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CMA survey shows optimism about 2014 revenue growth

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The Cabinet Makers Association released the results of its latest industry benchmark survey, a 131-page report filled with pie charts and bar graphs. It’s a beaut, Clark, for those of you appreciate a funny line from the “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” movie.

With a record number of more than 800 woodworking industry respondents this year, the report contains detailed information from a broad cross-section of shop owners and managers from across the U.S. and Canada, according to the CMA.

For example, the highest response rates were from shops with four to seven employees, working in a shop no bigger than 3,000 sq. ft., and started by the current owner.

The top residential projects include kitchen and bath cabinets, libraries and home offices, built-ins and closets. Countertop fabrication was also quite high on the list. On the commercial side, reception desks, office furniture and cabinets were among the top sellers.

More than half of all respondents have CNC equipment, while nearly half have had it for at least 10 years. In that group, a majority of shops have either updated their equipment at least once or have been satisfied with their original purchase.

In the salary section, most respondents said a cabinetmaker with less than 10 years of experience makes $13 to $17 per hour. This also applies to designers, estimators, finishers and installers with less than five years of experience. More than 10 years of experience puts most employees into the $18-to-$25-per-hour range. Shop owners aren’t exactly getting rich, with a majority saying they make less than $60,000 a year.

Most shops made less than $250,000 in 2013, but fared better than they did in 2012. There’s a lot of optimism about revenue growth in 2014.

On the subject of health care, most shops aren’t providing insurance benefits to employees and won’t offer a plan this year.

Referrals, social media and websites bring in most of the work. Most shops don’t have a marketing budget or a dedicate salesperson on staff.

I’m skipping the last 100 pages or so of the survey, which breaks down responses by region, etc. The full report is available from the CMA. Visit for ordering information.

The IWF is around the corner — Aug. 20-23, to be exact — and we’ve partnered with the show’s producer to create a weekly e-newsletter. WoodTech News will feature breaking news and new-product information from exhibitors.

Inside this issue, veteran cabinetmaker John English shares some tips for making consistently accurate cuts. One of the keys is establishing best practices that every employee must follow. Other suggestions include jigs and aftermarket accessories. If you’d like to share some of your suggestions, drop us a line at

Bob Flexner tackles exterior coatings in the finishing column. R.W. Lee returns to explain how commands are given to CNC equipment in The Cutting Edge. In Pro Shop, David Getts works on your self-esteem.

We promote the benefits of outsourcing on Page 34 and suggest ways to provide more custom features to kitchens on Page 39. Finally, the cover story on Frank Shatz & Co. begins on Page 30. I’m guessing there aren’t many shops that feature a woodworker with more than 50 years of experience. 

This article originally appeared in the May 2014 issue.

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