projected don't materialize.
Save your money for your forced retirement.

10/21/20       #8: Start over with your dream shop/bus ...
TonyF

Charlie W:

As with others, I would question the investment savvy, and perhaps even the psychiatric viability, of a group of individuals that would collectively come to the conclusion that it is a good idea to invest in the architectural millwork industry in 2020.

Startups are hard, and investors can be less than supportive when a quick financial return does not materialize. Hopefully your investors are the patient type.

You might wait until you actually make your first million before you concern yourself with scaling up. Always nice to have a game plan, though.

Without knowing all of the details, it is interesting that these investors apparently won't invest in your current operation, yet want to include you in a future enterprise. Why not scale up what you already have?

What is your current business model, and why have you decided to abandon it? Or is the new venture in conjunction with your existing venture?

To piggyback on Rich C.'s joke, two woodworking enterprises can lose money twice as fast as one. Put your beach chair next to Mark B.'s, pop a Corona, and enjoy the sunset.

TonyF

10/21/20       #9: Start over with your dream shop/bus ...
Anon

The biggest question I have is how do you think you're going to supply those sales and the leads for those sales? What will your competitive advantage be? Manufacturing is the easy part. Nothing happens until you sell something.

10/21/20       #10: Start over with your dream shop/bus ...
Charlie W Member

cabinetmaker,

Thanks for your response. I have a similar list of tools that I was thinking of. I have not worked with a case clamp and dowler for years but it seams like the best way to go for the commercial case work industry. I currently use CV but though that maybe a different program would be better for the commercial side.

"cabinetmaker
Self label, self load, push off cnc router 12 pos tool changer, boring block.

Auto Doweler

Edgebander with 3mm corner round, return conveyor

Auto case lamp.

3 seats of microvellum or CabinetVision. File server

Forklift. 2 semi trailers for assembled casework storage"

10/21/20       #11: Start over with your dream shop/bus ...
Charlie W Member

Mark B and Karl E Brogger,

Mark, I love the dry humor. I'm not against working with importers (I currently do) but I have found over the years that there is a profit to be made in millwork -not easy but definably possible-
Karl, the link you shared looks like a custom residential shop. I already have one of those (the family business) The new shop will be commercial casework and some selected millwork. I'm sure it can all be imported but that will not work for my customers because of long lead times and lack of flexibility. I have and will continue to consider using importers for specific offerings but I have not been able to make it work on the commercial side as of yet.

I will continue to sell import modular cabinets to local contractors all day long with my other business..

10/21/20       #12: Start over with your dream shop/bus ...
Charlie W Member

"Jim Member

Don't put any of your own money in it.
You will be the one all those investors will blame when the figures you've projected don't materialize.
Save your money for your forced retirement."

Jim a little positivity goes a long way... But the advise is sound. I'm not putting my money in. I have a unique situation that give me and the capital investors reason to believe this will work. Failure is always an option if you allow it to be. even when its not an option it can be a reality this is not lost on me. But with no risk comes little reward.

10/21/20       #13: Start over with your dream shop/bus ...
Charlie W Member

TonyF,

You have some great observations and ask good questions. I'm keeping my current high end custom millwork company separate for business reasons. The investors and myself have a very unique situation, we have the first 1.7m in the pipeline and nearly half of that in contract before we open the shop doors. The short version is we have a great customer base and a team in place to make this happen. Start ups are very hard but it is amazing what a team of dedicated people can do. I have spent my career starting a running business. And though a beach chair is in the long term plans I'm not there yet.

"TonyF

Charlie W:

As with others, I would question the investment savvy, and perhaps even the psychiatric viability, of a group of individuals that would collectively come to the conclusion that it is a good idea to invest in the architectural millwork industry in 2020.

Startups are hard, and investors can be less than supportive when a quick financial return does not materialize. Hopefully your investors are the patient type.

You might wait until you actually make your first million before you concern yourself with scaling up. Always nice to have a game plan, though.

Without knowing all of the details, it is interesting that these investors apparently won't invest in your current operation, yet want to include you in a future enterprise. Why not scale up what you already have?

What is your current business model, and why have you decided to abandon it? Or is the new venture in conjunction with your existing venture?

