Reader Survey Report 2012

This year’s Readers’ Survey was a huge success, but there is an elephant in the room, so let’s get rid of that first. We asked three questions about the Wood Manufacturing Council’s (WMC) support of our competitor, and we got a decisive response. We reported the results to the WMC and offered a week to respond. As before, no communication was forthcoming. Wood Industry is dedicated to training, Survey web imageeducation and standards. Months ago, following reports from concerned indstry leaders, we requested information from WMC and were ignored. We submitted an Access to Information Act request, and it was ignored. We contacted the office of HRSDC Minister Diane Finley through our own MP, and were told the WMC operates autonomously and is not subject to HRSDC intervention. We have written to individual board members, also with no response … All this does nothing to reduce our concern that questions remain and we have to do our job, even as it becomes increasingly difficult.

By this note, we are publicly asking WMC to meet with Wood Industry and answer some questions to dispel the concern in evidence in our Survey and elsewhere. As is obvious, this is not going away, and the clear light of facts and explanation will dispel the concern of the industry.

Methods: We sent the survey by e-mail to 2,000 confirmed recipients, of which 187, or 9.35 percent, replied. There were no give-aways, contests or other incentives to answer, other than to supply information for editorial research. Of the 187 respondents, over 90 percent said Wood Industry should report on the actions of the WMC as they relate to funneling taxpayer dollars to a favoured magazine, over 95 percent said taxpayer-funded sector councils should not engage in this activity and over 85 percent said the WMC should have more actual manufacturers and fewer government officials, suppliers and union reps on its board.

There were three direct comments. First was, “The questions regarding the WMC are misleading, not factual, and quite frankly an insult to your readers…” I don’t need to break that down for you. Whoever answered is claiming inside knowledge of the direction of the WMC and the facts about the WMC. That suggests the author is associated with the WMC. Also, for the record, a question cannot be factual or not factual. It’s a question.

The claim that this line of questioning is a frank insult to the readers is more problematic. First, it assumes the writer knows the readers (you). Yet the survey results clearly state the opposite. We did not need to ask the question to know the answer. We needed to ask the question to have the proof of the answer.

By now, everybody knows there is an attempt by a small group of collaborators to take over the industry. This will require killing Wood Industry  magazine, despite the fact that Wood Industry  is one of only a handful of trade magazines in North America or Europe that does not  insult  its readers. Taking over the industry will also result in an anti-competitive environment for any suppliers not on the “inside,” and the exclusion of any manufacturers or suppliers that do not comply with such ideas as blocking competition and preventing new blood from entering the market without paying homage to the collaborators. The difficulties of U.S.-based Vance Publishing’s attempts to continue our WMS and SIBO trade shows come to mind.

The FACT is, our industry is not large enough to sustain a war against its constituents (as we have seen in the Quebec construction industry). We are struggling against the effects of international economies, internationally subsidized competitors and reduced revenues from our formerly insatiable customer to the south. We are a small and aging industry in a relatively small and remote cor ner of the globe, and we need all the help we can get.

Wood Industry , as is evident in the survey results, can speak with a unified voice for the industry, and has dozens of plans, events, new departments and other business-enhancing projects in hand, waiting for a pause in the war so we can get down to business. To the extent others are diverting national tax dollars, tight advertising revenues, international public relations and other resources away from progress and wood manufacturing, THEY are the insult to the readers. The “readers” are people that make stuff out of wood in Canada. They are NOT a group of eight, self-serving, self-declared experts that have never made a cabinet or a railing in their lives, yet declare themselves the 19th  hole-philosophers for “the industry.”

A second commenter said it best: “I like the editorial which informs me about some of the stuff going on in our sector, especially the bull shit with the WMC. …”

Or, of greater concern: “You’ve really hit the nail on the head with WMC… But you’re simply scraping the surface … There’s very little reporting within that organization, no membership power for all us ‘’suppliers and clients” that are managing large amounts of money (tax money!).” Individuals having information about the WMC are invited to call.

In an effort to clear this up once and for all, we are publishing all the comments of all the respondents with this report. We dressed up a bit of spelling and grammar, but did not change meaning or intent.

Nothing is left out. Individually, our readers all speak for themselves. However, there is only one magazine in Canada that speaks for the industry, and you are reading it (as is everybody else and his lawyer).

Onward. Nearly one fourth  (22.38 percent) of you have been fired from a job. Behind the question is the idea that some people can be very good at what they do, but simply can’t work for somebody else — a recurring theme in our business-profile features.

Over 55 percent of respondents are business owners. This is consistent with past surveys showing Wood Industry  is the choice of business owners for business information. As a little inside baseball, it is virtually unheard- of for business owners in these percentages to answer surveys. They have obviously stopped what they are doing, and think the survey is important. It is, as we have said, because it defines our outlook for the next year and beyond.

Interestingly, the industry is about evenly split between people that do primarily residential work versus those that do primarily commercial, at 36 percent and 39 percent, respectively.

Over half of you, 56.34 percent, to be exact, provide in-house design services. This is significant for a few reasons. For one, your European competitors in the cabinetry market, including Scavolini and Bulthaup, are advertising in Canadian design magazines, and you are not. This gives the clear impression that the Europeans have “real” design and are coming into the market — a situation Wood Industry would like to help in correcting. Secondly, some of the veneer and hardware suppliers have followed the Pied Piper into the design magazines, only to find those people couldn’t design a kitchen to save themselves. The “design” in kitchen design is handled most expertly by Canadian manufacturers.

A telling fact is that 84 percent of you are sick of people getting your e-address and shoving “messages” at you several times a day. Wood Industry repeats its promise that we won’t use your e-address to send commercial messages, but only our monthly e-letter and any important editorial notices, such as upcoming Wood Industry events in your area, etc. … You know the drill.

Speaking of the e-letter, over 71 percent like the monthly frequency, and another 10 percent would like it more often. Slightly over 3 percent – about the same number as those that think we insult readers – think monthly is too often.

While the rest of the world mouths such platitudes as “content is king,” we provide it, and you approve. Over 86 percent of you think Wood Industry’s original content is more important than magazines that cut-and-paste news and features from the internet and other sources (plagiarism). Results show an average of four people per shop reading each copy.

Fourteen percent and 17 percent of you intend to invest over $100,000 in facilities and process improvements, respectively, over the next six months. This may, at first, seem a small number, but it’s huge and indicates widespread growth. We wish we could also have asked about improvements above and below $100,000, as well as timeframes beyond six months, but there are limits. We we are moving on.

With all the sincerity we can express in print, we thank those of you that filled out this year’s survey. Without you visibly behind us, we can’t do a thing. In publishing, the only thing that matters is the market, but saying you can get a market response and proving it are two different things. We are now in a position to return the favour.

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