Reader survey 2013

Canada’s industry weighs in, Wood Industry listens

I have to confess, I really enjoy the surveys. We say we are doing it for editorial perspective and to help you understand the industry, and we are. However, I get a real kick out of the kaleidoscope effect of picking apart numbers and seeing what the pattern is.Nov-Dec 13 Wood Industry cover_Page_25

First, methodology. Our random sample this year was 725 e-surveys that were delivered and opened, and 149 responses, for a response rate of 20.6 percent. As with everything else this industry does, this is amazing. Nothing helps so much with bureaucrats and politicians as to see activity and energy in a sector. You are saying you are serious.

We all know there is a controversy raging out there, and we are going to pass that by, here. You can read about it in the editorial. However, it is necessary to point out that some of the folks that are putting pressure against Wood Industry also signed in as readers to put a bias in the survey. Our first reaction was to delete them. However, if we deleted them we would be injecting what would be called a subjective bias by making a personal decision whether this or that respondent was eligible. Therefore, we left them.

This presented a very interesting picture, once you drill down. For example, the questions about the controversy typically yielded a response rate of 80 to 95 percent in favour of Wood Industry’s positions, with 5 to 20 percent against. Fair enough.

Now, one fact you will want to know is that response rates to a candidate or a political position are almost never over 70 percent. Since your responses are consistently over 80 percent, it is a real statistical oddity and indicates substantial unanimity among all our readers. That does not mean you all think alike. It does mean that matters that affect the industry are all viewed about the same by the manufacturers/readers. That is, we are all concerned about government, labour, imports, costs of compliance, economy and so on in approximately the same intensity across all provinces and sub-categories of the wood industry.

We always ask questions different ways to validate the responses. For example, when we ask whether you like “push” e-marketing each day to your inbox, 89 percent said no. That is substantial unanimity, especially with the installed bias mentioned above. We believe only an idiot would ignore the overwhelming demand of the customers, so you can bet Wood Industry will NOT be sending spam. When a market speaks, a marketer listens.

OK; 89 percent no. Then, we asked how many minutes you spend each week on industry media websites each week. Over 68 percent of you said less than 15 minutes. The one validates the other. You recognize and use digital media, but spend very little time compared to other industries.

It became interesting when we noticed that the ratio of one side to another stayed the same, whether we were asking about the controversy or about anything else. For example, 92 percent of you saw the business outlook as very positive (14.5 percent), positive (47.86 percent) or neutral (32.48 percent), while 5.12 percent saw the business outlook as negative or very negative. Of those that think all companies and organizations in Canada should abide by established standards, only 4.13 percent said no. Slightly over 7.5 percent say they do not like the controversial (sometimes) editorial on page 5 of each issue. Again, 7.69 percent think the monthly e-letter is too often, while 80.34 percent think it is just right, 5.98 percent would like it more often and .85 percent would like it weekly.

As you can see, a pattern starts to emerge. One commenter said we have biased the questions. Let’s be clear. A question is inherently biased. You cannot find out an answer if you don’t ask the question. We are all adults. When I ask whether you like Wood Industry (this magazine) or Woodworking (the competitor), I am not biasing anything. I am, however, anxious that you not make a mistake.Nov-Dec 13 Wood Industry cover_Page_26

So our bias is toward the truth underlying the facts, and it appears the people that identify themselves both as “suppliers” and as negative (for lack of a better word) toward Wood Industry are consistently at odds with the overwhelming majority of their customers, as reported in the survey. As a former sociologist-in-training, that is a stunning finding to me.

As a publisher with 15 years in the wood industry in Canada, I have suspected this is true for a long time. Suppliers tend to be larger companies; our readers tend to be small (64 percent in shops under 25 employees and 77 percent in shops under 50). Supplier contacts tend to come up through sales; shop owners tend to come up through production. Et cetera.

This is neither bad nor good, but it is certainly interesting in the context of our continued interaction as a combined industry.

One comment that smarted was the accusation that we only present one side of an issue and don’t allow argument. That is simply not true. I have never, anywhere or at any time, refused to publish a letter to the editor that was contrary to anything anywhere in the magazine. The very nature of the editorials and web site is to inspire discussion. We WANT other points of view. Given what we have shown about the substantial unanimity of the survey results, the explanation could be there is little disagreement from the manufacturing side and little desire to be a public spectacle from sales. But whatever the case, we do not stifle opposition.

We have little space to publish what we would like. That is a function of ad sales. Therefore, our plan was to make this section short, including only the highlights. However, given the challenge, we have published all the raw data at, along with all the comments, good, bad, neutral and unintelligible.