To piggyback on Rich C.'s joke, two woodworking enterprises can lose money twice as fast as one. Put your beach chair next to Mark B.'s, pop a Corona, and enjoy the sunset."

10/21/20       #14: Start over with your dream shop/bus ...
Mark B Member

dry humor aside, and yes, Im a small pittance of a shop, CNC,... what your talking about, I would be lean cell. A single human observer from unit quantity, to assembly. Set a unit, and no human touches it until it hits the case clamp and hardware. Automated unit racking and storage, automatic unit retrieval.

Local shop processes a tractor and trailer load of melamine a week. They are shipping material on their own tractor and trailers 4 states away. So depending on your location and demographic you will likely be bidding on work that is nationally competitive.

Only you and your investors know your day in and day out projected volume. A big money job or contract or two on the books doesnt equate to day in and day out throughput. We have monster jobs come through the shop that would be phenomenal if they happened consistently. But you cant ramp up demand on the fly. If you have a rock solid steady demand,... its a no brainer and their is no point in asking. You should be investing in the uber high end, robotics, automated handling of all parts, at every station, hands down. Its money in the bank.

The shop I mention was shipping a single job that was 2 million dollars worth of cabinetry. One job.

10/24/20       #15: Start over with your dream shop/bus ...
Quicktrim

I love all of you on here because the brotherhood of sawdust makers are the ones who have worked hard long hours at a craft that is very tough to get above average at and takes a lot of perseverance.

My advice , just do it all on your own.

I believed in it so much I sold my house and watched every auction that was out there for a year until I got everything that I needed.

Then I learned how to wire three phase, run dust pipe, fix machines and run software and machines.

Before my shop , eight months ago, I could make 400 to 800 a day installing cabinets.

Now I don't do less than 1000.00 a day ever, usually about 1500.00

Paid off all my investment and now making very good money.

I was an installer of residential cabinets , commercial cabinets , and panel systems, spiral staircase etc... for 20 plus years.
I learned the best way to build things so they install easy and fast. That is critical because commercial work is often turnkey and a lot of money can be made and lost in the install.

Get really f ing good at all aspects of this business. Then when you believe go do it .

I will hit over 400 k profit myself my second year in , it is very possible but not easy.

5x10 cnc, no auto load or unload as of yet
Auto dowel
Mozaik
Three case clamps
Massive bander
Forklift
Shipping containers for storage
Box truck
Trailers
Big planer
Martin slider
Double head wide belt
Hot glue system
Tub drill
Shaper
Power feeders
Unisaw
Drill press
Dust collection
Air dryer
Two compressor s
Dovetail drawer clamp

Mainly plam casework and tops , solid surface, reception desks, box mantles, floating shelves.

It's simple .
Do it till you are really f ing good for others , then go do it for yourself , investors = fast ramp up and lots of stress.

10/27/20       #16: Start over with your dream shop/bus ...
Karl E Brogger  Member

Website: http://www.sogncabinets.com

Okay, how in the F are you getting $400k profit, by yourself? I would need about $1.2m and zero debt to make that happen.
If you work 3500 hours a year, that's about $342/hr

10/27/20       #17: Start over with your dream shop/bus ...
Jim Member

Respectfully. I call Fake News.

10/27/20       #18: Start over with your dream shop/bus ...
Stuart Douglas Member

Lets not forget the important part. You need humans! Robots are nice, but you need motivated, talented humans to make sure things proceed smoothly. A single bad apple can spoil the barrel and even a little bit of toxic personality will sap the ambition out of a resilient, valued employee. Where is this new shop located? Location will make a big difference, not only in payroll, but in the talent available to fill your rolls. Your equipment lists are looking good, I would add that you will need some sort of small finishing space and equipment; even the PL commercial jobs we get often have some solid wood/veneer work. Stain and topcoat, or paint. Don't overlook the cost of meeting the new OSHA safety standards. They are changing fast and have changed A LOT over the last 10 years.

10/28/20       #19: Start over with your dream shop/bus ...
pat s gilbert

His name isn't Quicktrim for nothing

10/28/20       #20: Start over with your dream shop/bus ...
Scott

I would agree with some of the equipment lists mentioned, but the number one item you need is a beam saw. You donít cut casework parts with a cnc.
You need a Good(for everything) beam saw, edge bander, cnc for machining for all your hardware ( hinges, drawer slides, shelf pins , pull outs, etc, along with dato for backs depending on cabinet design) Doweling machine, case clamp. You can crank out casework at an unbelievable rate, to up the process you go with more automation and return conveyors, etc. If you need more production you go to multiple shifts and if more needed you start doubling equipment.
You will still need a process for doors and drawer boxes which in house is a $$$ more equipment.
Good luck.

10/28/20       #21: Start over with your dream shop/bus ...
Quicktrim

I am happy to post my numbers for everyone along with my contracts.

Remember I sold my house , bought 500k in machines used for 150k and have zero debt , and a 900.00 a month shop lease .

Live in a major market and am very good at what I do.

Example :
This month - solid surface tops
I get material and build up for 15.00 a sq ft.
That covers all material glue build up is IPB 3" strips
I sell for 39.00 a sq foot installed.
That is a margin of 24.00 per sq foot.

I have 10" sanders and miter fold all drop edges, no inside corners , high end apt complex

24.00 x 5000 = 120,000.00 profit

Took me and my 23.00 per hour helper 28 working days to fab and install 46 units less than two units a day built and installed.

I'm just putting this out there because I believe in the human potential to do more than we think and believe that now is a unique te in history where the cost and availability of technology and machining had come to a point where the small shop can automate and kill it .

My 2 cents

PS look at Spencer Lewis on instagram
#insidercarpentry this dude clears over 200k per year as a solo trim guy who works out of a garage ....

Just sayin

10/28/20       #22: Start over with your dream shop/bus ...
Calceus Member

Agree #10

10/29/20       #23: Start over with your dream shop/bus ...
Paul Downs

If I am understanding you correctly, you are referring to gross profit on the in-shop portion of the project, not net profit. It looks like you are omitting the labor costs during install for you and your helper. Not to mention any charges for premises rent, depreciation of machines, insurance, taxes, utilities, the vehicles and insurance for same to get you to the site, etc.

I would recommend you hire an accountant and get some education about GAAP (generally accepted accounting practices) and figure out what your real profit might be. Not saying there isn't some - you might be doing great. But if you are planning on investing in an operation of the size you envision you are going to need to know what you are doing.

10/29/20       #24: Start over with your dream shop/bus ...
pat s gilbert

Spencer Lewis is incredible, looked at the link you posted.

10/30/20       #25: Start over with your dream shop/bus ...
Quicktrim

Paul you are correct.
I have not figured in my salary and my helpers wages into that .

We also supply all sinks and make a markup on those but I did not include that either.

10/31/20       #26: Start over with your dream shop/bus ...
Hen Bob Member

Quicktrim,

I gotta say i'm a little jealous of the $900 a month lease, that barley covers my electric bill :(

Happy Halloween everybody!

11/25/20       #28: Start over with your dream shop/bus ...
Mark B Member

Im uber late to this but the fab numbers on the solid surface seem real but the install cuts the margin by a mile and as has been already posted the delusion of what "profit" is... which doesnt seem to equate to true profit or account for "my salary or helpers wages" seems pretty bizarre.

Oddly this same confluence was brought to my attention by Pat a while back.. The spencer lewis, quicktrim, etc..

I gave a glance at the spencer lewis thing and some impressive stuff. I hate to sound like a jerk but Ive never worked from my home or "a garage". Times change and I know thats the norm and a trim carpenter or even a contractor can run from home but that doesnt in any way mean that roof, electric bill, heat bill, maintenance, is free.

This maker movement seems to be completely at peace with a self imposed lie that working from home equals more money in your pocket when it really just means you spend more convenient hours working because its closer to your bed and you spend more time lying to yourself about your true salary or gross profit.

Being busy and swamped with work doesnt mean our profitable. You sold your house in trade for equipment. Where do you live? Who pays your health care? Liability insurance? $23/hr man and workers comp? Unemployment? Thats $40-50K off the top of the 400 right there and thats just a single missed line item.

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