Wood Industry remains the readers’ choice in Canada. With your help on this survey, we intend to stay there. In fact, we invite all competitors to review and copy our survey results and apply them to their own operations.


    • Magazines are a good point of reference to get the starting point or explore in more details your own company or personal needs.

    • Special interest lobbyists are well funded by major corporations and are no match for small business owners. Magazines are doing a decent job of providing focus for small business.

    • If magazines bend to the will of special interests, they lose their journalistic integrity. If magazines use their power to attack special interests, they lose their integrity. Report in a fair and balanced manner — everyone wins.

    • It feels wrong for “specialists” writing columns in magazines to be the owners of machinery companies. A few issues ago Homag’s president did an article about laser edgebanding and suggested that Homag was the only company offering this technology … we all know this is very far from the truth. I would rather have read an independent editorial in which Homag’s Lasertec, Biesse’s Airforce, and IMAs laser system were compared directly to each other. If you truly have better product, wouldn’t this be better advertising anyway? And it wouldn’t make consumers such as myself feel blindsided when you go to WMS and see other laser systems or Biesse’a one-2-one and see Airforce. This is just one example of many. Everyone is in business to make money — and there is nothing wrong with having people advertise in a magazine — but it is wrong to allow your content to be controlled by said advertisers. I don’t want to have to feel like I am on guard when I pick up a magazine — I read it because I want to get ideas, inspiration, and to better myself. I don’t like feeling like people are manipulating me through bias media — don’t we have policies on this? We can all let our eyes skip over ads if we want, but we all assume editorials and stories have passed publication standards before being printed. I read the monogram — though in truth I stopped “reading” Woodworking about six months ago — now I simply scan. Woodworking never makes it off my island, Wood Industry is always on my bedside table. I am young, and I rely on magazines to learn what I am lacking in experience. I don’t like the thought that large companies try to sway our purchasing with such evasive, misleading, and manipulative tactics. I went to Ligna this year and all these companies were there in force. Same with IWF Atlanta last year — I actually bought a new Biesse edgebander there because there was no SIBO. Are we not worth their investment? I own Homag and Biesse equipment, and I was very sad when they both ducked out of SIBO and WMS a few years ago. There is a responsibility you have as a market leader, and I feel that they have shied away from that responsibility when they were needed most. At least SCM seems to have learned something and were at WMS. In conclusion, this is my life — it is not a game to me. I don’t like the thought that I can be misled through trusted published media and back table dealings among manufacturers. Trade shows are crucial. I honestly feel that not being at a show is doing these guys more harm than good — and are we to believe that big fancy showrooms that need to be constantly staffed are actually costing us as consumers less than attending a trade show every year?

    • Governments spend far too much time and money listening to special interest groups. We need a method of fair and balanced assessment of the issues.

    • I enjoy your magazine, especially the editorial. I don’t really know much about the current state of magazines in Canada. I will say, however, that the current state of the mainstream media is blatantly biased toward the left with the exception of Sun News Network. I find it very disappointing that the mainstream can’t just do their job reporting the news instead of adhering to a left wing agenda.

    • Profits will flow to those with the power. The companies in question believe they can capture more power, and therefore, more profit. It is up to anyone who doesn’t want this to happen to resist.

    • In general, magazines and media seem to be in the business of selling, rather than informing. For all of the resources used to produce most magazines, there is very little valuable information out there of an educational value.

    • Cannot deny the influence that special interest groups have for any part of the manufacturing and design communities in Canada. I do believe that a balance needs to be struck, and critical thinking employed to diminish the effect of overly zealous (some might say self-interested) promotion of a single point of view. Forums exist to discuss and debunk self interest, or promote needed improvements. Consensus should rule the day.

    • Articles on state of the industry and on trends are useful. New product ads would be more useful if they were third party and more critical. Company review articles are generally closer to promotions than to reporting. I tend to dismiss them as entirely self-serving.

    • I read it cover to cover. I feel more informed in a way that isn’t provided by hobby magazines such as Fine Woodworking.

    • Special interest magazines run the risk of being the most relevant (if you are closely tied to the subject) and being the least relevant (if you cannot relate, the magazine will go to the wayside).

    • Online magazines are obviously more and more popular and the ease and rapidity of reporting makes this format more relevant.

    • I don’t see the article — checked the last couple emails … maybe you should have included a link to it if you wanted people to answer questions about it!

    • It is difficult to judge having only heard one subjective side. WI is for me the Frankfurter Allgemeine, while the other is the Bild Zeitung.

    • It’s human nature to work toward having an advantage, but the advantages taken by organized groups often come at the expense of the individual. Nature seeks equilibrium, which helps explain the monogragh. I am disappointed I did not read the monogragh before the show — we had tickets, but ended up with a handful of crises and chose to work instead of going. Had I read this before the show I would have ensured the entire shop went. Our industry has a tough enough time as it is: changing demographics, increasing costs, increasing regulations and safety requirements, decreasing availability of skilled workers …. I could go on, but the point is it really angers me to think that my suppliers (read the partners who help me solve problems) would bind together to try to manipulate the situation in their favour. I knew something was up a couple years ago when we were invited to concurrent in-house show. Too many of our competitors have disappeared of late — which is an unfortunate comment on the state of our industry in this market. I hate to think we are embattled on more fronts than usual. Bah!

    • The monopolizing and trying to dominate a market strategy is nothing new, and I am always disgusted when getting aware of it. So thanks to the media efforts in general and thanks to Wood Industry in this case for enlightening us. Since time for any owner/operator of a small business is scarce, I have to just give up and/or let others do the fighting for me. You have my vote and I am happy to respond to this survey to show my support.

    • Thank you for standing up for the industry.
      Stefan Ambrosius
      P.S.: Why don’t we hear anything about the new workman’s comp rule of business owners suddenly having to pay ~10% of their income to them?”

    • I am not familiar with the magazine business. However, I sometimes wonder whether there’s enough room for both US and Canadian magazines in some fields, and wonder whether we should combine our efforts in an attempt to strengthen against other competitive parts of the world.

    • There was an article written by Mr. Knudsen about 6 months ago that explained the break off of ties to the Vance publishing magazines. That article explained in great detail the way that advertisers can control the content of a magazine versus the free thinking and informative way that you promote your topics of discussion, untainted and unbiased.

    • It is good to have a general knowledge as well as a basic understanding of where our natural-resource industries, such as the wood industry and related industries are heading. We should do more to protect these resources and to help increase the health of these industries for our future generations.

    • Stick to your knitting. In other words, articles on how we can run our businesses better. You are drifting into subjective areas and turning into a conspiracy theorist.

  1. What is Wood Industry lacking editorially that we can provide, or what would you like to see changed or removed? (We really want to know what you think …)

    • Business trending and performance statistics. Many industries rely on magazines to be the sole unbiased source of business benchmarks, financial benchmarks, demand statistics, etc. The subscriber base in this industry ( which in my opinion is poorly measured by Stats Can) needs more comprehensive data.

    • My end of the business is seldom represented. We are a small specialty sawmill and kiln. We produce timbers, siding, decking, trim packages and door and window stock.

    • I think your questions are worded in a way that biases the reader towards a certain response. It’s obvious that you’re trying to make a point, just do it another way instead of putting words into your reader’s mouth.

    • I would like to see more information regarding the state of the economy and where growth segments are. I would also like to see more stories from companies that are doing commercial work.

    • The best thing about this magazine is that its focus is broader than others. I would like to see more information about what is happening outside North America. What are the big trends? Have people come up with better ways to do things in Italy? Germany was a big eye-opener for me. I would like to know more.

    • Independent, comparable product reviews. For example, I am in the market for an automated loading/unloading nesting cell. I already have two CNCs, but want to further automation. I would love to be able to read a report comparing pros and cons between the big players. Same things for automated finishing lines, thermal pressing machines, etc.

    • I don’t believe you even understand the issue of the lack of machinery exhibits at the shows. They don’t need them with the advent of this thing called the internet ( u-tube ). I can see any machine running my parts in real time. There is a recession currently, and like all businesses, machinery manufacturers are struggling and must make decisions that are in the best interest of their shareholders. The cost of doing exhibitions is crazy expensive and doing the same thing expecting different results is the definition insanity.

    • I understand and support the noble battle you are fighting, but don’t let it take over. At the end of the day, we want news and information on woodworking, and being the best source of it is the best way for you to win your battle. Thanks and keep it up!

    • When I read the editorials, I am surprised sometimes with what Kerry gets away with — but at the end of the day, it’s a good read. I agree more often than not with his thinking. On a more business-related note, I would like to see machine comparisons, almost like Consumer Reports.

    • Referring to the first few questions, I do not object to the monograph, and in fact, found it interesting. In answer to question 1, there is no neutral option. I read it, and I found it interesting, and perhaps even fair reporting. I don’t know if it’s necessary, however. All in all, keep up the good work.

    • I really enjoy a “rednecked” perspective in the editorial stuff. There is far too little of this type of commentary in media yet so many business people have more in common with the say-like-it-is approach than the anemic opinions in publications generally. I rarely agree with your editorials, but I REALLY enjoy reading them!


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